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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Working as a stay-at-home mom is no picnic

    The idea of women staying at home with their kids is frequently romanticized. We may think that these stay-at-home moms get plenty of snuggle time with the kids, are part of a book club or perhaps can even fit in a yoga class while their 1-year-old is napping. We casually form these notions, assuming that these stay-at-home mothers have the luxury of time and leisure.

    Assumptions that these mothers have working partners and are choosing to stay at home are extremely problematic, however, because research shows that choice and financial support are often not realities in the everyday lives of stay-at-home moms.

    Being a stay-at-home mom is a perfectly respectable and commendable job, but it’s important to recognize that many of these mothers may actually prefer a lifestyle that gives them more freedom to pursue a career. However, increased child care costs, insubstantial partner support and a lack of jobs prevent women from achieving their personal goals.

    An article in Time magazine states that “moms are struggling longer to land a new position and earning less once they find one, even after controlling for education level and previous job and earnings histories” when compared to men and single women without children. This data conveys a blunt message about inequality toward women in the workforce in general, but more specifically toward mothers. The chances of unemployment for women are also hurt because employers can be reluctant to hire women with children due to the time women need to spend taking care of them.

    This issue extends beyond stay-at-home mothers feeling like their career dreams are out of reach. Many stay-at-home moms need help. An article in Slate.com states that “in addition to simply not being able to earn a living or to have the option to do so, when you’re out of the workforce for a long time, especially if you’re single, you lose out on social security credits.”

    Single mothers also tend to suffer the emotional and psychological toll of motherhood more deeply than married women.

    According to a study in PubMed conducted by researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, single mothers are more likely to suffer from episodes of depression than married mothers. They are also more likely “to report higher levels of chronic stress … and lower levels of perceived social support [and] social involvement,” and were more removed from friends and family.

    According to Slate, “only 370,000 married [stay-at-home moms] have a graduate degree and a household income of more than $75,000.” This is due to the massive amount of money that their mothers are forced to spend on child care. The cost of this care is rising while wages for women are not, which makes staying home arguably more fiscally responsible.

    Daycare for an infant is more expensive annually than in-state tuition and fees at public colleges in more than 30 states, according to a report by Child Care Aware America.

    Also, for single stay-at-home moms, reliable child care is not negotiable, leaving them with much less money to put toward their child’s education. For this reason, child care costs should be reduced so that more women could utilize these helpful services, thus creating more jobs while boosting the economy.

    The Slate article goes on to say that 34 percent of stay-at-home mothers are living in poverty, leaving the mothers in a state of distress and also potentially compromising the safety of their children. There need to be more jobs offered to mothers, because they are responsible for supporting not only themselves, but also the lives of their children. This financial strain can take a toll on the mother’s emotional well-being and ultimately have a negative effect on their offspring.
    Employers need to be more accommodating so devoted mothers are also able to do their jobs. Perhaps, for example, employers that require their workers to log more than five or six hours per day should be required to include an extra childcare stipend in the salaries of mothers.

    This research illustrates what society already knows: being a mother is hard work. But when you factor in the struggle to find employment, unbearable stress and stifled dreams that affect not only your own well-being, but also the well-being of your children, there is a bigger societal problem at hand. At a minimum, more jobs, maternal grants and less expensive child care options need to be made available to these stay-at-home moms, who are often without assistance in their efforts to raise their children.

    Shelby Thomas is a sophomore studying family studies and human development and Spanish. Follow her @shelbyalayne

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