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It Takes a Village

Women who work outside the home are supernatural shapeshifters. One minute they’re closing the deal on a $5-million property and the next minute they’re on the phone with their 5-year-old daughter who’s upset because the parakeet won’t talk to her.

I think we can agree women are in the workplace. I think we can agree most households need two incomes to afford the basics like food, shelter and Netflix. I think we can also agree that mothers take on the biggest load when it comes to child care. Well, our country’s Childcare system is failing women in a spectacular SpaceX explosion kind of way.

This disparity was highlighted during COVID, an infuriating pandemic where millions of women lost their jobs. As childcare centers closed, women were usually the ones to step away from their careers to become full-time school teachers, nurses, referees, short-order cooks, video game experts and day drinkers. 

Single mothers always draw the short straw when it comes to childcare choices. If you’ve never been a single mom who has to decide between using a vacation day or leaving her sick 11-year-old at home alone, consider yourself lucky. 

Care.com reported on childcare costs in the U.S., showing the average family spends 27% of their income on child care with the majority spending around $18,000 each year. Utah’s costs are a bit lower than the national average but we make up for that by having one bajillion children.

There are always people who say, “Women should be home raising their children. Problem solved.” Guess what? Problem not solved because most families need two incomes to get by, even adding in the cost of child care. When women choose to stay home, it takes a big bite out of the household income.

To combat this, parents work multiple jobs, alternate work schedules with a spouse or partner, rely on family members to babysit and hope their toddler becomes a child star to cover living expenses.

Employers, do you know how often moms worry about asking for time off to take kids to dentist appointments, doctor visits, parent-teacher conferences, lobotomies, etc.? It’s constant. There’ve been times when I was shamed by my boss because I needed to deal with a situation at home. That should never happen.

Women and families need childcare support and it’s about damn time to get creative.

Let’s start with free (or low-cost) onsite child care. Let’s throw in flexible and remote schedules that allow parents to be home after school. Let’s address the stupid 40-hour work week that’s not only a waste of time, but a drain on families. 

Kim Kardashian pays each of her nannies (she has at least four on call 24/7) nearly $100,000 per year. She got it right. That’s what women should be paid for watching children because it’s mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. But the average family can’t afford ONE nanny for even half that price. 

And, yes, sometimes it’s the father who stays home with the kids (and they struggle, too) but the majority of childcare responsibility is placed on mothers. 

Mothers are expected to work competently at a full-time job and turn into Mary Poppins/Mrs. Doubtfire/Amelia Bedelia the minute they get home. We’re tired of shapeshifting. It’s making us cranky. 

If employers want to hire shapeshifters, they’d better be prepared to offer flexibility, creativity and full value for that skill or we’ll take our talents and go home. And then nobody wins. 

This column was originally published in the City Journals.



This post first appeared on Life And Laughter, please read the originial post: here

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It Takes a Village

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