“I need to be able to care for my home and family, as well as return to pulling a paycheck to add financial support. I can’t do all of the care and cleaning and errands and work at the same time. We can’t risk care or education outside of the home without the protection of vaccines for us and all others.”
“(I need) money because I have been unemployed to care for my kids since May.”
“(I’m worried about) Being disabled and finding a new job where I won’t be under employed.”
Over 2,400 parents, mostly Mothers (96%) who work either full or part-time (85%) have shared their concerns in our pandemic study since March of 2020. Covid forced record numbers of Mothers from the workforce and many haven’t returned.
We’re taught to get a good job, work hard and then trust that the career growth will follow. But it doesn’t really work like that for most people. Workplace bias against Mothers isn’t new. And the wage and leadership gaps for women are deeply entrenched. Yet we’re not encouraged to think about the long-term impact. But a decent health plan, vacation or sitter, all cost money. Less income often means less choice. And greater vulnerability. As the economy rebounds how do you create financial wellbeing without the time, childcare or mindshare you need?
Financial Wellness Is Wellness
“(I need) time and money to go to therapy.”
“(I need) childcare, extra funds to buy more resources like prepared meals. Cleaning supplies or services and resources to help keep my child entertained while stuck at home and I’m working.”
“Money would make it easier to get meals and essentials and pay for a babysitter.”
Emily Fredrix Goodman, a Communications Leader in Financial Services, also studies the economic impact of the childcare crisis. She said, “There’s definitely a very strong link between financial wellness and any kind of wellness.” It’s a significant source of power in our society. It means that you can find childcare you’re happy with. Or take time to care for yourself through illness or injury. Emily added, “The inability to have income and wealth is certainly a mental health and quality of life issue.” Income is the first step but it’s not the full story. If your income suddenly stops, due to job loss or illness, without wealth you don’t have protection. And unfortunately, women are not conditioned to make the link between financial wellness and overall wellness.
And Women Took a Huge Financial Hit
“I’m (Discouraged by) financial Instability and unable to pay for childcare.”
“(I’m worried about) making enough money to pay bills.”
“(I want) the ability to quit my job and be a stay at home Mom. Juggling work and babysitting is too much.”
In our study, less than half of Mothers say their Employers are doing ‘well or very well’ with benefits, flexibility, or policies for the pandemic. Which is why over a million Mothers still haven’t returned to the workforce. In the Marshall Plan for Moms study, most (74%) Mothers had to downshift, reduce hours or become self-employed last year. And there’s a long-term cost. Emily explained, “I worry that 20 – 30 years from now, when a lot of us with young kids are going to be getting ready to retire, what money are we missing out on because we took a break, lesser job or no job at all. Sadly, that affects your quality of life at the end of your years. There’s a huge link.”
And Most Lack the bandwidth to Change it
“The expectation to be working 100% of the time. Lack of breaks. Awful pay. Increasing responsibilities without additional compensation.”
“I have to watch my kid and work right now bc all daycares in my area no longer use masks and my kid is not eligible for the vaccine yet. I’m trying to do two jobs at once (childcare, and my normal job ) and the stress is unbearable.”
Mothers often fall into a vicious time trap. We crave stability. Yet taking all of those stability-making-steps, like growing our careers, creating the culture at home and caring for active kids, require a ton of time. More than anyone really has. And because work hasn’t been family friendly or flexible, to accommodate the realities of caregiving, we try to leap over the wage and leadership gaps by working nonstop. But in most families, Moms remain on point for the majority of housework and childcare. So, the paid work that has the potential to create better choices over time, is in constant competition with the laundry, dishes and school forms.
And it’s Bigger Than the Wage Gap
Emily, said, “So, I was doing a lot of research and trying to make people understand, that if women are leaving the workforce, they’re not going to be making money. And that’s going to affect so many different things, including their retirement benefits. I was waiting for the Financial Times or the Wall Street Journal to write some big story other than, ‘wow look women still aren’t really working.’ Because this has tremendous economic implications for everyone, whether or not you have a child.” Although permanent paid leave is on the table. And child tax credits are happening this year, systems change takes time. What can you do to regain your financial footing now?
Reclaim Your Headspace
Are you happy with your current job? Most of our surveyed Moms (54%) in July and August are not. It doesn’t need to happen all at once. But you can plan your bright future and be intentional about your financial wellbeing. Whether it’s to upgrade your career, return to work or the office strong, start a business or introduce other new streams of income, it all requires mental space. So outsource, spouse source or eliminate what’s not essential to reduce the work and mental loads. And then allocate time, even if it’s 15 minutes per day, to think. And gradually map out a strategy for what you want to do.
Find Your People
Whatever you want to do in your career, it’s easier with help and people you can learn from. Whether you plan to grow your personal brand as a thought leader or speaker in your current industry. Or find a better position. So, reconnect with the fabulous people in your life who are either doing what you want to do next or know people who are. You can always create a new network, with industry connections to support your goals. Or find your tribe online.
Consider Long Term Investments
It’s a good time to upgrade professionally because many industries face labor shortages as the economy improves. So, it’s the perfect time find a better boss, paycheck or flexibility. But women also benefit by connecting wealth building activities into the routine. Some Moms are finding renewed purpose not just additional money from side projects, businesses, or board service. Others have built financial cushion with investments, like real estate or selling their companies.
It may feel impossible to add anything new to your overflowing to-do list. But approaching your financial future with clarity and a focus on progress, will open new possibilities for you. And reduce stress if you have to face instability at work or a crisis, like a global pandemic.
Share your pandemic experiences! How are the latest changes affecting your life? It’s quick and the results from this study are used to advocate better support for parents.
Employers, let us help you transform your workplace into an environment where caregivers thrive. Learn about Allies @ Work.
Many thanks to the talented Emily Fredrix Goodman!
Emily Fredrix Goodman is a writer and mother in New Jersey, where she lives with her husband and son. After a career as a journalist, she now works in communications. She writes the newsletter Caregiving Crisis, which examines the economic implications of the pandemic’s toll on caregivers. Via the free newsletter that is equal parts media and news analysis, piecing together of trends and snarky gifs, Emily aims to inform a population that is otherwise too busy to do it.Tags: Achieving Goals, Career development, entrepreneurship, Moms Career Growth, professional development, Working Moms