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What Working Moms Really Want for Valentine’s Day (Ahem, Dads)
Cards and candy just aren't going to cut it.
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Next week, many working moms will be showered with cards, candy, flowers and more from their spouses. I’m not knocking it. Valentine’s Day might be a hokey holiday, but it’s also a reminder to show appreciation for our romantic partners—something that can get lost in the daily grind of working parenthood.
So, dads, please keep it coming with the chocolate truffles, but let’s be honest: Working moms need so much more from you. If you want to really set our hearts aflutter, we humbly suggest you add these moves to your romantic repertoire:
Give us a break. Working moms shouldered the bulk of the added childcare burden during the pandemic. The recent Omicron surge nearly pushed us past our mental breaking point. We are burned out. We are depleted. We are done. Let us veg out while you whisk the kids away, or even better, treat us to a solo staycation at a nearby hotel.
Tackle some chores. Full-time working moms are more likely than full-time working dads to do most domestic chores, according to Pew Research. That includes laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking and more. What’s better than coming home to a romantic dinner? A romantic dinner in a sparklingly clean home we didn’t have to scrub.
Tackle some organizational tasks. Even in marriages where spouses split hands-on housework and childcare equitably, working moms are still more likely to handle the “hidden load.” That includes the emotional labor of worrying about and nurturing ties with our families and friends, the cognitive load of actually scheduling and remembering doctor’s appointments and playdates and the mental load of anticipating it all. It’s exhausting. Our first suggestion? Take over crafting those Valentine’s cards our kids will be sending next week.
Create an equitable division of labor. What’s better than a little temporary relief? A permanent plan to lighten our loads. Even when working moms have a spouse who is game to divvy up duties in a fair way, it still falls to us to initiate the conversation and create a roadmap to a fairer marriage. Take the reins—it can even be fun, we promise.
Take your paid leave. The majority of dads take fewer than 10 days of parental leave after their baby is born. The problem? Not only does it reinforce the idea that mom is the default caretaker, it also disadvantages women in the workplace since moms are more likely to take their full leave, and thus look like less committed employees. You can level the playing field at home and work by taking your leave—and by taking advantage of other working parent perks, like flexible schedules.
Speak out. America is the only developed country without mandated maternity leave, and we pay thousands more for childcare than our European counterparts. We can’t fix these problems if it’s only moms who share their struggles. As author Lucas Mann aptly put it in a piece about why men don’t talk about paternity leave, “The burdens of postpartum life shouldn’t belong only to mothers; neither, then, should the act of giving voice to the experience.”
LOVE TO SEE IT
Apple is adding paid leave for its retail workers. The tech giant will now offer six weeks of paid parental leave for its retail workforce, with the ability to gradually ramp up work time for the first four weeks back.
HATE TO SEE IT
New research shows working moms are sleep deprived. In a study of 1,048 working moms, over half (53%) said they get fewer than six hours of sleep a night.
Nearly one million more men than women returned to the labor force in January. Men have recovered all the jobs they lost during the pandemic. Women still lag behind, because of childcare woes and other pandemic-related problems.
This newsletter was written by Audrey Goodson Kingo, Editor in Chief at Mother Honestly. Please send feedback, ideas and suggestions (or just say hello!) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you found this newsletter helpful, please share with a friend!