The State of Motherhood
Did you know that fathers work, on average, 75 hours per week? 46 of those hours are paid work, 16 are household chores and the remaining 13 hours is spent with their children.
Now compare that to mothers, who are only paid for 20 of the 77 hours they work ever week, with 30 hours in housework and 27 hours dedicated to providing childcare to their little ones.
It’s no secret that mothers manage two careers simultaneously: one as a working professional, the other as a parent.
Support for Working Mums
Katrina McCarter, author of ‘The Mother of All Opportunities’ and ‘Marketing to Mums’ conducted a survey of over 400 mothers across Australia with a diverse range of work arrangements. Unsurprisingly, 63% stated they felt unsupported and misunderstood by society, while 40% of mothers acknowledged their mental health had declined since becoming a mother.
Connecting the dots?
“The mum guilt is real”, says Lisa Kroesche Boyce – founder of The She Rebellion. She believes mothers can only overcome this by maintaining their own sense of identity, with necessary support systems in place.
“We’re expected to raise our children as though we don’t have jobs and work as though we don’t have children,” said one mum in McCarter’s survey. Perhaps this is one contributing factor to the increased number of mamas (6.7%) who identified as self-employed in the 2016 Census?
Another mum says, “The expectation to still function as you used to, do all that you used to, be the same as you used to is insane and unrealistic. There’s no acknowledgement, support or understanding of women stepping into motherhood.” This lends itself to another conversation: the limited level of practical and financial support offered to mothers and fathers in Australia.
While many women qualify for Centrelink’s Paid Parental Leave, it is a short-lived relief in the long-term commitment of being a parent to a newborn.
We know that women currently retire with 47% less superannuation than men, and 43% of women work part-time in order to balance child-rearing responsibilities while their partners work full-time. We also know that superannuation fails to accumulate when a woman takes leave to raise a child. And with women returning to work part-time acknowledging that the decision severely impacted their career opportunities and barely offset the cost of childcare, working mothers are finding they’ve been left behind financially.
With this in mind, the nod to mothers in the Federal Budget 2021 is better late than never. Higher Child Care Subsidies for families with two or more children aged five and under means women can opt to maintain a work-life (in many cases for their own sense of self-worth) and earn an income to support their families. Reconsideration of the $450 superannuation threshold is amazing news for women and families around Australia, too.
But this is just the start of a longer conversation to be had with the Australian government in the years to come.
Fact. Mothers need significantly more emotional support in the first 12-18 months following the birth of a child.
How many mothers reading this have sought professional help for post-partum depression, only to be told they will need to wait 6-8 weeks for an appointment? Give us a moment to count the hands…
Unfortunately, a whopping 58% of mothers in the survey felt a strong sense of failure in their first year of motherhood. With 1 in 7 women diagnosed with postnatal depression every year in Australia, it is unsurprising to discover the significant gap in support offered to mothers in their plight to raise children and fulfil work expectations simultaneously.
Making Time For You
This is where self-care comes into play. Lisa Kroesche Boyce is a strong advocate for practising purposeful self-care as a means for being a better parent and happier you. Having survived postnatal depression among other hurdles faced as a new parent, Lisa says “I wanted more for my life. I needed it. And so I began my long journey to reclaim my power.”
It’s easy to forget about yourself, mamas. So take a deep breath, grab a cup of tea and settle in to discover some fantastic self-care treaties you can enjoy on your path to finding and redefining you.