Approximately 57 percent of mothers in the United States were gainfully employed in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And those mothers are spending more time at the office than ever before, too. As per 2018 Pew Research Center data, the average mom works approximately 25 hours each week—that’s more than double the time most mothers spent at work just half a century ago.
However, while moms’ workdays may be getting longer, the hours mothers have to spend parenting aren’t getting any shorter. To gain more insight, read on to discover what it’s really like to be a working mom.
You might be excited to go back to work after your baby is born
While your friends and co-workers may assume that your maternity leave was essentially a vacation, those long hours of feeding, bathing, changing, and rocking a baby aren’t exactly the most relaxing. Though people may ask how you ever found the wherewithal to go back to your job, returning to the land of stale coffee and adult interaction might actually feel like more of a break than your parental leave did.
To-the-minute scheduling is the only way to survive
If you thought your calendar was jam-packed before, kids will definitely add a new layer of complexity to your scheduling struggle. The time you used to spend getting yourself ready in the morning is now time spent getting yourself dressed, as well as feeding, changing, clothing, and playing with your baby, dropping them off at daycare or handing them over to a babysitter, and still trying to get to work on time.
You really will need a village to help you
That whole “it takes a village” thing? It’s 100 percent true for working moms. From teachers and school administrators to family members and friends, you need a whole team behind you to do everything from remind you about your kid’s school projects and field trips to lending you a hand on those days your usual babysitter gets sick or your kid comes down with something.
Some people will assume you’re competitive with stay-at-home-moms
Some moms work out of economic necessity and some moms stay at home for the same reason. Some moms work because they love it and some moms stay at home because they don’t. Regardless of your reasons for working or another mom’s reason for not working, you know there’s no bad blood between parents on either side of things—you’re all just trying to make it through the day with your sanity and bank accounts intact.
You’ll probably end up pulling more weight around the house than your partner
Even if you and your partner had a relatively equitable division of labor before you had kids, that may be a thing of the past once you return to work. In families where both parents work full-time, moms still do significantly more housework than their male counterparts, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that was compiled between 2009 and 2013.
Your commute might start to feel like a break.
Minutes or even hours spent stuck in traffic or on a packed train may have once been frustrating, but that time that you can now use to catch up on a podcast or two—or to listen to music that wasn’t made by Raffi—might just feel like a welcome break now that you have children.
In fact, taking this time to yourself could make you a better parent in the long run. “When you are coming home from work, decompress,” suggests therapist and life coach Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D. “Do not be on the phone taking conference calls and checking email in traffic. Take the car ride home to listen to music or a podcast, stop off at the gym for a 15-minute workout. Decompress so you can be a better spouse and parent when you get home.”