There’s no clearer sign of the times than the Federal Trade Commission commissioner testifying before the Senate on a live stream for greater support of working parents amidst the pandemic—while breastfeeding her newborn.
On August 5, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, the FTC commissioner since 2018, went viral on social media for nursing her daughter while discussing how the FTC can support working families. Along with a video clip of her speech, she posted on Twitter, “Our responsibilities don’t organize themselves around our work schedules, especially during the pandemic.”
The mom of four got plenty of praise for being so transparent with her responsibilities and priorities. Rebecca and her two-month-old daughter served as a prime example of working moms doing everything they can—including handling the bulk of childcare duties—to stay afloat amidst the pandemic.
Rebecca is the first sitting commissioner to have a baby while in office and, in turn, to take maternity leave (and she’s technically still on it), which she took partially to make her colleagues feel comfortable doing the same. She told CNBC that she hopes being candid about life as a working mom will show other working parents, “if you’re struggling, I’m right there with you.”
Further, she noted she has “all the resources imaginable.”
“Candidly, I had a period this spring where I thought maybe I should quit my job because I have all these kids at home. I’m not doing a good job taking care of them. I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job at my job while I’m trying to do both,” Rebecca told CNBC. “And there are a lot of tears on everybody’s part and that feels terrible. It feels terrible. And the stress is real.”
She’s not alone. Juggling work and childcare full-time, all in the same place, is proving to be too much for many parents, moms especially. A recent study shows that working moms are getting only 2.6 hours of uninterrupted work per day, making it harder for moms to stay in their positions, especially as schools and daycares around the nation announce they won’t be reopening come fall.
Recent surveys show that working parents are leaving the workforce, or planning to, at alarming rates, due to the pandemic-induced lack of childcare. A Healthline Media survey found that a quarter of parents won’t be able to work if schools remain closed, while a survey by Cleo, a parenting benefits and resources company, found that one-third have already left due to COVID-related challenges. With women being twice as likely as men to leave their positions post-pandemic, working moms need all the help we can get, and fast.
We commend this strong Mama for being so honest in such a high-visibility position. Hopefully her efforts will not go unnoticed—and working parents can finally get the help we need.