As working parents struggle to juggle childcare, working remotely and keeping the house intact in the COVID era, moms’ careers are taking the brunt of the pandemic’s repercussions. The results of Care.com’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey confirm that.
The survey of 3,848 parents in May 2020 found that 55 percent of women respondents—and 49 percent of men—said they’d made career/workplaces changes so they can afford or provide childcare. “Career/workplace changes” include cutting down on or increasing work hours, quitting their jobs, taking on additional jobs, passing on promotions or new job opportunities because of the hours required, and transitioning to full-time remote work. Further, 72 percent of women said their job has been impacted due to childcare plans falling through, while 75 percent of parents said the pandemic has impacted the way they manage their child with their partner. Unsurprisingly, 82 percent of parents surveyed said they have a new appreciation for their childcare provider, and 42 percent of those surveyed said they’re more concerned about the cost of childcare now than they were pre-pandemic.
Other recent studies have shown that moms’ careers are at risk of hitting a major pandemic-induced roadblock. With moms getting an average of only 2.6 uninterrupted work hours per day (half as many as dads), plus 65+ hours of chores per week (twice as many as pre-pandemic), and women being twice as likely to quit their jobs post-pandemic as men, it’s no question that women’s progress will suffer. In fact, a recent Bonnier Custom Insights survey showed that women are twice as likely as men to have been negatively impacted at work by the pandemic. Not to mention, the sheer anxiety working mothers are facing will cost the economy $341 billion. So, what gives?
The Cost of Care Survey’s findings prove at least one thing: Childcare—or lack thereof—is the big driver of parents’ career woes. As the pandemic severely impacted the childcare industry, a predicted 40 percent of all daycares in the US will close their doors permanently without an industry bailout. The combination of strict safety regulations on childcare facilities and many parents worried about the risks of sending their kids to daycare, the industry is at risk of tanking completely. Conversely, moms who do choose to send their children to daycare are often shamed for it. If it sounds like a lose-lose situation, that’s because it is.
And, of course, it gets worse. New data shows that older kids (10-19) are, despite what was previously understood by scientists, just as likely to spread the virus to others as adults are. Whether or not schools reopen come fall, it’ll likely be far more than half of moms who are forced to make decisions to alter their careers due to childcare.
To offset what working parents are facing, employers need to take a family-friendly approach to reopening offices in the coming months. Every decision made by companies and parents alike will cause ripple effects on working families, the economy and women’s progress for years to come.