Did you know that moms are the sole or primary breadwinner in four out of 10 households with children? According to the Pew Research Center, women make up almost half (47%) of the U.S. labor force today, and the employment rate of married mothers with children has increased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011.
The role of women in the workplace and home is constantly changing and the old tradition of mom stays home is being challenged economically and socially every day. Before I became the sole provider for my family, I out earned my husband during our Silicon Valley double income days. How does anyone survive in Silicon Valley without a double income anyway? Not everyone is a multi-millionaire in the Bay Area. We wanted a better life so we moved.
Before we took the leap and relocated to a new state, we talked about me going back to work following a year break due to a lay off. My husband was ready for a corporate break himself and needed the downtime. I landed a position in a company I love. I feel lucky, but being a breadwinning mom isn’t easy.
I’m not a big fan of the term “breadwinning mom” in the first place. I have a career, earn an income and my husband happens to be home with our kids. It’s catchy though and describes a sea change in the world of business and home. You can find countless blogs, opinions and more about the topic.
What I do find fascinating and almost comical are the reactions my husband and I get when we tell people that he stays home with the kids and I head to the office every day. The study I mentioned revealed that people for the most part want women in the workplace. It also revealed the same people aren’t comfortable with the idea that men are stay home dads. Hence the mixed reactions my husband and I experience.
While we all face different work and life pressures, here’s five ways to help manage and thrive as a breadwinning mom:
1) It’s your life, your family, your choice
You are the only one walking in your shoes and it’s important to remember that it’s your family you are making the choices for. Stay strong when it comes to what you believe is right for them.
2) After hours isn’t a second job
As roles shift at work, so should the roles at home. Cooking and cleaning after a full day of work shouldn’t be the second job for the man or women breadwinner. Sharing home responsibilities will also set a great example for the kids and help keep you sane.
3) Your attitude will help you rise or make you fall
Your attitude is your altitude. We all have good days and bad. If everything is a complaint, then you’ll never find peace or happiness with your situation. Practice daily gratitude. Write it down or jot some notes in your phone. Acknowledge one thing you are grateful for each day to start and then grow the list to three, four or more.
4) We teach them what we show them
Our kids are listening and learning with everything we do. Scary but true. By being breadwinning moms, we’re already the shift they need to see so why not continue to make it a positive one. We’re setting the example that opportunities are endless. It’s not one size fits all.
5) Apply your oxygen mask first
I recently traveled with my kids and the airline attendant came to me with the oxygen mask and told me to be sure to put my mask on first. Take care of yourself first. Whether it’s yoga, a walk, meditation or stretches. Your health is the most important thing. Without it, everything above won’t matter.
We can always find someone with a contrary opinion about the choices we make in life. The facts are clear that breadwinning moms make up a significant number of the workforce and the trend will continue. How we handle the responsibility is entirely up to us.
What’s your take?
Kim Parker and Wendy Wang, “Modern Parenthood: Roles of Moms and Dads Converge as They Balance Work and Family,” Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends project, March 14, 2013.
The Working Mother Report, Breadwinning Moms, Working Mother Research Institute.