More women are becoming stay-at-home moms in 2023. But moms aren’t exactly leaving the workforce because they want to. No, they aren’t looking for more snuggles, arts and crafts, or Pilates time. They all don’t really love loading the dishwasher eight times a day and losing touch with their work bestie. It’s just not worth it for them to leave home.

Nearly 10,000 American mothers were surveyed for Motherly’s 2023 State Of Motherhood report. It found that the state of motherhood is, well, pretty grim and seriously lacking choices. Here are some of the key findings:

  • 25% of moms are holding down their forts now, compared to 15% in 2022.
  • 18% of moms changed jobs or left the workforce in the past year. Of those, 28% said they did so to be home with young kids, but 15% are staying home due to a lack of childcare.
  • About half of families (49%) rely on outside childcare, with 63% paying for 30 or more hours a week.
  • One in five moms say they aren’t satisfied with the care, and a whopping 69% say that’s because of the crushing expense. 

For many moms, that crushing expense is more than reason enough to stay home; 52% of those say they would need more affordable childcare to return to work. And besides the fact that childcare costs are an absolute nightmare for American families, moms also aren’t being granted enough flexibility to pull off juggling parenting and working outside the home: 64% of SAHMs say they would need a more flexible work schedule in order to return to work.

If you’re wondering where dads are in the equation, so are we. Because, while women are being driven out of the workforce by a lack of solid, affordable childcare options and scheduling conflicts, that’s not uniquely a female problem—it’s a family dilemma. At least, it should be.

Men are still the breadwinners more often. But 45% of wives are now earning the same as (or more than) their husbands. However, when women become mothers, that statistic dramatically shifts. Women’s identities outside the home get trampled by having children—and by their husbands’ not-so-miraculous ability to maintain their careers. While about 20% of married women who don’t have kids outearn their husbands, only 15% of married moms do.

Now that women are being driven out of the workforce more and more, women’s earnings seem destined to keep shrinking. So, while women are asking for more flexibility at work, perhaps they need to be asking more of their husbands, like to help shoulder the burden of the kids they helped to create.

More moms staying home wouldn’t be so bad if they were doing so, happily. But becoming a stay-at-home mom when it doesn’t feel like a choice, which it no longer does, screams 1950s. Sixty-two percent of women say they are getting less than an hour a day to themselves, which explains why 46% are actively in therapy.

What isn’t new is that women—whether working outside the home or not—are still doing the bulk of home and kid duties; 58% of the moms surveyed said those duties primarily belong to them. While there are a lot of issues that are leading women to stay home, no matter what they decide, they’ll still be outrageously bogged down, lacking support, and, perhaps the most unsettling, lacking a real choice in the matter.

We told you—grim.


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