I am a stay-at-home mother. Like most women who identify as SAHMs, I work from home as my schedule allows. In fact, very few women who are at home with their children will admit that they do absolutely nothing beyond parenting and housework. Some run their own businesses while others volunteer. Still more work part-time while women like me freelance for a living. This is not because the notion of a wife as mother and homemaker is absurd. It is because women are amazing. So, why do most employers think the opposite?
Contrary to popular belief, there are a number of reasons why it’s great for both mothers and employers that moms fit work into their lives. Four main reasons should motivate employers to re-think policies and create working environments that favor a female employee’s ability to spend time raising her children at home while continuing with her career.
1. More mothers than ever are college educated.
We’re accustomed to operating at a level beyond poopie and silly faces. If we didn’t have some sort of professional outlet to tend to, we’d probably go insane from boredom. When my cousin took a year off to be at home with her newly adopted toddler, she danced on her first day back to work. The mental monotony was torture. Diving into work relieved bad stress and created good stress, the kind that motivates a person to keep moving and growing, both as a parent and as an employee.
2. Mothers can make multiple schedules and deadlines work.
The popular belief is that working mothers can’t devote enough time to the job. The reality is that mothers somehow find a way to stretch themselves to fulfill everyone’s needs. For decades women have been able to traffic multiple children around the neighborhood while making sure their entire families are fed, clean, and their houses are sparkling. We make it work because we have no other choice but to make it work. Snicker at the term “domestic engineer” all you’d like, when your department needs a deadline met it’s the mother who’s going to make it happen.
3. Mothers are the most dedicated human beings in the world.
Another stereotype that plagues working women is the idea that mothers can’t possibly dedicate themselves to the workplace. The reality is that no one understands the meaning of dedication better than a mother. If a woman wants to commit to staying at home with her children, and is also willing to commit to work, chances are she has a better understanding of what that commitment entails than do most full time employees.
4. Mothers know how to balance compassion with discipline.
Moms are excellent bosses who manage to communicate effectively with non-native speakers in a team environment 24/7/365. Think there’s a huge difference between a toddler with a 25-word vocabulary and a junior staffer with a smartphone addiction? Think again. No one is better equipped to handle a supervisory role than a woman who has had field experience raising little ones.
5. Mothers can generate effective, creative solutions in a timely fashion.
Along with multitasking, mothers have a fantastic gift for improvising solutions to multiple problems on a daily basis. We know how to use our environment to our advantage in order to solve and even avoid technical, mechanical and interpersonal issues.
It’s time to look past the issue of family leave that often, at most, covers the first year of a child’s life. Mothers don’t stop parenting when their child turns one. In fact, that’s when some of the really hard work of parenting begins. Creating a pro-family culture means more than throwing paid family leave into the pot. It means re-thinking how we approach mothers as prospective employees and how we work with mothers to establish effective parenting environments that also benefit the workplace.