Millennial women are an empowered generation, yet they’re more traditional than you’d think. As they raise children, millennial women reclaim what it means to be a stay-at-home mom, or SAHM for short.
Millennial women may have grown up as the first generation virtually immersed in technology, but when it comes to tradition, more millennial women are working at home compared to their mothers and the women who came before. And thanks to technology, they don’t have to miss out on jobs while doing so.
Rate Of SAHMs Rising Among Millennial Women
Born from 1965 to 1976, Gen Xers led the rise in mothers working outside of the home. From the period when Gen X babies were small, grew up and raised their own children, the total rate of working mothers nearly doubled, and it’s estimated that nearly a million millennial women become mothers annually.
Technology’s evolution allows modern women the empowerment of joining tradition with innovation. Millennial women can raise their babies and work at home, proving that women’s purpose does not lie in one or the other. SAHMs are breadwinners, too.
Happiness Vs. Struggles To Balance Work With Parenting
While a lack of employment opportunities may also contribute to the growing number of millennial women staying at home with their children, many remain in the home because they want to. All of these reasons are valid to millennial women, and that doesn’t make them better or worse mothers than earlier generations.
Most mothers will agree that caring for their loved ones is the most fulfilling job in the world. Unfortunately, for many, foregoing work outside the home to care for family is not financially feasible. Millennial women are saying you can do both. A desire for family flexibility remains the top reason why 90% of mothers work from home. The reasons why more women of this generation are staying home encompass both happiness and struggles to balance work with parenting. Some millennial women work outside their fields to get adequate part-time hours in by teaching piano, tutoring and creating a business built on their hobbies to make staying at home possible.
Millennials already save for financial freedom and demand more flexibility at work, and they catch flak for “whining,” a.k.a. speaking up for a healthy work-life balance. Compared to other countries — even some third-world countries — the United States has poor family policies. It’s one of only three countries in the world to not mandate paid maternity leave by law, next to Oman and Papua New Guinea. Are we a world power or aren’t we?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers up to 12 unpaid weeks of leave and represented a promising first step when enacted in 1993. It all begs the question: If the family unit was ever so valuable to what it means to be an American, why did it take until the nineties to develop policies, albeit poor ones, that spoke to that so-called value? Americans may not have their paid maternity leave cake and eat it too, apparently.
Women are mothers in the home, but in a way that the patriarchy never dared dream. Millennial women are doing what they must to provide for their families without missing their child’s first step, working themselves into an early grave or never seeing their partners because they have to pull 12-hour shifts just to get by.
A working spouse adds valuable income to the household, but the additional take-home pay may be drastically reduced by healthcare and childcare costs and maintaining a roof over one’s head, among other essentials. SAHMs shift the dynamic but still deserve so much more.
Game-Changing Millennial Women Prefer Staying At Home
For SAHMs who have children, 56% prefer to stay home instead of working outside the home while 39% who don’t have children would prefer to take on the role of homemaker. Such numbers make you think women are happy with “ye olde” patriarchal practices, but that’s not the whole story: these women, unsatisfied with the status quo, are changing the system in whatever way they can.
The lack of proper maternity leave, the rising costs of childcare, unsupportive or nonexistent family policies and the ever-present wage gap lead millennial women to take their futures by the reins and preside over their homes as SAHMs, making money and a fulfilling life for their families, as best as they’re able to, even if that means pinching pennies.
For many millennial women, staying at home is both a desire and a convenience, but it’s not about having your cake and eating it, too. Taking care of a child is a full-time job and these women add more work on top of it so they can do more than simply survive and subsist. Millennial women are rejecting the status-quo pigeonhole of “mother equals homemaker” and are finding value in both caring for their families and holding careers.