Before World War I, women rarely held jobs. Most were expected to be homemakers and raise children while their husbands provided for the family.
During the war years, however, the labor shortage in both America and Europe was severe. Many businesses turned to employing women who would work cheaper but still had the same productivity rate as men.
From then on, employers began taking advantage of this new population of educated female workers, offering them better hours with higher pay. Today, about 57 percent of the workforce are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Those who are not holding jobs are likely to be running their businesses. The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) revealed that females now operate at least 11 million firms in the United States, employing around 9 million people. They also account for almost 40 percent of all privately held companies in the country and generate over 4 percent of the total revenues.
Unfortunately, many women still struggle to either get employment or open a business (more so grow it). One of the reasons is children.
Why Mothers Can’t Leave Their Kids
A 2013 article in Atlantic shared over 40 percent of women with children would eventually leave their jobs. Mothers have a long list of reasons they cannot work full-time or even commit to a job or a business while raising children:
- Managing their time is difficult. Stress skyrockets when mothers already have kids. They need to manage their time appropriately among demanding responsibilities. In fact, even new mothers don’t get rest. About 25 percent of them go back to work only two weeks after giving birth.
- They don’t want to miss important milestones. The data from the International Labor Organization (ILO) revealed that Americans are some of the most overworked people in the world. They spent nearly 140 more hours than the Japanese, who are already known for being exhausted workers. But mothers also perform other types of work at home, from cooking the meals to cleaning the home. They can miss out on important events in their children’s lives.
- Many parents find the cost of childcare expensive. Many mothers would rather stay at home than opt for childcare because of the high cost. Recent information suggests that parents spend at least $8,000 on annual childcare.
But Parents Have Options
Many parents don’t know, though, that they do have options, especially when it comes to daycare programs and services that make childcare more affordable. A growing number of schools now offer the Early Head Start and Head Start programs.
Early Head Start is ideal for pregnant women and their children below 3 years old. Head Start, meanwhile, is for kids from 3 to 5 years old. However, both are federally funded programs for low-income families that promote school readiness for kids while encouraging parents to participate in many ways.
The Early Head Start program, moreover, will reduce gaps in development between children from different backgrounds. This program also provides a better foundation for a child’s educational future and work opportunities.
It provides a family support system, which helps parents create routines and skills to help their children thrive. This can lead further into other community resources such as public schools and daycare settings later on in life.
Many studies also show that early childhood education can also provide lifelong benefits. Early Head Start can enhance the socialization skills of kids.
Children as young as 2 years old will already show signs of socialization. They enjoy playing with kids or sharing the same toys. The Early Head Start program can expand their social circle by allowing them to mingle with kids from different backgrounds and collaborate with adults, such as teachers.
The program also ensures that the parents receive the best help in providing a healthy environment for the kids through wellness visits and nutrition counseling.
Tax Benefits for Parents
Parents can also maximize tax credits. Besides the child tax credit, there’s the child and dependent care tax credit.
It allows eligible working parents to write off as much as 50 percent of their $8,000 childcare expenses (good for two children) under the American Rescue Plan. They can receive the credit as a reduction to their tax liability or a refund. Either way, families will have more for childcare.
If the plan of the Biden Administration pushes through, by 2025, universal education will be available for pre-K students or kids between 3 and 4 years old. Parents can also take advantage of expanded tax credit by then that childcare expenses won’t make up over 7 percent of the family’s income.
Reality bites, they say. Juggling various responsibilities as mothers isn’t easy. Childcare is getting more expensive. But opportunities that make child-rearing more affordable and easier are also here, ready for the taking.