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February 20, 2024

July 12, 2023

What Millennial Moms Need: A Look at Maternal Mental Health, Pandemic Parenting, and Beyond

E:
181
with
Jill Koziol
Co-founder and CEO of Motherly

What You'll Learn

  • Why the State of Motherhood Survey Matters for Millennial Moms
  • The Support Millennial Moms Need in the Workplace
  • The Importance of Accessible, Affordable Childcare
  • Why Millennial Moms Need Support in Household Labor
  • Why Maternal Mental Health Awareness Matters
  • How Moms are Preparing for the Recession
  • How Millennial Moms Can Advocate for Themselves and Each Other

When it comes to maternal mental health, millennial moms are struggling. But the more we become aware of that, the more we can collectively offer better support for moms. 

Today, I’m joined by Jill Kozoil, co-founder and CEO of Motherly, to unpack the company’s annual State of Motherhood survey and discuss what millennial moms need and how we can change the way they are supported. 

An Unprecedented Time for Maternal Mental Health

We’re in a unique new time for maternal mental health. Between societal ideals of perfection in motherhood, unrealistic pressures to do and be it all, and the new labor brought on by the pandemic, many millennial moms are in a vulnerable state. 

But we’re also in an unprecedented time of mental health awareness. We’re more aware, open, and honest about mental health than ever before. 

That means that we have the potential to create change and offer impactful support for moms everywhere. 

It’s our mission here at Momwell, and I admire other companies, like Motherly, that are committed to the same vision. I couldn’t wait to dig into the results of the State of Motherhood survey and chat with Jill about what it tells us about maternal mental health and what moms really need. 

Why the State of Motherhood Survey Matters for Millenial Moms

Motherly was founded to support a diverse range of moms by providing evidence-based, mom-centered, non-judgmental information to empower moms to make decisions that are best for their families. 

Jill said that mothers are being asked to nurture in a society that doesn’t nurture them back. Caregiving is a foundation of society, and mothers need support—within the home, in the workplace, and also at the governmental level. 

Mothers are being asked to nurture in a society that doesn’t nurture them back.

That’s why Motherly began conducting the annual State of Motherhood survey—so they could gather data and become the amplifying voice for moms and advocate for systemic change. 

This year’s survey is the 6th, and it reveals many insights into what moms are going through.

We’re still seeing changes in motherhood brought on by the pandemic, we’re attempting to recover and find our footing, and we’re on the verge of a recession. 

Jill said that modern moms are feeling like they’re in unstable water, and the themes that emerged from the survey shed light on what mothers are experiencing currently. 

The Support Millennial Moms Need in the Workplace

One of the themes that has emerged over the last few years is the “Great Resignation” (one third of moms in the workforce resigned from their positions in 2020-2021). 

This year, the number of stay-at-home moms almost doubled from 2022, increasing from 15-25%. At first glance, this might insinuate that the Great Resignation is continuing. But Jill pointed out that when it comes to data, context matters. 

While the increase seems drastic, historically the number of stay-at-home moms is typically 24-25%, which means that the 15% from last year was the actual anomaly. 

Jill believes that the reason the number of stay-at-home moms was lower the previous year was that mothers had access to more work flexibility. Employers were more likely to allow work from home and flexible hours. But now, a year later, there’s a push to return to a traditional work environment, likely contributing to more moms staying at home. 

Jill said millennial moms are opting out of the workforce because they’re finding it unsustainable for them—largely due to lack of flexibility. 

Moms are opting out of the workforce because they’re finding it unsustainable for them

Many moms want positions that allow them to work remotely, eliminating commutes, and often easing some of the mental load burden.

While there are some jobs that can’t be done remotely, and some benefits from working in-person, it’s important to consider what working moms are looking for. Taking these trends into account matters when we think about the future of work and what moms are wanting from their workplaces. 

The Importance of Accessible, Affordable Childcare

Another big factor impacting the decision to stay-at-home is a lack of affordable childcare. According to the survey, 67% of mothers spend over $1,000 per month on childcare. 

Jill pointed out that the US tax code wasn’t written with consideration of mothers or caregivers in the workforce. Because of that, our post-tax dollars are where the cost of childcare comes from, because access to childcare isn’t seen as a requirement. But for working parents, this is a requirement. 

Coming off of the heels of the pandemic, when it became apparent that working and caregiving at the same time is exceptionally challenging, affordable childcare matters more than ever. 

And because moms are working more than ever (with 47% being the primary breadwinner in their family), it’s important to consider these needs on a systemic level. 

Jill pointed out that millennial and Gen Z women are having children later in life and are more educated than their male counterparts. It’s no longer a “nice to have” to figure out how to recruit, retain, and support working moms—it’s an economic imperative. 

It’s no longer a “nice to have” to figure out how to recruit, retain, and support working moms.

Why Millennial Moms Need Support in Household Labor

Another important data point related to working moms is the division of labor. Research has shown that when moms outearn their partners, they take on more repsonsibility in the home, likely out of working mom guilt and the pressure to show up 100% in both roles. 

The State of Motherhood survey confirmed that the labor distribution is only widening—moms continue to shoulder more household labor, regardless of whether they work outside the home. 

The pandemic likely played a role in this increase as well. Jill pointed out that before the pandemic, many millennial moms were trying to create a different kind of partnership and family structure with more equity. We were making strides in that direction. 

But Jill said that when a crisis occurs, we enter survival mode and fall back on what we know. That’s what happened with the division of labor. Now, moms are having to claw their way back to equality in the home. 

When a crisis occurs, we enter survival mode and fall back on what we know.

Breaking out of the patterns laid down in the pandemic requires many resetting conversations and ongoing communication with partners. 

Why Maternal Mental Health Awareness Matters

While moms may be struggling to share the invisible load, there is another pressing concern at play—for the first time in the State of Motherhood’s history, moms reported mental health as being their top concern. 

Jill said that moms are concerned for their own mental health as well as their partners’ and their children. And, while therapy isn’t accessible for everyone, which can contribute to these worried, many moms are seeking help. 

46% of moms are in or currently seeking therapy (32% due to anxiety, 12%, due to depression, 16% due to relationship challenges and 15% due to postpartum challenges). 

46% of moms are in or currently seeking therapy

This does show that moms are struggling—but it also verifies that maternal mental health awareness is increasing. 

Jill said that millennial moms are recognizing their mental health needs, getting more sleep, overcoming stigmas around therapy, and letting people know that they need support. She believes that moms are finding ways to prioritize themselves, which will likely lead to long-term greater maternal mental health. 

It’s important to me that we continue to push forward on this front, providing access to quality therapy support for moms, how and when they need it—especially in the postpartum period, where we’re often so vulnerable to stigmas and feelings of failure when we struggle. 

I’m encouraged to see moms starting to advocate for themselves.

How Moms are Preparing for the Recession

Moms are also actively cutting back in preparation for the recession. 8 out of 10 moms are concerned about a possible recession and 71% are planning to cut back spending, most often through reducing going out or spending money on themselves. 

Jill pointed out that there is an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy that arises when moms are concerned for a recession. Social media and the media play a role in people’s perception of the economy. When we hear about a recession for months, it’s natural to start to cut back. 

But when moms, who are making 85% of the purchase decisions in a family, get anxious about finances and start cutting spending, it puts the brakes on the economy even faster. 

These concerns can also have a long-term impact on moms financially, forcing them to make decisions about where to allot savings (for example, their children’s college funds or their own retirement funds.) 

This only increases the mental load and contributes to anxiety around finances for moms. 

How Millennial Moms Can Advocate for Themselves and Each Other

It’s clear that millennial moms need help in several areas—in mental health accessibility, labor division, and workplace policies. 

But the good news is that collectively, we can make a difference. Jill pointed out that moms can be an incredible voting bloc—when we unite, real change can happen. 

She said that while moms come from all walks of life and are not aligned on all political fronts, more than 80% of moms are aligned on two policies, affordable childcare and paid family leave—and they’re willing to cross party lines to see it happen. 

In the United States, political divides are strong. But to have areas where moms are so aligned means there is potential for change. Jill believes that if we can use data to galvanize mothers, unite, and advocate for change, we can really make magic happen. 

Jill said that what moms really need is empathy, support, and empowerment. We need to feel seen, to know that we are not alone, and to be supported on our journey. This can look different for all of us, but we all need support. 

What moms really need is empathy, support, and empowerment.

It’s not only important that moms receive the quality information they need, but also that they have the confidence and empowerment to trust themselves to make the best decisions for their family. 

Jill also said that moms need holistic solutions in a variety of areas, from mental health to answers to motherhood challenges to workplace flexibility and everything in between. 

Companies like Momwell and Motherly aim to do just that—support and empower moms at every stage of their journey. 

Returning to work soon and wondering how to cope? Learn how to Prepare Emotionally to Return to Work after Baby with our mini-course! Register today!

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Tags:

Mom support, Family leave, Childcare

Stage:

Postpartum, Motherhood

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OUR GUEST

Jill Koziol
Co-founder and CEO of Motherly

Jill Koziol is the co-founder and CEO of Motherly, a wellbeing destination empowering mothers to thrive. An Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company and a Parity.org Best Company for Women to Advance, Motherly is built for mothers, by mothers. Engaging an audience of 40 million+ readers and viewers a month, Motherly offers on-demand parent education classes, Webby-award winning videos, The Motherly Podcast, essays and articles, and a highly-engaged social media community. 

Co-author of “The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama: Redefining the Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum Journey” and “This Is Motherhood: A Motherly Collection of Reflections and Practices", Jill is passionate about serving and empowering women and mothers because when mamas are successful, everyone wins. She is an advocate for families, female founders, and how to thrive with multiple sclerosis. Jill lives in Park City, Utah with her husband and two daughters.

Erica Djossa
Erica Djossa
PMH-C | Founder of Momwell
Erica is the founder of Momwell, providing educational resources and virtual therapy for moms. She is a mom of three boys and a registered psychotherapist. Erica’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, Breakfast Television, Scary Mommy, Medium, Pop Sugar, and Romper. how they want it.
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