May 4, 2022

3 Challenges Facing Working Moms Today

Even as the constraints of the pandemic era have begun to lift, the current pressures felt by working moms have yet to alleviate.

In a recent Barna survey, working mothers shared with Barna that they are feeling overwhelmed, navigating workplace shifts and desiring time to prioritize self-care, findings we’ll take a closer look at in this article.

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1. Working Mothers Are More Likely Than Working Fathers to Feel Overwhelmed
With moms historically having shouldered the burden of domestic responsibilities and care of children and loved ones—a pattern that COVID exasperated—it comes as no surprise that employed mothers are feeling overwhelmed, even forgotten.

In an early 2022 survey, when asked how they feel about where we are in the pandemic, over one in three working mothers (36% of women who are part- or full-time employed and have children under 18 in their household) reports being overwhelmed.

That makes working mothers 13 percentage points more likely than working fathers (23%) to feel this way. This is further supported by the fact that working fathers—and all other men, in fact—are more likely than working mothers to say that they haven’t been affected by the pandemic (22% vs. 11%).

2. Mothers’ Shift to Work-from-Home Dynamic Was More Drastic than Fathers’
Barna data show that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, just over one in 10 working moms (12%) worked exclusively from home or remotely, while one-quarter of working fathers (26%) was doing so. Now, though most working mothers (45%) still go to an in-person job, the amount of mothers who are working from home has more than doubled; 30 percent tell Barna they work exclusively from home or remotely today. Meanwhile, the percentage of working-from-home fathers has remained the same, and working fathers instead experienced a significant increase in hybrid options (from 21% to 38%, compared to a 24% to 20% decline among working mothers).

While many mothers left the workforce during the COVID-19 crisis, the ones who are currently employed—whether they stayed through the pandemic or are among the percentage of women reentering the workforce—continue to navigate changes in their work environments and work expectations. Barna’s data surrounding these shifts hint at a lower level of satisfaction in working mothers’ relationships both within and outside work, as well as lower satisfaction with their job in general, when compared to working fathers.

3. Working Mothers Desire Time to Prioritize Reflection & Self-Care
In the midst of juggling personal and professional responsibilities, what could help employed moms achieve a greater sense of work-life balance? Even simple measures might help, working moms tell Barna. Their responses highlight a need for more time for self-prioritization. Here, working mothers and working fathers point to some of the same solutions, with little significant difference in their responses. On a few key points, however, working mothers stand out from their female peers in the workforce, shedding some light on how parenting has impacted their routine.

Working mothers, more than working women without children in the home, tell Barna they could achieve better work-life balance if they “had more quiet time to regain perspective” (30% vs. 19%) They are also more likely than all other women to say better work-life balance could be achieved if they had “more opportunities to exercise” (30% vs. 18% working women without children in the home, 15% all other women).

Amid a season of transition, overwhelm and a struggle to balance personal and professional responsibilities, working mothers could benefit from the support of their community, including local church congregations. Yet pastors and congregants may not know how to best rally around working mothers in this time—or even be aware that they need to. Indeed, one in five Christian working moms (22% vs. 11% of working dads) says they are not attending church right now.

Need inspiration for re-engaging or serving the working mothers in your congregation? This collection of perspectives from working moms at Barna Group highlights some of the ways local churches can acknowledge and share the load working moms carry.

Related content:

  • Watch a recent Barna Minute episode on Barna Access Plus to discover working moms’ current satisfaction with their work-life balance.
  • Read a blog by Heather Thompson Day on how local churches can be the communities mothers need year-round.
  • Explore a past Barna release on the impact of mothers in children’s faith formation.

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About the Research

About the Research
January 2022 Omnipoll data: Barna Group conducted this online survey among 1,526 U.S. adults from January 24­–28, 2022. The sample error for this study is ±2.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

© Barna Group, 2022.

About Barna

Since 1984, Barna Group has conducted more than two million interviews over the course of thousands of studies and has become a go-to source for insights about faith, culture, leadership, vocation and generations. Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization.

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