Even in the best of circumstances, life with a newborn is hard. Like, incredibly hard. They don't even do anything! Well, other than cry and eat and blow out diapers all over their clean sheets. But the stress of newborn life is real. For the first six months or so, you can plan on sleeping very little. These babies wake up at all hours of the night to be fed and changed or just rocked back to sleep. You know what that means? No sleep for mama and papa! If you're able to stay home with your baby, you can probably manage a bit better. Nap during the day, keep your workload light to accommodate the baby's schedule and your never-ending exhaustion.
But if you're a working mom, you don't really get that luxury. So many women have to return to work when their babies are still so young, sometimes within 4-6 weeks after giving birth. But the thing is, you're still not getting any sleep. Your baby doesn't know you have to get up for work in the morning! That means that working moms spend a lot of exhausted, sleepless days at work. In fact, according to a new survey, they spend the equivalent of 105 days at their jobs working on little-to-no sleep. We really, really need better maternity leave in this country.
The survey was conducted by Indeed.com, and results show that working moms spend an average of 15 weeks working before their babies start sleeping through the night. That's 105 days of waking up every hour or two, spending hours feeding and rocking every night, or waking up at 2 a.m. and not getting back to sleep before the day starts. Four months of being sleep deprived and expected to come to work and perform on the same level as their colleagues. The survey found that 73% of moms say that being tired at work is a major problem.
Clearly, maternity leave in this country needs to be better. 60% of moms are eligible to take 12 weeks of job-protected (but unpaid) leave. But we're the only developed country in the world that doesn't offer some kind of mandated paid parental leave. Aside from laws needing to change, employers can do more to help support women who're returning to work. 84% of first-time moms who completed the survey said that more flexibility in their work schedule would be incredibly helpful. Knowing that you have some support at work can make going back to work so much easier (and more enjoyable!). It's a multi-faceted problem, and employers need to look at ways they can be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem.