mother’s missionThere are those expectations about motherhood that don’t quite come true once the time comes. Sometimes you are completely amazed at what is happening to you as a person, to your body, or to your environment. You read in this column every week what no one has told you about being a mother, but what you would have liked to know. This time: the baby is fine and other professional issues.
If you have one or more children as a woman, it will affect your work life. Maternity leave, work stoppages, working less, pumping at work, regularly having to pick up sick kids from daycare, lower quality performance due to chronic sleep deprivation: these are just a few of the potential consequences of motherhood on your work.
But there is more. “In the Netherlands, mothers bear so-called child fines, unlike in other European countries,” says Anna Okello, director of research and policy from Atria, the Institute for Knowledge of Emancipation and Women’s History.
Your child needs to eat, even when you go back to work. Fortunately, the law can help. Nou’s parents List all of your rights if you wish to pump or breastfeed during working hours.
Income loss of up to 46 percent
Child fine is a commonly used term for the loss of income that women experience when they become mothers. Okello: “Research from the Child Protection Council shows that the loss in income for mothers can be as high as 46 percent, seven years after the birth of the first child, while no effect on fathers’ income has been found for fathers.” The Netherlands often work less often, stop working altogether in the first few years, are out of competition for a while due to leave or are often on standby with sick children.
The stereotype of the caring woman and the working man is very persistent
Care of women and working men
Okello knows another reason why a child is fined mothers is Dutch culture. “Research shows that social norms and opinions about the division of labour/care between fathers and mothers also appear to play an important role in lower maternal income,” she says. The fact that as a mother you stop working or at least work less is still the dominant culture in the Netherlands when it comes to motherhood. “The stereotype of a caring woman and a working man is very persistent. So, you don’t exist with a policy that makes childcare more accessible and affordable,” says Okello.
For example, how does pumping at work affect your assessment and career prospects? And that you have to take time off for a sick child? You can’t get a negative rating because of these kinds of factors, and you can’t get fired at all. If you are fired, you can challenge this. On the employer’s side, it’s also important to see things in perspective, because: What are the few months in the course of an entire career? “
Okello advises taking advantage of the hard-earned rights that already exist. You can breastfeed or pump your baby during work hours for the first nine months. This can take up to a quarter of your work time per shift. There are also many maternity and parental leave options that you can take advantage of,” explains Okello. “Again: these are rights, so you stand firm.”
During the lockdowns, research by Atria has shown a shift in the work and family balance between parents. “Almost all parents have started to care and educate more during the lockdowns. Sometimes this was because work was reduced or stopped, sometimes because working from home made it possible to combine paid work more flexibly with care and upbringing,” says Anna Okello.
However, in addition to their work and childcare, mothers remained primarily responsible for the third period: planning for family life and household chores. Parents in the study hope that the increased involvement of parents with children will continue as COVID-19 moves into the background.
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