71% of parents are ‘constantly’ thinking about childcare gaps, survey finds

Parental burnout is real, and there are lots of factors that can contribute to it, from carrying the mental load to learning how to regulate your own emotions while teaching your kids to regulate theirs. But perhaps one of the largest contributors is access to child care.

Data from KinderCare Learning Companies’ fifth annual Parent Confidence Index revealed that lack of child care is a significant source of stress for parents. Out of the 2,000 U.S. parents surveyed in partnership with The Harris Poll, 71% admitted they’re constantly thinking about child care gaps, which is a 7% increase from 2023, and 50% said piecing together enough child care coverage causes a substantial amount of stress.

“It’s a constant stress,” Elia U. tells Motherly about how childcare access affects her mental health. The mother of two recently had to decrease her work to part-time because her family couldn’t find childcare that made sense financially. “I dream of it being easy to find affordable, flexible, supportive, clean, loving care for [my children]. I think it’s good for them to be around other kids and I want that social interaction for them.”

While Elia felt the need to lessen her workload, many moms have left the workforce completely because of childcare access. “I had to leave academia to be the stay at home parent. My field didn’t offer great benefits or pay when compared to my husband’s and my job would likely not cover the full cost of childcare,” Kyla O., who’s a SAHM of two, explains to Motherly. “Being the stay at home parent was never in my plan and I’ve had to adapt. I love being with my kids and getting to see them grow but of course it’s hard leaving the workforce when I worked so hard to meet my own professional goals.”

This sentiment is mirrored in Motherly’s 2024 State of Motherhood survey, which found that half of non-working moms believe affordable childcare is mandatory for returning to or entering the workforce. Amongst working moms, two-thirds (66%) noted that the stress and cost of childcare has made them consider leaving the workforce, which was up 14% from 2023.

In addition to affordability, parents want to feel confident in the people who care for their children during the day. Eighty-eight percent of KinderCare’s respondents said consistent, high-quality child care would improve their mental health.

“When considering how we can reduce parental burnout, an area often overlooked is access to quality child care, which can greatly reduce stress and create peace of mind for parents,” Dr. Marquita Davis, Chief Academic Officer at KinderCare Learning Companies, tells Motherly. “Our Parent Confidence Index reveals the impact this can have on parents’ mental health, and we take great pride in being able to support caregivers through our high-quality education offerings for both employers and families alike.”

Child care costs continue to rise in the U.S., and now more than ever, parents are looking for employers who offer caregiving benefits. Sixty-one percent of KinderCare’s respondents said they want their employer to implement flexible start and end times, and 64% believe their employer should offset the cost of child care.

“[Employers need to] realize that helping their employees will help the bottom line,” says Lex B., who felt forced to leave her career in education after her son was born because of childcare costs. “There’s a huge disconnect between happy workers and positive outcomes and I just don’t know when this all got lost in translation, but it’s super disappointing.”

Whether it’s affordability or accessibility, something’s got to give. We are currently in a childcare crisis, and parents’ mental health is one of the casualties. “I deeply wish I could have a day every other week, where my husband and I could count on to regroup,” Kyla O. laments. “Right now, both of us are struggling with adapting to having two kids and overcoming the lack of connection. Our mental health deeply suffers because of this, which takes a part in the type of mom I am and how I approach my marriage and my friendships.”

If you’re a parent feeling the weight of child care accessibility on your mental health, know that you’re not alone. As with everything in parenting, this is a season (albeit a hard one), and it will eventually pass. ​​”I know it’s not permanent,” Kamelia W., a SAHM of two, says about how child care access affects her feelings of burnout. “I’m taking it one day at a time.”

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top