I have no doubt that the new year will bring about lots of articles on various new must-have fashion trends, parenting gadgets, self-help tips and more, and I’m sure much of that will be useful. But it’s not what I want to see, especially for moms. Instead, I want to see some real changes for parents in this country. Here are my top five must-haves for moms in 2015.
1. Mandated, paid maternity leave. The U.S. stresses the value of family so much but then fails to provide something as important as paid family leave. It’s frankly embarrassing that out of 185 countries, we are 1 of only 3 that doesn’t offer mandated, paid maternity leave (Oman and Papua New Guinea are the other two). So many issues related to the struggles families face can at least be alleviated with paid maternity leave (and dare I say it, paid paternity leave as well).
2. Paid sick leave. This is something I’ve worked on here in my state of Massachusetts, and we recently became only the third state in the country to require statewide sick leave. For many working parents, taking a sick day can cost them their job, requiring them to choose between a paycheck and their health — or the health of their child. Research actually shows economic benefits to providing sick leave for employees, and yet still so many parents (and let’s be honest, when it comes to staying home with sick kids, it’s usually moms) are faced with figuring out how to balance work and home responsibilities with little to no support.
3. A drop in maternal mortality and a rise in health care access. The U.S. is one of a very small handful of countries where the maternal mortality rate is going up. A lot of it relates to health care access and the quality of care received. A mom must-have this year is access to top-notch health care and resources, regardless of cost and ability to pay. Unfortunately I’m just not so sure that will be a reality in this country this year (or anytime in the near future).
4. A détente to the “Mommy Wars.” I absolutely loathe the concept of the Mommy Wars. It’s a media-fueled, wholly manufactured concept that preys on the idea of “catfights” and infighting among women. It sucks. And more important, it distracts us from the important issues (see above) that actually impact us as women and mothers. Can we make a pact to not buy into or feed the flames of these so-called wars? I know they’re good for page views, ratings and trolls, but they are absolutely not good for actual moms.
5. Time to ourselves. This one isn’t policy related, and we can’t write our representatives or rally for change to get it, but it’s just as important. Moms deal with a lot, and sometimes we forget about (or shrug off as unnecessary) taking care of ourselves. So fuel your own fire, give yourself a (positive!) timeout, and recharge so you can have the energy and focus to face whatever 2015 has in store for you.