“The thing that's tough on moms is the mental labor” - Audrey Goodson Kingo
In this episode host Portia Mount sits down with Audrey Goodson Kingo, journalist and former editor in chief of workingmother.com. As a working mother herself, Audrey has been writing for years about the challenges for working mothers, whether it is childcare, family leave or other policies that impact our lives. Now, nearly a year and a half into the pandemic, we talk about what's ahead for working mothers as we emerge into our new normal. Trends and issues she's keeping an eye on and an exciting new project she is launching through workingmother.com. The future is female, let’s get started.
Have a question or comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workingmother.com research papers
Picniic family organizer
Cozi family organizer
Burbio's school opening tracker
Audrey Goodson Kingo on Twitter
Working Mother Ultimate Guide to Working from Home
Fair Play, a book by Eve Rodsky
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Transcript Audrey Goodson Kingo
Portia Mount 0:13
Audrey Goodson Kingo welcome to the pod. We have so much to talk about. First of all, Audrey, I would love for you to talk about your role as editor in chief for workingmother.com. What are the issues that you're most interested in right now?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 0:42
Right. Well, obviously, our work has never really felt more timely, or more relevant. And yet, it's never been so difficult for us to get it done. Personally. We're a staff of working moms. So last year during the shutdown, just like everyone probably listening right now, we were struggling to watch our kids and oversee virtual school and trade shifts with our partners. And that whole rodeo we were doing that while trying to do our job. But we knew we had such an important story to tell about what's happening to working moms and how we're being impacted by the pandemic. And not only that, but just to give advice on how to handle it and how to work from home. And we, you know, we've had, you know, thankfully, years and years of experience and content on that. So we buckled down, we tried hard. And I'm proud to say I just have to do a quick plug while I'm at it, that our COVID content resonated so well that we were offered a book deal. So the The Working Mother...
Portia Mount 1:45
Congratulations! We heard it here, I'm so excited.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 1:48
Thank you, yeah, I'm also obligated to say this, but I'm very proud of it. And the Working Mother Ultimate Guide to working from home comes out on May 4. So.
Portia Mount 1:58
So next month?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 2:00
Portia Mount 2:02
Audrey Goodson Kingo 2:03
So we had a crazy year.
Portia Mount 2:08
Well, congratulations. And you know, I have to say I have been a reader of Working Mother for well, since I became a working mother. And so, a long time. And so I know that I was constantly going on to the site to look to see what you are writing about what the writing team was writing about and desperately looking for advice. And because nobody's got it figured out. Right? We like we're all just kind of making it up as we go along. And I'm wondering like, so you've got two young kids, you mentioned the staff are all working mothers like, what has the pandemic been like for you, personally, mom of two, working full time and trying to just do that juggle? What you know, what choices and trade offs were you making for yourself?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 3:02
Yes, that is, I mean, the question, the big question for everyone, right, and we were going through it same as everyone else. And I have to say, first of all, we've been extremely fortunate in my family, no one in my close family has contracted COVID, no one has lost a job. So I just feel like any complaining I may do after this I have to preface it by saying you know, we've been really fortunate compared to what I know a lot of people are suffering and going through right now. But you know, my husband is a type one diabetic. So we were really worried about his health in the beginning. On the other hand, we live in a small New York City apartment. And so...
Portia Mount 3:40
God bless you. Lockdown must have been really interesting.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 3:46
Yes. And my husband and I, like my husband is, I love him, I love him to death, but multitasking is not his top skill. So the handing, the handing back and forth of the kids was just putting a real strain on our relationship, on our, I think the stress was probably rubbing off on our kids. So you know we had to have a real reckoning in the beginning about our kids having to go back to childcare. And that was you know, a risk. We just felt like even given his type one diabetes, we just had to take in that moment because we were melting down.
Portia Mount 4:22
Thank you for saying that Audrey. Because you know a year and some change into the pandemic we've all kind of gotten real with what's happened to us as women but I just remember having so many conversations like with my friends like you guys, I'm barely keeping it together here. Because my husband is a, he's a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist so during lock lockdown he was still going to the office, going to see patients and I was at home with our two kids, one of whom was a preschooler and who basically went feral for about four months, because I had to, because I had to focus on our son who at the time was in fourth grade now fifth grade. It's like he has real school and her school is not really real. So I got to focus on the real school. But meantime, like, you know, she's running around I mean. It's just like, it pushed me to the edge of sanity, which I was surprised by. I was surprised at how fragile my own sort of hold on reality got.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 5:27
Right. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, and I think that's whatever, you know, everyone says about the pandemic, and just exposes every weakness, you know, everywhere. Every weakness that existed that was just pushed, pushed really hard. And I think for me and my husband, we strive really hard to, you know, balance everything and create an equitable split of labor. And that was just not possible. It was just clearly falling on me. And so, you know, he even knew that. So that's when we were just like childcare. We've got to bring it back.
Portia Mount 5:57
So that was your kind of referencing all the unpaid labor discussion that we've been having.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 6:07
Portia Mount 6:07
It's always been there, right. We've always known it's there. But the pandemic brought that to the relief. So you and your husband decided, one of the ways we solve this is, is, is putting the kids back in daycare? And a good choice overall?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 6:24
Yes. Oh, gosh, the best choice. I love my daughter's daycare provider. I would walk over hot coals for them. The staff, they love the kids. They've been very careful. My daughter is absolutely happy there. It was 1,000% the best decision that we made, and I don't regret it for a second.
Portia Mount 6:46
Yeah. And I remember following the news around school openings and closures in New York. And you know, and you've got, you've got groups of very strong parent associations. And it's just it was an emotionally fraught issue, isn't it, just about school reopening and, and the impact on the kids the impact on parents and I'm curious if you are in the process of thinking about your own children, but also just kind of the broader societal impact, if, if you have a different perspective on the role of care? Right? Just thinking about you know. Do you have a different perspective on what care means now that we've come through on, well, we're coming through the other side of this pandemic?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 7:39
Right, I mean, I think, you know, we've all seen, I mean, I guess, the silver lining of the pandemic, as it has exposed just how important care is in so many very different ways in our lives, and how much we depend on so many people performing that care for us. And speaking of the schools, I think that I mean, we can't deny that that is a critical source of, you know, call it, whatever you will, it's a critical source of keeping parents in the workforce and, and we're really seeing that now, I think in the data, and you’re probably referring to some of my Twitter rants on this subject lately that, you know, it's a really fraught issue. And I understand there's so many stakeholders at play, and we definitely need to, there are many considerations beyond just what working parents need. But that's what I can speak to. And knowing, you know, a study, one recent study showed that in states where kids were remote only, that the labor force participation rate between women and men grew by quite a bit, and states that were in person it did. So to me, that really points to and I should say it grew by quite a bit because women left the workforce.
Portia Mount 8:52
Because women, right, in droves. Right, like in droves.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 8:56
Oh, yeah, of course, we know, looking at the data. I mean, for example, you know, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in September alone, 865,000 women left the workforce. And we've made some of that up since then. But not all of it. And so my worry, you know, is how are we going to make that up? How are those women going to get back in the workforce? Will they get back in the workforce at the same rate of pay? Will they get back in the workforce at the same title? And if they don't, what does that mean for women's progress all together, and that's my big worry.
Portia Mount 9:32
Yeah, it feels really, when you lay it out that way, when you think about the lost economic opportunity for women, and it's exactly everything that you say, Audrey in terms of do they go back into the workforce, do they go back at the same level, do they go back at the same pay. Let me just make the other point, which is that companies are performing better than ever, right now. Wall Street has been doing really well until recently, companies have tons of cash, they've been able to strip down their label labor force in some cases and continue to perform. And so that part worries me as well, which is the ever shrinking employee base that gets spread over fewer people, companies are more profitable. So the incentive to act differently may not be there. I worry about that. And I wonder if you're talking to corporate leaders and hearing if they're going to be bringing back people that have been laid off, or is there, is there a trend that you're seeing there or?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 10:43
Yeah, well, you know, I think I definitely think that's a concern. I will say, I think there's a counterbalance to that happening right now, thankfully, and that is, you know, 2020 was a really hard year and more ways than just a pandemic, obviously, we saw the murder of George Floyd, we had a long, you know, overdue, you know, or at least the discussion that was going on became much more prominent, and companies themselves have made pledges that I think they're both their employees and their customers, I think we'll hold them accountable for at least a little bit. So I think companies know that they know how important it is to have a diverse workforce or increasingly important that is. Some of you know, how much of that is genuine and how much you know, they're going to do the work, we'll find out. But I do think, more than ever, they're trying. And we see that in our, in our best companies, you know, a lot of them are doing backup childcare, paid family leave, you know, a lot of options. I think they're really trying to retain as much as they can. A lot of companies. So hopefully that will, you know, other companies will have to keep up with the competition and keep those going. So I hope that's a counterbalance to that. But you're right. I mean, there's also just at the end of the day, if they can make money with fewer employees. We'll see.
Portia Mount 12:11
Well I actually share your optimism, because I work for one of those progressive companies that's been really talking about, how do we make sure women stay in the company? How do we attract more diversity in terms of ethnic diversity, more women into the company? And so I agree, I think and I think it's really important that some of those large companies, whether it's American Express or Unilever, you know, those kinds of known companies, well known brands that step out there. And I think because it creates followership, I want to just step back, though, for a second, because we've kind of laid out some big issues around women in the pandemic, and, and ask, you know, whether it's childcare, whether it's schooling, I wonder if you if you had to force rank, some of the like, from your perspective, again, because you're looking at so much data, and you're talking to leaders across all these different industries, if you had to force rank, what some of the key challenges are going to be for women over the next, let's say, couple of three years? What is your perspective there, Audrey?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 13:20
Yeah, it's I mean, it's really hard to pick any one issue. There are so many.
Portia Mount 13:28
So many to choose from.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 13:29
I know. And it's kind of the aggregate of them all right, that's really concerning. But you know, I'm trying to think of, you know, some, you know, the number of women that were laid off, particularly Black and Latina women, and how can we build a recovery that includes them? The number of moms who dropped out of the workforce to deal with virtual school or childcare. And how can we bring them back in again, at that, you know, at the same rate, and pay and salary and the number of moms who scaled back in small ways. I just wrote a piece about that, you know, we know a lot of our own survey data found that 1/3 of moms have done things like declined a promotion and shifted to part time or taken a sabbatical. And these small sacrifices stack up too because when it's promotion time, maybe they say, hey, you've you weren't as productive as you know, this person over here. So the small ways moms have scaled back worry me too. I worry about the childcare sector, you know, which has struggled, always struggled. As we all know, childcare is incredibly expensive. I think care costs more than college tuition. In many states.
Portia Mount 14:39
I want to do a whole episode just on childcare because, you know, I feel privileged, I can afford childcare. And we have had the same nanny for my kids for the last 10 years. And so, there are other things we don't spend money on, but I'm fortunate I recognize I'm fortunate there, but It is insane Audrey, how much, I mean, there is no such thing as affordable childcare. And I don't, I don't understand if there's a way forward on this?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 15:11
It's so broken. And then on the other hand, you look at childcare workers who are some of the lowest paid and have lower benefits. Of any industry.
Portia Mount 15:19
Exactly. And we're and we are counting on them to love our children and take care of our children as much as we do. Right.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 15:26
Portia Mount 15:27
And it's primarily women of color, too.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 15:33
Right. Yeah. And that. And that burden of care during the pandemic just got even greater, right. I mean, so it's and at child care centers, the stressors got a lot higher because enrollment dropped, or they had to purposefully lower their enrollment to keep it safe. They had to pay for PPE and cleaning. And so thankfully, they just got a big infusion of cash in the American rescue plan. So hopefully, that will shore up childcare centers a little bit. But then we still have this big open question of schools.
Portia Mount 16:05
Schools. Yeah. It’s kind of all over the map, ryou and I were talking, you know, in the lead up to the show that, you know, you're in New York, my sister's in LA, she and her husband are both teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District, their daughter, who's eight years old, just went back to school. This, what are we, the third week of April? So she's been virtual since last March, which is so mind boggling to me. And they've been, you know, they've been remote, you know, because they're teachers. They've been remote as well and there are still really furious debates over sending kids back to school. So I'm curious again, what are you hearing from educators from policymakers? Are we, are we landing on some kind of middle ground around schools? Is there some kind of, the science is starting to coalesce around a perspective for kids, right? But the policy doesn't seem to be catching up to that. So what's the perspective there?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 17:15
I wish I had some hope. I've been working on a story that slightly touches on this, it's about how a lot of companies are now calling workers back to the workforce and how that poses such a problem for the moms who are still in these areas where school is not open. Or the other thing is, so I was talking to a site that tracks school reopening Burbio. And so as of right now, 62% of students are in traditional, what they call traditional school. But traditional school for them means at least four days a week, so not even five days a week.
Portia Mount 17:53
Audrey Goodson Kingo 17:54
And it can also mean fewer hours, like Personally, my son goes to school half an hour shorter everyday than he used to.
Portia Mount 18:00
Oh so he's getting like, I don't know, I can't do the math in my head, but so many hours less of school per year as a result of that.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 18:07
Right. So he's, yeah, exactly. And in our case, there's no longer after school, which used to be available at our school. So we pay out of pocket for a sitter, but all of this, I'm bringing my personal into it, because I think it illustrates that when we say school is open in some areas, it's not necessarily open in a way that is helpful for working parents. And you know, the school calendar has never really aligned well with the needs of working parents.
Portia Mount 18:36
Audrey Goodson Kingo 18:37
The whole summer that you got to fill.
Portia Mount 18:39
Yeah. Which is the worst idea ever, right? Like, where is year round school when you need it?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 18:45
Right. Right. So I mean, it was. So it's always been a challenge. But right now, it's especially a challenge because even in the places where school is open, there's still these little ways that little strange ways. It's not really the most helpful situation for a lot of working parents. And I think that's why a lot of parents still have kids in remote. Even just willingly because it's a lot, you know, you got to figure out, you know, if it's a hybrid schedule, or part time, do you take them Tuesday, Wednesday, you know, it's so I think, the school picture, I think, I really hope it's figured out by the fall and in a way that is really supportive of working parents, because that's really worrying me about getting parents back in the workforce.
Portia Mount 19:29
Me too, Audrey, you know, I've been following the financial sector. You know, I think Jamie Diamond just came out and said, Hey, we expect everyone to be fully back into the office by, I'm gonna get the date wrong, but like October 1. And, you know, the head of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, they've, you know, they've all sort of famously come out and said, We are a face to face business, we will always be face to face first. And I sort of have two thoughts about that one is exactly what you've talked about, which is well, that's great. But there's going to be like, not everyone's going to have a place to send their kids to school. And so that's going to impact. And then the other thought I had is, especially with, you know, younger parents, millennial parents, how many of them are just going to say, You know what? I'm not doing that. Like this and I think even I want to say I read an article, and I don't remember if you wrote it, but it was certainly in your in Working Mother, where it was a dad who said, that's just not what I'm going to do. Like, this pandemic has taught me what's important. And I don't need to commute 10 hours a week, 15 hours a week. And, I can be productive. So I'm wondering, I'm wondering if that figures into the mix at all, which is employee talent, voting with their feet, and basically saying, you can do what you want. We're not coming back.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 20:57
Yeah, you're right. There have been a bunch of studies coming out recently, where I think a lot of workers have been saying exactly that. Like, I'm not, I'm not going back full time. But I would be you know, I mean, maybe you know, the financial industry might be a little different. But I would be surprised if all companies had some mandatory, you know, we're all back in the office in that step. I think I do think one one silver lining. And one thing we are hearing from a lot of our companies is even some of the folks that were skeptical of, you know, can we work from home? Are people really working? We've seen it, we did it.
Portia Mount 21:36
Exactly. We are doing, not only did we do it, we are still doing it for the most part.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 21:41
And we did it under enormous pressure like juggling kids and all these things and learning to set up a home office, which we've never done before. And now, we have it pretty well set up. And I think, I think a lot of companies and we've seen it in you know, Google, Facebook, Microsoft have already announced, you know, that they're letting their employees, you know, or at least a certain portion of their workforce do remote if they like.
Portia Mount 22:05
I did see that, yeah.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 22:05
Yeah, so I do think maybe you won't see companies offering a full remote option, but I would be very surprised if they weren't like, you know, there gonna be days when you need to work from home and you do that.
Portia Mount 22:17
Yeah, I think that's, I think that's an interesting perspective, Audrey, because I think about, you know, again, you sort of personalize things. I think about my own team, most of my team was remote anyway, before the pandemic, meaning we were geographically remote. A few had home offices that they would go to, and we've had that conversation and we actually have a whole initiative within our company around the future of work and remote, how remote or hybrid you can be or full time depends on your job code. And then it depends on the manager, right? And so I could envision, you know, going in a couple of days a week, and then sometimes maybe a little bit more around a project where you need face to face, right? Because there's certain kinds of work where I feel like, Oh, I really wish I could just take three days with the team and we can bang this out versus trying to do, you know, 27 hours of zoom, which has been soul destroying for me personally. If I never see another zoom at the end of this pandemic, it will not be too soon. I just have nothing to you know, nothing against the zoom, you know, team zoom out there, but they have saved our bacon and MS teams, but it has been like, Oh my god, it's like the zoom is like the new PowerPoint.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 23:46
Yeah, and I just think we all miss that a little, you know, so I always felt like some of my best ideas. Were just like, strolling by somebody's office and chit chatting saying, Hey, we should, you know, look into that.
Portia Mount 23:57
Audrey Goodson Kingo 23:58
Yeah, yeah. So I personally, you know, I would welcome going back, you know, two or three days a week. I feel like there might be a lot of people in that boat but so I hope the last thing we took from this was just flexibility. I am a little nervous about a fully remote world for women. If companies impose remote rather than giving options to their employees, because women, particularly moms are the only ones taking the remote option. And people without kids aren't I do worry that that might leave mom's behind a little bit, or at least leaves moms out of the office culture in a way that we know is really important for climbing the career ladder so there's you know, I don't know if it's a super silver bullet, but I you know, if it's done right, I feel like it could be could be good for moms.
Portia Mount 24:53
Yeah, I hope so Audrey, and I really hope that and again, I'm very reliant on sort of our newer talent earlier career talent, who I think just have a more progressive way of thinking about how work gets done, right, because I think the old school model really, and it's really been driven by a very specific generation, in specific sectors of like the old school model is you come to the office, you stay nine to five, and I know that you're working and in exchange, you get paid right? And I think it's exactly right, that we have figured out, actually, that that's not really the case, you know, that's not needed anymore. And so I guess that makes me think a little bit about you know, so we're talking about the future of work. And, and that's a good development right out of the pandemic, like if I think about, some of the good things that came out, one is, we've discovered that we don't have to be in the office. I wonder if you can talk about sort of back on the homefront a bit. We touched on it, but I want to pull the thread a little bit around unpaid labor. And why this is such a big deal? Like, why are we talking about like, why are we talking about this so much? And are we making too big of a deal out of it? I don't think we are, but I will tell you, I've had conversations, where I've had, you know, friends and colleagues saying like, why are you making such a like, just ask your partner to? Well, if he won't do it, just go hire somebody. And I'm like, Guys, it's kind of deeper than that. So I wonder if you would just talk a little bit about unpaid labor? Why should we care about it and sort of where we are right now?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 26:36
Right. Well, why we should care about it is because just like you said, it's falling on women. And we know from decades of research that, you know, not only does the physical labor, the childcare and the cleaning, and the cooking and all the things that run a home, not only is that more likely to fall on women, even when they're the breadwinner, I should say. It's tough, but what I think is increasingly harder for people particularly you know, if you can afford to say, outsource the cleaning, which I am, I do and I 1000%...
Portia Mount 27:13
... 1000 as well.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 27:14
Yes, I'm 1,000% a fan of and I always, studies have shown that even for couples whose budgets are tight, the best use of your money for reducing stress in a relationship is outsourcing.
Portia Mount 27:27
Amen. Amen, so all the listeners out there for those of you who say or like you have a partner who's like, No way can we afford it. You've heard it from the source here, we will put this and we will link to that we will link to the study. So you can send it if you need to.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 27:44
Yes, yes. Yes. I mean, just think of it as like, it's two nights out, eating out or whatever, you know, like, do it.
Portia Mount 27:52
It's just a quality of life issue, isn't it really? I mean, that's really what it comes down to. It's a quality of life. Do you want to scrub toilets? Or do you want to spend time with the, you know, on the things that matter?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 28:02
Right, right, precisely. So. So I'm a big fan of outsourcing that actual physical labor, but the thing that's tough on moms is the mental labor, right? For the CEO of our families, right? No matter how much money you make, or if you're the breadwinner that is falling in your lap, you are the one that school calls, you are the one making the doctor's appointment.
Portia Mount 28:25
Audrey you better preach, you better preach.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 28:31
So I have something called the shoe test. I ask dads if they know their kids shoe size. Many do not you know moms always know their kids shoe size dads, you would be surprised or perhaps not.
Portia Mount 28:44
And by the way, I'm gonna to do this test on my husband tonight.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 28:52
Because I just think it reveals who is keeping tabs on everything, you know, at any given moment in the family, and that is usually the mom. And that's a big job. And so when the pandemic happened, that was the bulk of the work right, you know, knowing all the zoom passwords, knowing what time the classes start, that all fell on mom.
Portia Mount 29:14
Yeah, that was my life.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 29:17
Yeah, so the good news is, though I do have good news is that studies also showed that households became more equitable when it came to that physical labor. So dads have been picking and more with cleaning and with hands on childcare. So there's reason to hope those trends will continue post pandemic. But I think it's that mental load that we really got to figure out.
Portia Mount 29:39
I'm so glad that you said that. And there was a New York Times article that ran you know, we're sitting here in late April it ran here earlier this week, and I will link to it but absolutely that mental load and I have to say I personally don't have it figured out and I love the shoe test and I'm reminded of that, I don't know if you remember this movie, Sarah Jessica Parker was in it. It was based on a book called, I don't know how she does it. And I think it starts out or it's an early scene in the movie where she's lying in bed, and she's got, she's going through her mental list of all the things that need to get done. And I was like, Oh, my God, that is me. I have a constant running mental list of all the things that need to happen. And, and it just, you know,
it doesn't just happen. It's because you mom are, you're reordering the prescriptions, you're the one who realizes that like your kids pants are all of a sudden three inches too short, and you're signing up for summer camp, and you're scheduling doctor's appointments, and the school calls you and so I think this resonates so much. I'm curious, if you've looked into, there are a number of companies springing up that are trying to tackle this morass of, sort of ankle biting activities. Like they're just out there these ankle biting activities that are really important. But don't get done without a parent.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 31:28
Yeah, it's tough, right? So there are a lot of apps coming out now that are family organization apps, Cozi and Picniic, and probably some others I'm forgetting. So my husband and I have a pretty extensive Google calendaring system we use.
Portia Mount 31:45
Oh, do you want to share anything you want to like any great hacks you want to share?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 31:51
I wish I had a great hack? You know, we are kind of trying to figure it out just like everyone else. And I mean, to be honest, I just, it's really tough. You know, and I know probably you're familiar with Eve Rodsky's Book Fair Play?
Portia Mount 32:08
I am, I am.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 32:09
Yeah. So I got the card game. We haven't tried it yet. Because we have to, I have to schedule time.
Portia Mount 32:24
I love her. I love her book. And it's like, it's another one of those like, it's like the timing couldn't be more perfect. But yeah, so it'll be fun to talk to listen to what listeners are doing around the unpaid labor, and especially this mental load piece. Like, I just don't know that I haven't heard of anyone getting it figured out.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 32:49
I mean, I will say I'm a big fan of dropping what you can. I mean, obviously, you can't drop...
Portia Mount 32:53
We haven't talked about that have we?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 32:55
You can't drop doctor's appointments, and probably summer camp’s important. But I'm a big fan of dropping anything that is performative and like not, it doesn't make you happy, drop it.
Portia Mount 33:08
Amen. Audrey, I used to do a photoshoot every year for the holiday card. And I literally was like, and actually, I don't think I've done it for two years now. Because it's just too much work. So I actually think that's the ultimate hack that you've just shared, which is, just drops and stuff like, just don't do it.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 33:37
Portia Mount 33:40
So I want to talk about what you're hopeful for. So you know, we've kind of unpacked a lot of different challenges, childcare, women returning to the workforce, you know, in big enough numbers. We've talked about schooling. Are there things that you're hopeful for, as you think about the changes that this pandemic has brought to us? You know, what, you know, from your perspective, big lessons, and what gives you hope?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 34:20
Yeah, so I think, I think what gives me hope is, there's always been three main players that working moms needed help from, and that was their partners, and that was their employers, and that is the government. If you ask me, like, these are the three places we could get the most help. And I do think from all three, there's reason for hope. Like I said, Dad, you know, studies have shown that dads did pick up a little more of, you know, of course, I should back up and say the reason I focus so much on heterosexual couples is because that is where the domestic labor divide is so sharp.
Portia Mount 34:55
That's actually a really, really good point because we're sort of talking as if there aren't you know, two moms or two dads are right. Is that qualitatively different?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 35:08
Yeah, it is. It's fascinating. Yeah it is.
Portia Mount 35:11
Oh let's just talk a little bit about that for a second.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 35:13
There's still some labor division among LGBTQ couples, there's still some issues. But yeah, it's not as sharp as obviously between a traditional, you know, heterosexual married partner, couples.
Portia Mount 35:24
Is it just because of gender norms around and expectations of gender norms between men and women?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 35:36
Oh, yeah. I mean, all of this is built on 1000s of years of history about the roles that we have all performed. Right. And so I just wanted to back up and say that because I...
Portia Mount 35:48
Audrey Goodson Kingo 35:49
There's a reason I keep talking about men and women.
Portia Mount 35:51
That's really important.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 35:52
Keep calling dads out, but yeah, yeah. And so. So there's hope on all three fronts, dads are doing a little bit more of the childcare and a little bit more of the housework at home. And a lot of times when you fall into a pattern like that, it sticks. So here's hoping that sticks. Employers, like we said, you know, particularly you know some of the ones you named American Express, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, trying to think of some of the ones we've covered have stepped up with very generous paid family leave and backup childcare, Bank of America was offering $100 a day to its employees for backup childcare, that's throughout the pandemic. So I think we're seeing companies recognize the importance of supporting caregiving employees more than ever, and government, the last area where, you know, clearly we're everyone says childcare is infrastructure now, which it is.
Portia Mount 36:49
Isn't that wild? Could you ever imagine that we would be talking about child care as infrastructure?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 36:59
I don't think it would have happened without the pandemic, I really think it took the pandemic to make it clear to, I think, especially to like economists, and, you know, bait men, essentially, to take the men who, what's the Hamilton song go, the room where it happens, the people who are in the room where it happens. It became very clear to them when all of a sudden their employees couldn't work because they had childcare issues, how important this is. And so, you know, I think that does give us some momentum to hopefully make some big changes when it comes to, you know, perhaps passing paid family leave on the federal level and making childcare more affordable for families. So I'm hopeful that the silver lining is that, you know, there will be some positive changes that really help working moms as a result of this.
Portia Mount 37:52
I'm curious on the, just to maybe pull on the policy thread a little bit, are we, you know, we've, we've been living through pretty much like a severely divided government, right, like, we've always had divided government, but we have everything divided. Maybe it's just polarized, maybe that's the better word. We've had a polarized government for, you know, the better part of almost, what, 12 years or so. And I'm wondering if you feel, you know, based on who you're talking to, do you feel that there's a path forward on some of these family related issues like care? I'm not even gonna mention, like, the livable minimum wage to $15? Because that seems like it's probably DOA right now. But are you seeing pathways forward where, you know, members of both political parties could agree on how we can better support families?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 38:53
Yeah, I mean, that's the, that's the question. Right, can it, can it survive the Senate is the question for everything. I don't know. But I am hopeful that something could happen, because you'll see, even Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio talking about childcare tax credits. I think even republicans really recognize that it is incredibly expensive to raise children. It is incredibly expensive to pay for childcare. And we see it and I think that's part of the reason we see declining birth rates, and I kind of feel like they're kind of figuring out like, hey, all this stuff is connected. And if we want our economy to keep chugging along and we want to keep growing as a country, maybe we should make it easier on parents. I feel like that message is, you know, finally sinking in with a lot of different people.
Portia Mount 39:45
It does seem like it's getting some, it does seem like it's getting some stickiness with some of them. I don't want to reference any of the newer members of Congress, right? Like as I look off to the side and roll my eyes, but I think you're right, I think some of these more senior members of the Senate like the ones you've mentioned, seem to be talking about that. Right. So hopefully they can be influenced. And they can influence their colleagues.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 40:12
Yeah. So how generous something might be. But you know, even just the recently passed, you know, the American rescue plan included a lot of help for working families. So I mean, there was a lot in there. So I mean, that should give us optimism. So.
Portia Mount 40:28
Yeah, we'll keep our fingers, we'll keep our fingers crossed. Because it's been. I mean, it impacts us all. So, 2021 is shaping up to be a pretty transitional year. I don't know about you, I didn't think 2021 was going to be normal. But I didn't think it was going to be quite this. It's just been a little bit of a weird year. And so I'm wondering, though as a journalist, what stories are in that you've got a book coming, you know, down the pipe. And actually, I want to talk a little bit about that in more detail. You got a book coming down the pipe. What else are you working on, other stories and topics that you're interested in?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 41:08
Yeah, I mean, mostly, it's just going to be looking at how working moms are recovering. You know, are we recovering? And then also, I think critically, is it an equal recovery? And I hope, I think, again, I think that's a conversation that, you know, every, you know, media organizations and big companies, like everyone started having in 2020, you know, arguably a conversation we should have been having all along. But we're finally really reckoning with it. And I hope. So I want to take, you know, take a close look at that and see, you know, does the recovery include everyone, because I do think we could be looking at a situation where, you know, well, American Express and Facebook, and those companies offer some great benefits for their moms. And those moms might recover well. But what about the moms working in retail jobs? What about the moms working in hospitality? How are they recovering, and childcare? And as we know, that happens to be a lot of black and brown moms. So how are they recovering? And is that recovery equal? So that's definitely something I plan to take a look at. And other than that, just keep helping working moms as much as we can.
Portia Mount 42:16
Yeah, well, I mean, it has to feel vindicated. It isn't the right word. But if I think about all the topics that we've just talked about over the last 30 minutes. And you've been writing about these topics for a long time, Audrey. I guess it's like one of those things, you can't be a prophet in your own land. But do you go back? Do you go back and look at some of your articles and be like, I was talking about this seven years ago?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 42:38
Oh, my gosh, I can't even tell you, my and sometimes my former colleagues will text me stuff like see who finally got around to covering X or Y. But yeah, it's been a little challenging. I know, you had asked about the challenges. I will say that was so a little bit challenging this year, because I think a lot of journalists struggled with like, we're you can't turn it off right now. And so not only was I personally challenged, you know, working through my own working mom struggles with my kids and my husband and our division of labor, but I was writing about it as well. So it was like, just always present.
Portia Mount 43:27
Always on. Yeah.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 43:29
Yeah. So that's been tough, but it's important work. And I'm glad, I'm glad I hope it's resonating and helping folks. So.
Portia Mount 43:36
It's 100% resonating. And so maybe the best follow up question is, you know, much like you know, maybe somebody who's working in a disaster zone, right? Like you're just and it's all consuming. You've been writing about this and living it and so how are you turning? How are you turning it off? Like are there things that you're doing for yourself? That to help you I have been you know, laughingly joking about how much I hated the word self care until the pen until the pandemic hit. And now I'm all about like, hashtag self care. Like I feel like I've discovered the word and I'm just gonna milk it all the way to you know, to you know, kingdom come. What are you doing around taking care of yourself? Or are you?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 44:24
I wish I were better at this. I'm gonna be 100% honest, that is one that is an area where I do not practice what I preach. But I will say the one piece of advice that really resonated with me I heard from another mom was your self care is your self care. And that really hit me hard because I felt like I was like, I felt you know, everyone was doing like pecan, baking bread or knitting or picking up these like great crafty things. And I was like, I just like to read romance novels every now and then. And watch The Bachelor. Is that okay?
Portia Mount 45:04
I am telling you for me it was like Law and Order reruns like, I don't care if I've seen that episode 50,000,011 times. If I can sit on the sofa with a glass of wine watching a Law and Order rerun, I'm good, like, I'm totally good. So.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 45:24
Exactly, there you go. Your self care.
Portia Mount 45:26
I was telling you. Okay, so you know what, I don't feel so bad. And Instagram has been, we could do a whole other conversation about stuff I bought on Instagram that I don't need. But you know, but because I'm so vulnerable right now. But, yeah, a glass of wine on the sofa with Law and Order is good for me. I'd love to just, you know, maybe wrap up talking a little bit about some details about the book. And we know it's coming out May 4. So that's pretty exciting. What's in the book? What's the, what's the big? What are some of the big topics you're covering?
Audrey Goodson Kingo 46:06
Yeah, so it's, it's a compilation of all of our best work on working from home that's been featured on Working Mothers over the years, particularly during COVID. So tips for managing your mental health, you know, creating an organized home office, working from home with a baby, pretty much, you know, helping your kids with virtual learning and pretty much everything you can think of. That will help you get it all done. So.
Portia Mount 46:34
That's awesome. Well, I will look forward to that. I have been, I have to say, I have been on a book buying spree since the beginning of the pandemic, I love books. But I have to say, I own too many of them, Audrey, but I will be happily adding your book to my list. And we will definitely make sure that we link to it. Audrey Goodson Kingo so lovely to talk to you today and look forward to continuing to watch you break open the news about what working mothers are experiencing. Thank you for representing us and putting your voice out there. And we will make sure that we link to both workingmother.com and your Twitter feed which is so full of, Yes, I love your rants but and I would say because they're always from a place of advocating for for working mothers and so I just have to take this little time to give you a shout out because we need women out there who are putting out there what's going on for, for working mothers. So thank you for doing that for us.
Audrey Goodson Kingo 47:53
Thank you. Thank you so much Portia. Thank you for following and, and letting me speak on behalf of working moms and joining you here today. And I'm so glad that we now get to be friends in real life.