This is the 5th insights digest of Segmanta’s Moms in Asia 2020 study. We conducted research in 9 Asian regions to find out what motherhood means to moms in Asia and how their lives are affected by it.
In the second part of Bittersweet Motherhood in Asia, we focus on how working moms in Asia struggle to balance their time and energies between the office and home, and which identities they wish to express beyond being a mother. Read the first part of Bittersweet Motherhood in Asia here.
Asian mothers are changing their view of having and raising children. According to a study conducted in the U.S., COVID-19 is causing some mothers to rethink decisions about bringing children to the world especially when humankind constantly faces new uncertainties caused by a global pandemic, economic disruption, environmental disasters and more. As many workers being laid-off or furloughed from their jobs due to COVID-19, having children can bring heavy financial burdens during an unstable time period. This is in addition to the steady trend in recent years showing that more and more Asian women are choosing to pursue higher education and to accelerate their careers, postponing motherhood later in life.
Her Multiple Roles Require Extended Support
Expectations Can Weigh Her Down
According to research, a great number of women feel they are the ones mainly carrying the burdens of their children’s physical and mental well-being, some withdrew from the labor force because of marriage or having children. As mentioned in our first part of this article, concern for a child’s wellbeing was elected the No.1 challenge by the majority (48%) of Asian moms in our survey.
Our survey results across Asia show that on average, moms across Asia have a family size of 1 to 2 kids, with families in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines having more children per household on average. Having multiple children certainly is a lot more to handle. When it comes to the age in which women in Asia become first-time moms, our study shows that women in the Philippines are most likely to become first-time moms at the earliest age, with over half, (58%) having their first child between the ages of 19-25. Becoming a mom at a young age, with less life experience and the pressures of establishing a career while caring for a child, can take up a great amount of energy.
As more and more women in Asia delay having children to a later age or even decide not to have kids at all, their education and career aspirations advance, causing the fertility rate to drop. According to our study, Japanese mothers are 1.3X more likely to have their first child after the age of 30 years old, compared to the rest of Asian moms.
Her Career Occupies Her Time and Energy
Amongst the respondents, 46% are employed part-time or full-time, while 49% are stay-at-home moms. 30% of Asian moms mention balancing career and life as a shared obstacle of motherhood. Most of all Asian moms, Singaporean moms (42%) are troubled by the work/life balancing. Stuffed in the middle of the family/career “sandwich” is a major source of mental strain for almost a third of Asian mothers.
As the COVID-19 madness forces many people to work from home, the difficulties of work-life balance can intensify for many moms. Trying to remain professional and focused while working at home, despite being a full-time caretaker is not a piece of cake. Not all employers in Asia provide sufficient flexibility for working from home and mothers may suffer a great deal while struggling to balance both worlds simultaneously.
According to our study which was conducted before the outbreak of COVID-19, 93% of moms in Asia claim their household income is average or lower compared to the national average. A lot of surveyed moms also express concerns about their family’s financial situation, pre-COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, hiring a nanny or sending kids to daycare is now unaffordable for many families, increasing the financial strain of Asian moms we had already observed prior to the pandemic.
Her Non-mother Identities Are Just As Important
As a woman, the Asian mom certainly has many roles to play. She is a loving partner, a devoted professional, a household decision-maker, a financial provider, and a friend, sister, and daughter. Being a mother might be her first priority, but expressing her other identities can sometimes be compromised.
She Needs Time To Enjoy Love And Self-care
Among Asian moms in our study, getting a well-deserved nap was the number one answer choice (54%) when asked what they would do with one extra hour to spend without any kids around. Moms in India were the most likely (57%) to want to use this time to spend quality time with their spouse or partner. Although most overall moms disagree that they need more alone time due to the challenges of motherhood. 63% of Japanese moms do think to have “me” time is very important during motherhood. No wonder these Japanese moms were the most likely (38%) to want to treat themselves to beauty salons or spas if they had an extra hour of “me” time.
Being A Good Mother Doesn’t Mean Doing It All
In Asian culture, men are commonly the decision-makers of the household, while women mainly take care of the children and run the house. Our study shows that in most of the surveyed Asian countries, mothers mainly call the shots when it comes to household purchasing. An exception to this is India, where the split in household purchasing decisions is fifty-fifty. Our survey also found that some mothers express concern about the lack of support from their partners regarding co-parenting. This demonstrates that a portion of mothers think that their partners are not taking on enough responsibilities while they remain overwhelmed by the amount of childcare. With more help and support from their partner, moms can be more energetic, focused, and motivated to do the hardest job in the world. As society tends to place judgment and expectations on mothers, partners should be responsible for ensuring moms too receive care and joy in the family life.
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After motherhood starts, new priorities and challenges surface. These life changes reshape mothers’ decision making when it comes to consumption. In order to be relevant, the brands should show their understanding of the mental state of mothers, delivering heartfelt, authentic messages that can make moms feel like a community is behind them and supporting them. Digital-savvy moms are active content followers on social media of family-care brands, parenting influencers, and more. Customized emotional, personal-like brand messages that show awareness and care for mothers can positively impact and engage mothers, further establishing trust and loyalty from moms.