Nearly a quarter of American mothers now identify as stay-at-home parents—a sharp rise from 15% in 2022—and 2023 marked the year I became one of them. My youngest (born in 2021) kept getting sick due to low immunity caused by an isolating pandemic and a lack of childcare options. It was a tough decision, but I opted for the “break” from helping startups cross the acquisition finish line as a content leader. 

I took it as an opportunity to learn about other industries and dive into all the parenting areas where, quite frankly, I was winging it while helping build those great companies. I recorded what I learned, created blogs and playbooks to lean on, and produced 12 episodes in 6 months for the MomShine show and website. 

My biggest takeaway in less than a year? All roads lead back to “moms leading by example,” and there are many areas in which we could focus to feel better. There was so much I wanted to tackle when I first started on this journey. Kids’ sports were driving me crazy, pre-menopausal symptoms were taking me down, and everything surrounding social media felt headed in a terrifyingly worse direction. 

Over the past six months, I have learned a lot and started thinking—what if there were some new norms to lean on? What if just a few things were more accessible to help make us and, more importantly, our kids feel better? I’d love more awareness to help working moms stay at their best and raise the next generation of superstars. So here goes…

New Norms for Modern Mothers to Live By

New Norm for Modern Moms #1: Kids would have more access to organized sports to improve their game

Did you know physically active children are 15% more likely to attend college and that student-athletes earn up to 40% higher test scores? These are just some of the many benefits of regular physical activity for children as they grow up.

That’s why I was surprised that in the U.S., only 50.7% of youth ages 6-17 say they “participated on a sports team” or “took sports lessons after school or on weekends.” Compared to countries like Norway, where 93% of children grow up playing organized sports, that feels low. They also achieved more medals in the Winter Olympics than any other country.

As I learned from youth sports pioneer and founder of Changing the Game Project, John O’Sullivan, the reason for this difference is that many countries around the world (especially in Europe) fund youth sports. Individual families pay a small fee, and the government supports the clubs by providing different youth sports programs.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case here in the U.S. Still, instead of paying expensive club fees at young ages, the key takeaway from this model is letting kids experience as many sports as possible and holding off on higher-level sports events (i.e., championships) until later, so it’s more about sports sampling and development and less about winning. 

Instead, we could support more locally funded teams. We could put the fun back into the game, opening it up to all levels and bars of talent to succeed. We could also get more moms out there coaching as much as possible. Listen to the full episode to see how that’s also been decreasing over time.

New Norm for Modern Moms #2: Social media would be a safe space instead of an unregulated nightmare

Beating a dead horse here, I know. However, according to Pew Research, 15% of teens say they’ve experienced someone other than a parent constantly asking them where they are, what they’re doing, or who they’re with when online and using their cell phone. Another 10% say they have been physically threatened, and 7% of teens say they have had explicit images of them shared without their consent. Even more shocking is that until 2024, there weren’t any federal or state laws to protect teens from receiving this type of media. Meanwhile, a vibrant tech world made $11B from them alone in 2022.

That’s starting to change in California, thanks to Larissa May, founder of online learning platform #HalftheStory, and her work with Governor Gavin Newsom on getting California Assembly Bill 1394 passed and into effect earlier this year. This bill will get tech companies to put more defense mechanisms around sex trafficking and very harmful content deemed as sexual abuse on the internet, which is a low stake. “It’s just an example of how far we are behind in protecting young people in the digital world,” says Larissa. 

What could we do better to manage social media? I’m excited to learn that Florida is currently testing such measures by prohibiting them until they are a certain age. Parents can teach kids about the money-making platform they are engaging with and put a proactive, family-friendly tech contract in place. I am also a happy ambassador of products that support digital well-being, like an Aro box. Unfortunately, much of the onus for protection will continue to be on us to create avenues for open discussion and set the example of engaging on these platforms for years to come.

New Norm for Modern Moms #3: Menopause support would be readily available

Although 168 million women are living with menopause in the US (and 1 billion worldwide), we don’t know much about it. As Let’s Talk Menopause co-founder Donna Klassen called out in a recent episode of the Momshine podcast, menopause is misunderstood by women going through it and medical professionals alike due to some alarming statistics.

  • ​​75% of women who seek medical care regarding symptoms of menopause are left untreated.
  • 80% of OBGYN residents admit to being ill-prepared to discuss menopause.

At least 27M, representing 20% of the workforce, are in some menopause transition phase. Symptoms can be severe and include depression, anxiousness, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, sleeplessness, hot flashes, day sweats, night sweats, chills, irritability, weight gain, hair loss, and more. Every woman experiences it differently, but most OBGYNs don’t have much education about menopause, which makes treating it difficult.

As for hormone replacement therapy, the North American Menopause Society made its recommendations in 2022 and encouraged people to do a risk-benefit analysis with their medical provider. “But the main problem is that after that study happened, menopause was taken out of the curriculum in medical school,” says Donna. 

We could do better by making menopause education and research more mainstream. Sign this bill to do your part. According to this Time article, experts believe a meaningful shift will only occur once the core issues change: How research is conducted and disseminated, how doctors are trained, and how seriously practitioners take women’s pain. With the million-plus people in the U.S. who reach menopause every year, we need it.

New Norm for Modern Moms #4: Maternal mortality would decrease with access to solid postpartum support 

An astonishing 800 women died in 2020 due to maternal causes in the U.S., while in 2021, over 1,200 women died of pregnancy-related issues. According to The Washington Department of Health, 80% of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable. 

Over half of those deaths occur between 7 days and one year after pregnancy (the fourth trimester.) According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality among wealthy nations. In a BabyCenter survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. moms, 44% of white mothers said they received the support they needed when leaving the hospital as new mothers. However, compare that to 38% of Hispanic mothers, 32% of Black mothers, and only 22% of Asian American and Pacific Islander mothers.

Other countries have different approaches to supporting mothers post-birth. In South Korea, it’s customary for mothers to stay in postpartum centers up to 14 days after birth. In Latin America and China, there are postpartum periods during which others handle chores, help the mom rest and bond with the baby. In Europe, it’s common for midwives to visit new moms at home to provide similar care and lactation assistance.

We could do better by providing better postpartum support. Reasonable paid family leave, doula and midwife support, and more contact with new moms would help. The PBS docu-series on The Risk of Giving Birth shows some hospitals just simply checking up on moms more frequently in the days and months after giving birth can make a huge difference.

All I Want for Mother’s Day is Some Awareness for the Modern Mom

I have researched and learned many things about kids’ mental well-being related to mom. Just role-modeling a healthy lifestyle can help improve kids’ outlook in the long run. But don’t get me wrong—it’s the hardest job at times, especially when juggling work and other responsibilities. However, the data shows that happy moms are more likely than happy dads to produce teenage children with fewer high levels of mental health problems. This is true for both boys and girls. 

There’s a significant weight on moms to be shining examples, but being aware of where to focus and invest your time gives you the power to change, put the measures in place to help yourself, support other moms around you, and allow you and your kids to shine, too.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and enjoy Mother’s Day!