One Redditor, a working parent, just got real about the unrealistic expectations society places on caregivers. Commenters to the post collectively agreed: It's time for a change.

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The decision to stay home with your children or go back to work can be emotionally fraught. No matter which route a person chooses, there's often guilt involved.

Am I not contributing enough for my family because I'm not bringing home a paycheck?

Am I doing it wrong because someone else is caring for my kids during the day?

Will I miss every milestone and school play?

Either way, it feels like you can't win. One Redditor, a working parent, just got real about the struggle and unrealistic expectations society places on caregivers.

Mother multi-tasking with infant daughter in home office
Credit: Getty Images

"Does anyone here feel like the way society is built just doesn't make sense?" asked u/WaterWithLime in the Mommit subreddit. "I feel like I don't see my kid as much as I would like…When did we get used to this lifestyle that demands a certain amount of money each month?"

The Redditor, who only sees her child for four hours per day, shared her ideal daily schedule in the post:

  • 6-7 a.m.: Wake up, get ready for the day
  • 8:30 a.m.: Kindergarten and work
  • 2 p.m: Pick up kid(s) and go home
  • 2-6 p.m.: Eat, play, cuddle, take it slow, or go out and do something nice as a family
  • 6:30 p.m.: Nighttime routine for kid(s)
  • 7:30 p.m.: Parents' alone time
  • 10 p.m.: Bedtime [for] grown-ups

"Oh, plus a three-day weekend," the Redditor added.

Ultimately, the mom wanted to know if she was the only one who felt like she wasn't getting enough time with her child. The post has racked up more than 200 comments in a day, and it's pretty clear: She is not alone.

"I basically get three hours with them on weekdays, and it's spent getting them ready for school/bed and feeding them breakfast/dinner. I hate it. I miss them so much," one person commented.

Many parents responded that they had to make sacrifices to obtain balance and be around for their children.

"I took a demotion to wfh (work from home). [I] wish it [was] an option for more parents (the wfh, not the demotion)," wrote one mom.

"I did the same thing when I had my daughter. I converted to contractor so I could wfh. [I] lost my health insurance and benefits, but it was worth it," wrote another.

And others lamented society's obsession with the 40-hour workweek and wondered if it was even necessary anymore.

"It drives me nuts because, at this point, the 40-hour week is not really necessary from a productivity standpoint. Unfortunately, too many feel that one's ability to live should be directly tied to [business] regardless of whether that [business] produces anything of value to society," wrote another.

Parents often shoulder much of the guilt for their decisions to work or stay home. But should they? Or, should employers and society in general offer better solutions that make true balance more accessible and sustainable?

Some are starting to push harder for the latter, research shows. This spring, FlexJobs found that nearly two-thirds of parents said they'd quit their jobs if they weren't offered a remote option amid the back-to-office push. Nearly half of parents were worried they'd have less flexibility if they had to go back to the office.

Speaking up and out may help parents make waves in the workplace. Recently, Parents writer Melissa Mills called for caregivers to start "parenting more loudly." What does that look like?

  • Be honest with your employer. If you need to leave work right at 5 p.m. to attend your child's school play, say so instead of making up a "family emergency." There's no reason to feel guilty about leaving at a normal hour to be there for your kid.
  • Don't hide your kids. Have photos and handmade art in your office. Talk about your children on lunch outings. In short, make it known you have a full life.

Experts share that parenting loudly can normalize the need for a balanced life for current and future caregivers.