Working mothers are happier, healthier

A new study being talked about this week finds working mothers report higher rates of happiness and healthfulness than stay-at-home moms.

From a Huffington Post story on the research:

According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association of over 1,300 moms the happiest moms are, perhaps unsurprisingly, those who work part-time.

Full-time working mothers were equally well-off on several important levels, though. Both part- and full-time workers reported better overall health and fewer symptoms of depression than those who stayed at home. The working groups also showed no significant differences in terms of personal perceptions that their jobs “supported family life, including their ability to be a better parent,” the study’s authors said in a press release.

As for why they might be happier, the authors theorized, “a mother’s participation in employment provides her with support and resources that a mother who spends full time at home does not receive.”

The most poignant thing I can say about this research is: damn straight.

I love being a working mom. Sure, I have plenty of days when life seems so crazy that I think this would all be so much easier if I didn’t have to balance the demands of parenting kids with the demands of my career. After all, the point I am trying to make with this blog is that “having it all” is a myth, but you can do your best to go insane trying.  However, on most days, I’m thrilled with my choices: I get to help my kids grow up AND continue to nurture a journalism career I’ve been working on for over a decade.

By going to work every day, I get an eight-hour reprieve from the almost-constant need of young children to be tended to, entertained and watched over. And I think me being a working parent benefits my children tremendously as well. My children have been in daycare while I’ve worked. This gives them an opportunity to socialize and learn in a stable, regulated environment where I know they are safe. And, on most days, they are happy to go to daycare, too.

I am the first to admit I have an amazing job that allows me extreme flexibility so that I can be both a mom and a professional. If I have a sick child who can’t go to school or daycare, I can generally work at home in order to deal with it. If some parental duty that needs doing/attending to in the middle of the day comes up, I can hop back on my computer and finish my work at all hours of the day. And, believe me, I do. The other night I was up until 1:00 am filing a story. But I feel tremendously lucky to have that opportunity, because it also meant I could get mommy things done earlier in the day when many people must be present at a job.

The decision to be a working mother or a SAHM is a tough one. But it is studies like this that hearten me about my choice. And for any of you stay-at-home moms out there who think we working moms are making the wrong choice by leaving our kids for a few hours to head out to a job, I have this to say: I respect your decision to stay home, please respect mine.


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