Study Finds Working Moms of Small Children are Healthier and Happier than Their Stay-at-Home Counterparts

Work-Life Balance on 12.15.11
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There is always much debate over whether or not moms should go back to work or not after they've had a baby in terms of what's best for the baby, but what about what's best for the moms. A new study published in the December issue of the Journal of Family Psychology says that working moms of infants and toddlers are healthier and happier than stay-at-home moms. reports that the 20 year study of more than 1,350 mothers from nine states coast to coast found that mothers of children who had not yet started school reported fewer instances of depression and better overall health. Mothers working part-time (1 to 32 hours) appeared to have the best balance of kids, work, health, and happiness.

"Mothers employed part time reported being just as involved in their child's schooling as stay-at-home moms, and more involved than moms who worked full time. In addition, mothers working part time provided more learning opportunities for their toddlers than stay-at-home moms and moms working full time, the researchers said."

The theory behind why this is likely the case is that stay-at-home moms tend to be more isolated and stressed because they rarely get a break whereas working moms are getting adult social interaction and spending some time focusing on something other than their children. There appears to be even more of a case for this because once the children started preschool, there didn't appear to be a significant difference between the health and happiness of working versus stay-at-home moms.

As a mom who went back to work when my son was three months old and stayed home with my children when my daughter was born, I found staying at home full time much more stressful. For those moms out there that are struggling staying home, it may be worth looking into finding a part time job that's even just a few hours a week. Even if you break even on paying a babysitter, it may just be what the doctor ordered for you to be healthier and happier. The saying goes, "When momma ain't happy, nobody's happy" so if spending a few hours outside of the home working each week will give you more balance, it will likely also create a happier household which is better for the whole family.

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