with Amy Urquhart
I’m Amy and I’ve spent the last three years trying to strike that perfect balance between being a wife, mom and professional career woman. I’ve decided that I’ll never perfect the art of “having it all”, but this blog is a chronicle of my attempts to continue to do so. I’m a blogger (my personal blog about Canadian home life is Hearts into Home), gardener, college instructor, wife to Graham and mom to Nate. If you’re also a working mom who finds there just aren’t enough hours in the day, I hope you’ll enjoy this column!
Read her blog at Hearts into Home.
A recent study of 1,364 new mothers found that, over the course of about a decade, the moms who worked at least part time were healthier and happier than those who decided to stay home with their kids — especially when their kids were very young.
It sounds like the latest battle in the ongoing Mommy Wars, but it doesn’t have to be. The health benefits, the happiness… I think it all boils down to whether you’re doing what you really want to be doing.
According to the study, “Mothers’ part-time employment: Associations with mother and family well-being,” published in the December issue of the American Psychological Association’s “Journal of Family Psychology,” being employed has multiple benefits for moms. The researchers found that those who worked anywhere form 1 to 32 hours per week were more sensitive to their kids’ needs, less likely to have symptoms of depression, and more likely to split household duties with their spouses than mothers who were not employed. Moms who worked full-time outside of the home were more stressed out, which makes sense, but still reported fewer symptoms of depression than stay-at-home moms — which took the researchers by surprise.
“In all cases with significant differences in maternal well-being, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favored part-time work over full-time or not working,” the study’s lead author, Cheryl Buehler, professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said in a statement. “However, in many cases the well-being of moms working part time was no different from moms working full time.”
The moms in the study were from 10 different states and from varying socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Some were single moms. Some were college grads. Some never finished high school. But the health benefits of working was evident in spite of all of the differences, the researchers said. “It may be employment in general rather than the number of work hours that protects against depressed mood when children are young,” Buehler concluded.
But for every woman who has told me that maternity leave was the toughest time of their lives, I know a stay-at-home mom who says she feels fulfilled by her choice drop out of the work force and focus on the kids. Staying home with your kids is a career choice in my book, not a moral imperative, so it makes sense that as long as you’re doing what you love, you’ll be happier and healthier than someone who is logging long hours in a place where they’d rather not be.
What do you think? Does working make you happier? Why or why not?
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