As reported by Jezebel, a new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology shows that women who work outside the home are healthier and happier than moms who stay at home during the early years of their children’s lives. Researchers analyzed data from 1,364 mothers gathered during interviews which began shortly after their child’s birth and spanned more than a decade.
According to Cheryl Buehler, lead author of the study, “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 also showed no difference between the health and happiness of mothers working part-time versus full-time.
However, part-time working mothers were shown to be as involved in their child’s school work as stay-at-home moms and more involved than those who worked a full-time job. They were also more sensitive to their preschool children and provided more learning opportunities for their toddlers.
As a mom who has worked full-time since the birth of my first child, the results of this study are no surprise. Having a job outside of the home is a way for some moms to maintain an identity beyond catering to the needs of their children. It can be a time to decompress, interact with other adults, and challenge themselves.
It can also lead to feelings of guilt, both as an employee and a parent. This study suggests that part-time work is the ideal situation for the entire family. It allows women to balance the scales between the roles of self and mother, a scale that can be easily tipped in one direction by stay-at-home or full-time working moms who become entrenched in being the perfect mother or employee and let their own mental health fall by the wayside.
Whether women should stay at home or work outside the home has been the subject of heated debate for many years, but according to this study, meeting in the middle yields the greatest happiness for both mother and child.
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