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3 Science-Backed Reasons Why Working Moms Can Let Go of the Guilt Now

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

I don’t know about the other working moms out there, but this whole balancing act of managing a career while raising my children is seriously HARD. Motherhood alone is the hardest job there is (the lack of vacation days is no joke!) and it requires almost all of my dedication and attention, day in and day out. So when you add in a career on top of it all, well, something has to give; and most working moms I know will tell you they often feel guilty about the same damn thing: What they give to their careers, they might be taking away from their children.

If you’ve been stressing yourself out over that very same dilemma, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. But here’s something that (I hope) will have you breathing a little easier: Research tells us that our working mom status may actually be helpful to our children in the long run.

Wait … what? Working, and not being at home with our children all the time, might actually be helping them?

Yep, it’s true!

1. Children who attend daycare tend to perform better academically.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I’ll admit to being the woman who used spelling flashcards with her 1-year-old and spent hours teaching her the educational details of any activity that I could engage her in. But when my son was born and I wasn’t able to afford him the same blessing of being a stay-at-home-mom, I worried that he might get lost in a sea of children at daycare, and not benefit from the same learning opportunities that I was able to give my daughter.

But all my worrying may have been for naught: According to a study by the U.S. Institute of National Health, children who attended daycare actually scored slightly higher on measures of academic and cognitive achievement years later as teens.

As James Griffin from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development points out:

“High quality child care appears to provide a small boost to academic performance, perhaps by fostering the early acquisition of school readiness skills. The current findings reveal that the modest association between early childcare and subsequent academic achievement and behavior seen in earlier study findings persists through childhood and into the teen years.”

Well I’ll be darned, I guess I don’t need to worry about short-changing my son in his education after all, because it appears as if daycare really can pick up the slack when I’m not there!

2. Daycare actually helps boosts children’s immune systems.

When my children started daycare nearly four years ago, I’m not going to lie, I feel like we contracted every single germ that our part of the country had to offer. From mono (yep, my 3-year-old got mono) to hand, foot, and mouth disease, and about seven rounds of the stomach flu, I think I took more sick days than working days that year.

But since that first year, I can count on one finger the amount of sick days my kids have had, and science says that’s pretty typical. According to a large study published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, kids who are regularly exposed to large groups of children before the age of 2 1/2, get sick significantly less in their elementary school years. As study author Sylvana M. Côté, Ph.D., of Ste-Justine Hospital and the University of Montreal, Quebec, told Health.com, “I argue earlier is better to have infections, because then kids do not miss school at a crucial time — when learning to read and write.”

Huh, I guess all those sick days weren’t wasted!

3. Children with working mothers become more successful adults.

As a mom, one of my biggest worries is that because I’m not with my kids as much as stay-at-home moms, that I won’t set a good example for my children. It really does bother me that I may not be able to set the example for them that I would like to, because I am not with them as much as I’d like to be.

But according to a study run by Harvard Professor Kathleen McGuinn that involved studying 50,000 in 24 different countries, working moms don’t need to be physically present to be modeling a successful life path. In McGuinn’s research, which compiled data from multiple studies, it was found that girls who grew up with a working mother actually surpassed the career achievements of those who did not. Once entering the workforce themselves, they were found to earn 23% more than girls who grew up with mothers who did not work, and they also tended to hold higher positions in their workplace.

And since we can’t forget the example that working moms are setting for their sons, the study also showed that men who grew up with working mothers spend on average, 7.5 hours more per week on childcare, and also contributed more to household chores. (Way to go working momma’s, teaching your sons to be a team player!)

I don’t know about you, but I feel like all mothers  already have enough to worry about. We worry about our kids from the second we wake up, until the second we go to bed. And all those hours in between? Yep, we worry about our kids then too! Some days I’d love to be a stay-at-home mom again and relish in all the time I get to help my children grow, but believe me, I remember how hard those days were, too. Being a stay-at-home mom is definitely a full-time job, and not an easy one at that.

My point is, there’s no right way to parent — other than doing everything we can to make sure our kids are loved and supported.

So while I hope these stats do something to put the minds of working moms at ease, I also want to give a shout-out to all the hardworking stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, and even part-time working moms, because I know you are rocking it.

And I don’t need science to prove it’s true.

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