December 6, 2011

Multitasking Makes Mom More Stressed

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Stress and negativity more common in over worked moms

(dailyRx News) Gender equality has evened out drastically over the past century, although sociologists explain balance is still needed, especially in dual-earning homes. 

Shira Offer, a research sociologist, explains that findings from her recent study “provide support for the popular notion that women are the ultimate multitaskers and suggest that the emotional experience of multitasking is very different for mothers and fathers.”

"Managing a family requires equal distribution of childcare."

The study demonstrates that although working moms multitask more, they tend to enjoy it significantly less. Published in December’s issue of the American Sociological Review, the authors explain how parents spend at least one-third of their functioning hours performing multiple activities at once.

Offer and her team notes “multitasking constitutes an important source of gender inequality, which can help explain previous findings that mothers feel more burdened and stressed than do fathers even when they have relatively similar workloads”

Findings reported that mothers spent an average of ten additional hours each week multitasking than fathers. Additionally, women spent seven hours each week multitasking unpaid activities such as housework, childcare, or grocery shopping, where fathers spent less than three.

Authors reported specific differences, highlighting that “for mothers, multitasking activities at home and in public are associated with an increase in negative emotions, stress, psychological distress, and work-family conflict. By contrast, fathers’ multitasking at home involves less housework and childcare and is not a negative experience.”

The study used data from the 500 Family Study, which collected in-depth information on families and their daily activities from eight urban and suburban areas throughout the United States. Additionally, the current study used a sub-sample of 368 mothers and 241 fathers in dual-earner families from the 500 Family Study. Recruited families participating consisted of primarily white, middle-class, highly educated and employed dual-income parents.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, stress increases risks for depression and heart disease and the best way to alleviate stress involves working on the underlying issues. Figuring out ways to increase calming and relaxing feelings, such as speaking with a counselor, aids stress relief.

If stress affects your health and happiness, speak with a health professional about simple tips to balance emotions or anxiety before it becomes a bigger problem.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
December 2, 2011

Last Updated:
December 6, 2011