(dailyRx News) Although some find the ability to stay at home with their kids a luxury, a new study suggests it may take a toll on the well-being of some.
The study found that moms who work show less signs of depression and an overall increase in general wellbeing. And according to the study’s author, part-time work may be the typical mom’s ideal.
Cheryl Buehler, Ph.D., of UNC Greensboro and her team analyzed data from interviews of 1,364 mothers in ten U.S. locations from 1991 on. The interviews took place shortly after giving birth with continued visits and communications for up to a ten year time period thereafter.
“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,” Dr. Buehler details. "However, in many cases the well-being of moms working part -time was no different from moms working full-time."
Though working part- or full-time didn’t show significant difference, working mothers were generally happier and healthier than those without. Stay-at-home moms reported more symptoms of depression and their general health was affected, whereas part-time working mothers found themselves just as involved in their children’s activities as their non-working counterparts and more than full-time parents.
dailyRx contributing expert Shannon Kolakowski, Psy.D., practices psychology in a private practice working with adults, couples, and adolescents.
Dr. Kolakowski tells dailyRx that mothers working in any capacity, “are able to find meaning in their work, maintain interpersonal connections outside of the home, have a separate sense of identity that comes with their career role, and are able to share parenting responsibilities with either a spouse or trusted care provider.
Meaningful work may lead to a richer, more stimulating environment for the mom, and provides daily structure, both of which tend to offset depression.”
For mothers without the desire or means to obtain employment, dailyRx asked the doctor for helpful advice in maintaining a good lifestyle.
It becomes easy for stay-at-home parents to get dissatisfied with the role of home-maker, which attributes to poor moods and Dr. Kolakowski suggests, “in order to combat low mood, it is important to look at a few key factors in relational and familial happiness.
“First, having equity between partners is a crucial part of having a satisfying, intimate relationship. Equity means that each partner feels they are valued, feels they are involved in a partnership, and is validated for what they are contributing to the partnership.
“Next, fathers who are more involved as parents tend to have wives and kids who are more satisfied, and tend to report more satisfaction in their own life. A warm, involved dad who takes an active role in parenting is a great way for the family to increase its emotional attachment.
“Equity in relationships and an involved spouse can offset low mood, as can creating time for meaningful relationships and activities outside of the home environment, making time to connect with other adults, and maintaining a sense of identity and independence outside of the home.”
It’s important for families to understand balance in order to maintain a happy, healthy household.
Many mental health professionals, such as Dr. Kolakowski, provide their services to help parents secure their footing and facilitate a well-functioning lifestyle. Contact a health practitioner for more information.