Mums who go back to work in their children’s early years are happier and have fewer health problems than mums who stay at home, according to a 10-year study in the USA.
Following 1,364 mums for a decade after the birth of their children, researchers measured overall health, symptoms of depression and asked questions about how mums felt about their families.
“In all cases with significant differences in maternal wellbeing, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favoured part-time work over full-time or not working,” said lead author Professor Cheryl Buehler. “However, in many cases the wellbeing of mums working part time was no different from mums working full time.”
The study found that working mums, regardless of their hours, felt their employment supported family life and allowed them to be a better parent. General health was better for working mums, also regardless of their hours, when compared to stay-at-home mums (SAHMs).
But where part-time workers gained the advantage was that they could be just as involved in their children’s school life as SAHMs, while full-time workers were not as engaged. The study also suggested that mums who worked part time were more sensitive to their children’s needs and provided more learning opportunities when they were toddlers.
But we know that every family is different. What works – or isn’t working – for you?