Finally, a study that doesn’t indict working mothers
Are you a full-time working mom? If so, good news: you are not filled with regret. Congratulations!
As reported in this BBC article, “Mothers ‘are happier’ having job”, a UK research group studied almost 4,000 couples over the course of seven years. The survey yielded some interesting findings, the headline-making one being that working mothers are happier than the stay-at-home variety. (Specifically, they report higher “life satisfaction”; whether or not that equates with happiness is another matter.) Other insights: children do not increase the life satisfaction of men at all; children under the age of 5, in fact, have a negative impact on man-style satisfaction. 17 percent of men were more satisfied with their jobs than they were with their children. Women, meanwhile, were less satisfied with life when their children were between the ages of 3 and 5, but life got easier once the kids were in school. (Well, yeah.) Women without children were equally satisfied with full- or part-time work, whereas mothers were more satisfied when they worked outside the home on a full-time basis.
These results thrill me to bits, because now that Henry has turned five, I’m sure my “life satisfaction” will increase…any moment now. Except, wait, I’m not working outside the home. What if I write in the car? Will that help?
(Also mentioned in the survey was the finding that one partner’s health or employment status has “no statistically significant impact” on the well-being of the other. Really?! Those Brits, I tell you, they are cold.)
I can’t say the results regarding employment surprise me much, nor would I bet that they shock the working moms out there. Most of them know from experience that their children are not warped as a result of being taken care of by professionals during the day. There’s certainly something to be said for having your child nurtured and entertained by someone who’s being paid, unlike your sorry-ass self (and by “you” I mean “me,”) sitting there with your (my) head in a book while you (I) occasionally nudge the car seat back and forth and hope the baby thinks he’s having an adventure.
Of course I could be reading into this a bit. But seriously, as a working-from-home-kind-of mom, the few days I got a babysitter because I had to put on clean pants and lipstick and leave my home to talk to clients were (and are) among the happiest days of my early motherhood. As an adult, I like talking to adults. And not wiping someone’s ass for a few hours at a stretch. This is surprising?
And you know what? I’ll tell you what. I’m also not amazed that women are more satisfied with full-time work than they are with part-time, because part-time means you’re also expected to perform all the drudgery of the SAHM, only you’re not getting paid for that part. You’re pulled in different directions and everyone thinks you’ve got it easy, because you’re “only” working a few hours here and there. These researchers should have just talked to me.
Anyway, the study is a nice contrast to countless other studies, including the one also written about on the BBC site, which features the same photo as this one: