Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, you know there are those tasks at home that will never be finished – the laundry, the shopping, the meal preparations – and it’s enough to drive anyone to the brink of insanity. But it seems that moms who work outside the home seem to fare better when it comes to their mood in light of all of those redundant daily activities.
A Gallup survey of 60,000 mothers found that 41 percent of stay-at-home moms felt worry, 26 percent felt sadness, 50 percent felt stress, 19 percent felt anger and 28 percent had been diagnosed with depression. This was compared to working mothers (both part-time and full-time) – 34 percent felt worry, 16 percent felt sadness, 48 percent felt stress, 14 percent felt anger and 17 percent were diagnosed with depression.
Overall, the sometimes overlooked negative aspects of motherhood were lower in working mothers – not always substantially lower, but lower, nonetheless. Today.com contributor and psychotherapist Robi Ludwig says she’s not surprised.
“I didn’t find it shocking at all,” said Ludwig. “There have been studies that suggest the happiest women are women who have kids and can work part-time and have a bit more flexibility over their schedule.”
She attributes much of the higher rates of negative feelings of stay-at-home moms to feeling a lack of daily accomplishment and isolation.
“Isolation is a killer,” Ludwig stated. “We, as human beings, are not meant to be alone. The more we’re alone, the more we look at all the things we feel are not right with our lives. It contributes to people getting into a negative, self-attacking mentality. For some [stay-at-home] moms, they can feel like they’re in no-man’s land. It’s hard to feel accomplished. It’s hard to define themselves because they’re overloaded with the have-to-dos of the home. It’s a job that’s never complete. There’s always something that needs to be done. They can feel like an indentured servant.”
Moms stay home for a variety of reasons –cost of child-care is downright insane, wanting to spend time with their children while they’re young and medical reasons, just to name a few. Some of these issues can make working outside the home unachievable. But Ludwig says that not all is lost. You can still find a sense of accomplishment and growth, even if you need to stay home for one reason or another.
“The challenge for stay-at-home moms is it’s hard to feel like they’re growing,” she says. “If, for a period of time, it’s not in the card to have a job, find a purpose. Find a way so your world is not just about unmade beds and making breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Ludwig says that shopping, lunches and working out aren’t quite enough to cut the isolation, but there are many ways that moms can connect with their peers and find a sense of accomplishment. She suggests joining a book club, or joining a mother’s group or volunteering in the school system. These are just a few ideas, but there are many, many more.
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