Could a desk and non-mom duties help your health? A new study says yes. Conducted by Adrianne Frech and Sarah Damaske, the study analyzed women who became mothers between 1978 and 1995. After adjusting for other influencers, such as prior health, prior employment, marital status and age at baby’s birth, the researchers concluded that moms who work full time are happier and healthier than moms who stay at home, work part time, or moms who find themselves repeatedly out of work.
Frech and Damaske found that women who went back to work shortly after giving birth reported better mental and physical health at age 40 than their peers. Frech feels going to work offers benefits than staying at home can’t.
"It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control and autonomy,” Frech says. “They have a place where they are an expert on something, and they’re paid a wage.” Having a job also offers more opportunities to interact with other people and a chance to get out of the house. No word from the researchers on how exactly this affects physical health, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that the moms were reporting on their own health (if you feel better mentally, it’s likely you’re more likely to say you feel better physically, right?)
That said, Frech and Damaske noted stay-at-home moms were not the unhappiest or unhealthiest of the bunch. They found that persistently unemployed mothers, those who are in and out of the workforce, were the least healthy. Frech says this is due to the stress caused by work instability.
"Struggling to hold onto a job or being in constant job search mode wears on their health, especially mentally, but also physically.”
Ultimately, being a mother is a full time (and often difficult) job. And at the end of the day, I think your child’s happiness should determine your own happiness, not whether or not you get a paycheck.
Are you a stay-at-home mom or working mom? What do you think of the latest studies?