It’s not just guilt, a working mother has to overcome a lot of practical challenges in balancing work and parenting. No wonder they have been found to be more stressed than other people, as per a study.
A recently conducted study has found that working mothers are 18 per cent more stressed than others. Working women with two children, on the other hand, were 40 per cent more stressed in comparison.
The study was conducted by Professor Tarani Chandola, of Manchester University, and Dr Cara Booker, Professor Meena Kumari and Professor Michaela Benzeval, of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University, who examined data taken from participants in the UK Household Longitudinal Survey.
“Work-family conflict is associated with increased psychological strain, with higher levels of stress and lower levels of well-being. Parents of young children are at particular risk of work-family conflict. Working conditions that are not flexible to these family demands, such as long working hours, could adversely impact on a person’s stress reactions,” Chandola was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Some mothers also opt for part-time jobs or work from home. Turns out, neither of them really have any positive effect on a woman’s chronic stress level.
This reminds us of former First Lady Michelle Obama, who talks about her experience of doing a part-time job after daughter Malia’s birth. In her memoir Becoming, she writes, “At work, I was still attending all the meetings I always had while also grappling with most of the same responsibilities. I battled guilt when I had to take work calls at home…I battled a different sort of guilt when I sat at my office distracted by the idea that Malia might be allergic to peanuts.”
The study further found that hormone levels and blood pressure were 40 per cent higher for full-time working women with two children than among those with no children. Mothers with one child, who were working full time, had 18 per cent higher stress levels than those with no children.
“The use of such reduced-hours flexible work arrangements appeared to moderate some of the association of family and work stressors. But there was little evidence that flexplace or flextime working arrangements were associated with lower chronic stress responses,” Benzeval added.