Are you trying to decide whether to be a stay-at-home mum or head back to work? The results of a new study may help you make up your mind.
A study published by the American Psychological Association found that mothers with jobs were healthier and happier than mums who stay at home during their children's infancy and pre-school years. It found that the best way for mums to balance their working and home life was to work part time, which involved between one and 32 hours per week.
The research involved interviewing 1364 mothers, including 24 percent ethnic minorities, 1 percent without a high school degree, and 14 percent single parents, shortly after their child's birth with interviews and observation over 10 years from 1991.
Lead author Cheryl Buehler, PhD, professor of human development and family studies, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro said the study found there was no difference between mums who worked part time and full time.
"In all cases with significant differences in maternal well-being, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favored part-time work over full-time or not working," she said.
"However, in many cases the well-being of mums working part time was no different from mums working full time."
The study found that mothers employed part time reported better overall health and fewer symptoms of depression than stay-at-home moms.
There was no reported differences in general health or depressive symptoms between mums employed part time and those who worked full time.
The mums who worked part-time and the mums who worked full time showed no difference in their perception of how their work supported their family.
The study also found that the part-time working mums were just as involved in their child's school as stay-at-home mums, and more involved than mums who worked full time.
In fact, it was found that part time working mums appeared to be more sensitive to pre-school aged children and provided more learning opportunities for toddlers than stay-at-home mums and mums working full time.
The authors of the study said that part-time employment worked well for both the employees and their employers.
"Since part-time work seems to contribute to the strength and well-being of families, it would be beneficial to employers if they provide fringe benefits, at least proportionally, to part-time employees as well as offer them career ladders through training and promotion," said study co-author Marion O'Brien, PhD, professor of human development and family studies, said.
The researchers of the study, which was published in APA's Journal of Family Psychology, said more study needed to be done on other employment-related factors such as professional status, scheduling flexibility, work commitment and shift schedules.
Your say: Do you agree with the study? How do you balance work and raising your children? Tell us in the comments box below.