Working Moms Need Strategies to Combat High Stress

Posted on April 30th, 2015
Posted in Mental Health

Balancing the demands of children and a career is extremely difficult, and recent research suggests that working mothers experience even more stress than working fathers. With all of the obligations involved in conducting a career and raising a family, it is easy for moms to put their own mental health on the back burner. However, taking steps to keep stress under control ultimately will help working moms perform better on all fronts.

A 2014 survey from the childcare website Care.com found that 80 percent of working mothers feel stress due to the challenge of balancing work and home life, while 25 percent cry once a week as a result of the stress they are under. A 2011 study published in the American Sociological Review may explain why working moms experience so much stress; this study found that working moms spend 10.5 more hours every week multitasking while at home than working dads. This study also found that mothers experience more stress from their at-home multitasking than fathers.

Importance of Asking for Help

Getting help is often the key for working moms when it comes to balancing the demands on their time. This could mean simply asking their spouses for more help with household chores or hiring housework, childcare or even professional assistance.

Hiring help is not feasible for everyone, but the Care.com survey suggests that many stressed moms who can afford to hire help choose not to do so. The survey found that 29 percent of the working moms who participated chose to forgo help not for financial reasons, but because they felt guilty. Women often face unreasonable expectations from society and from themselves, believing that they should be able to keep their homes pristine and raise their children without help, despite their careers.

However, getting help is not an indication of failure and can make a huge difference in everyone’s quality of life. Professional house cleaners can often do the same work better and in half the time than a multitasking mom who is trying to do three other things at once, and living in a clean and tidy space is often a tremendous stress reliever. Hiring childcare can be even more difficult for moms because it can feel like outsourcing their parenting, but spending a little less total time with your kids but more time without distractions and with lower stress is often better for kids and moms alike.

Schedule Personal Time

Guilt also hinders many working moms from making time to do things for themselves. But the importance of quality over quantity also applies here—taking an hour to exercise, take a nap or have coffee with a friend can make a tremendous difference for a working mom’s mood and productivity. In the end, personal time for mom usually means a better time for everyone.

However, it can be very difficult to find this time spontaneously amid everything else going on. As a result, it’s best not to leave personal time to chance. Instead, working moms may want to schedule their personal time just like any other appointment—in advance and at a specific time.

Establish a Routine to Help Transition Between Work and Home

Usually, there is stress and responsibility enough at home without adding work stress to the mix. Making a deliberate transition between work and home can help working moms keep the problems of one environment from affecting their duties at home. This could mean taking a short break on the way home for a coffee or a walk, taking a few minutes for themselves at home or doing whatever else helps each working mom to leave the workday behind and prepare to be fully present at home.

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