We cocoon at
home in order to retreat and recharge from the stresses of work, school, and
crazy texting drivers on the highway, right?
Once upon on a
time that might have been true.
have shown that for American moms today, not so much.
study, conducted by researcher Sarah Damaske at the Council on Contemporary
Families, measured the cortisol of 122
workers of various socioeconomic levels at work and at home. Across the board,
regardless of socioeconomic status or gender or whether or not they had kids,
[w]omen reported lower levels of stress at work, while men reported lower
levels of stress at home.
“Contradicting conventional wisdom,” explains
Dr. Damaske. “[Women] report themselves happier at work than at home…People who work
have better mental and physical health than their non-working peers. Our findings suggest that telling people to
quit or cut back on work in order to resolve their work-family conflicts may
not be the best long-run advice. Mothers who work full time and steadily across their twenties and thirties report better
mental and physical health at age 45 than mothers who work part-time, who stay
at home, or who experience repeated bouts of unemployment.
Think about it.
What do we moms confess to each other each January, early September, and on the
blessed Monday after Thanksgiving?
Relief and joy,
because the holidays-at-home-with-kids-and-husbands are finally over.
Since when have
school breaks, summer vacation, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, actually been any
kind of vacation for moms?
Holidays mean endless
dispute resolution, extra cooking, tons of additional cleaning, all that gift-wrapping,
and way too much relative entertaining.
And let’s not
get started on snow days and how RELAXING those are when you have kids who
cannot be left home alone.
Work is the new
“me time” for moms. You know,
hours on end when you can focus on your own goals, not your third graders’ math
homework; time for you to use your brain; uninterrupted stretches to write a
report, study something, hold a meeting, or just plain old GET SOMETHING DONE. And people there are actually sometimes impressed with us and our
Work – there’s
nothing like it for managing stress!
A working mom friend
with small kids just got a break from weekends that, as her kids have grown
into tweens, have become crazier than weekdays. You know, the carpooling to soccer, the
mind-numbing laser tag birthday parties, the need to channel Nurse Ratchet to
get kids to fall asleep at sleepovers. Her husband took their three children
camping for a night with a bunch of other dads.
(A horrifying prospect to me, but dads seem to like this kind of thing.)
I asked her how
her weekend alone was.
I started to
put on my sad face in case she said “lonely.”
was her immediate answer. I had not heard her sound so enthusiastic since the
first time she told me she was pregnant. She sounded like she had just
discovered a long hidden new G-spot.
you do?” I inquired, kinda jealous.
worked until midnight two days in a row!
It was GREAT.”
She sounded blissfully content and utterly stressfree.