When Going To Work Feels Like A Vacation

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

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Image source: iStockPhotos

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. 

Recent studies have shown that for American moms today, not so much. 

The 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

Of course!

 “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. 

Last but not least, what about moms who are at home full-time? That’s the hardest job there is, because there is no escape. Moms lucky enough to have jobs go to work to RELAX. 

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 abilities!

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.” 

"Heavenly," 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. 

"What did you do?" I inquired, kinda jealous. 

"Um, worked until midnight two days in a row!  It was GREAT." 

She sounded blissfully content and utterly stressfree.


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