New Research Claims People With Kids Find Life More Meaningful And More Exhausting

shutterstock_117479848__1381676938_142.196.156.251Yet another piece of research came out this week analyzing just how happy parents are compared to people without kids. I’m not quite sure why we keep trying to figure out who is leading a more meaningful existence. Why does there seem to be an innate need to scientifically prove that the life choices we make are “right?”

The research seems to confirm that parenting is tough. 12 percent of respondents rated child-care as exhausting – while housework, paid work and leisure only seemed to exhaust five to seven percent of respondents. The research also seemed to confirm that parenting is more “meaningful” than work for most people. 62 percent of those surveyed said child care was “very meaningful,” while only 36 percent said the same about work.

I don’t need a study to confirm that parenting is exhausting. I have a teething infant rebounding from her second round of vaccinations. She wants to be on the boob constantly, so I’ve had about five hours of sleep this weekend. I have a toddler who has taken a liking to singing in the middle of the night. This goes on for about two hours at a time. If he keeps this up, I won’t need to apply make-up for Halloween. The bags under my eyes are that impressive. But you don’t have to be a parent to experience utter exhaustion.

I have a friend who works in a law office. Her days are way harder and longer than mine. She doesn’t have kids. She works 13 to 14 hour days. I’d like to see how she would respond to the 93 percent who apparently think that work is not exhausting. Also – this person happens to be one of the happiest, kindest people I have ever met. She’s never expressed any interest in having kids.

When it comes to feeling happy, time with children also beats time at work. Parents on average report that they are ”very happy” in 35% of their child-care activities, compared with 19% of their paid work-related activities. In fact, the happiness level that parents experience during their time caring for children is only slightly lower than it is during their leisure time (41% rated as very happy).

So parents are happier spending time with their kids than they are working. But still, they’re happiest doing neither – as leisure time ranks the highest.

My search for happiness and contentment did not end when I had kids. I have the same internal dialogue that I has always riddled my brain. I have the same questions about whether I am doing the right thing, following the right path and doing enough with my life. So basically, as far as all of this research goes – I’m not sure I have ever met anyone who is genuinely happy. I think it’s the human condition to constantly be searching, worrying and wondering. Having kids does not automatically shroud your life in meaning or make you more content.

(photo: Langstrup/ Shutterstock)

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