Work Life Balance

Stay-At-Home Moms More Depressed Than Working Moms – But Don’t Search The Classifieds Just Yet

By  | 

mommy warsEvery five minutes, a new study comes out comparing stay-at-home moms to working moms and analyzing which group is more miserable. The latest one comes via Gallup poll, which found that SAHMs are more depressed than those fabulous career women-slash-moms (you know, the ones from those really cool Stock photos who balance a baby in one hand and a laptop in the other).

Gallup interviewed 60,000 women asked them their feelings about “yesterday.” Around 50% of SAHMs described themselves as “thriving,” compared with 63% of working moms. The SAHM group was also more likely to worry, feel sadness and experience stress. And depression was a big one, too: 28% of SAHMs struggled with depression compared to just 17 percent of working moms.

On one hand, it’s always interesting to hear what other women are going through when it comes to the elusive work-life balance. On the other hand, I always roll my eyes when I hear there’s a new study out on the subject. That’s because every family is different. Yes, it sounds so obvious, but I think many people dismiss this fact when trying to figure out what works best for them.

Case in point: At least a few of women I know personally tell me that 100% of their paycheck goes towards paying their nanny or daycare center. An obvious question might be, “Then why work?” Their answer is always one of the following: “I would go absolutely nuts being at home all day with my kids” (usually followed by a “Please don’t tell anyone I said that!”) or an equally as valid, “I work because I enjoy it.”

On the flip side are those who stay at home with the kids and love it. Some of them don’t need to work (financially), while others could really use the money but have instead decided to give up a certain lifestyle in order to be with their children all day.

These are just two “types” of mothers out there but let’s get real: hardly anyone fits perfectly into these molds. Every woman with children really struggles with the whole work-life balance thing, and most believe that the grass is greener on the other side. Beyond that, there are countless women out there who fall somewhere in between working mom and stay-at-home mom.

For example, I know a zillion moms who work from home (by choice) so that they can be there when their kids arrive home from school or attend parent-teacher conferences without having to book an entire day off work. I know just as many who freelance so they’ll have the same flexibility. Needless to say, I also have friends who are more than happy to work in an office all day and see their kids after 6, and I have just as many who are miserable about that set-up.

Which explains why the whole “stay-at-home mom vs. working mom” happiness debate needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s easy to make blanket statements – “SAHMs more depressed than working moms!” – but it’s extremely difficult to know what exactly will work for your family, and what will give you the most satisfaction.

Just last week, a close friend bitched to me about her mat leave. She was bored and frustrated and while she loves her baby very much, she was beyond ready to get back to work. Now that she’s there, she’s missing being at home big-time. I completely understand where she’s coming from! The bottom line is that there’s no magical answer. And I think many moms are finally starting to realize: You can have it all, just not at once.

(Photo: Lightspring/Shutterstock)