Working moms more Prone to Depression than SAHM's?

Katherine - posted on 05/12/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )

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For the past decade I’ve worked as a producer in local television news. I’ve covered a lot of amazing stories during my career including the kidnapping and unbelievable return of Elizabeth Smart, the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and some pretty high profile murder cases.

I loved it. I was never bored. And then I had a child and I hated it. The guilt over not spending more time with my daughter was crippling. She bonded more with her dad than with me and I felt left out. I determined that it would not be the same with my second child.

I gave birth to Henry a little over two months ago and was able to quit my job to become a freelance writer while on maternity leave. I am now a stay-at-home-mom who works from home. Guess what? The guilt is the same. I feel guilty I’m not entertaining the kids enough or that they may be watching too much TV.

The whole experience made me wonder: are working moms more prone to depression than those who stay at home?

I have an answer.

Mothers of young children face difficult decisions when it comes to employment. Some feminists warn that staying home leads to social isolation, increasing the risk of maternal depression. But many neo-traditionalists counter that employment increases women’s stress levels, leading to depression because of lost time with children or worries about child care.

The question of whether working or staying home causes depression matters not just for the sake of mothers’ happiness, but for the well-being of children, since maternal depression is a risk factor for children. So it is important to know the findings of a new study: When it comes to mothers’ risk of depression, both these one-size-fits-all arguments miss the mark.

The new study I quoted from suggests that it’s less important whether a mother works outside of the home than the kind of job she has. Working moms who have good jobs had among the lowest levels of depressive symptoms of all the mothers studied. Mothers who did not work outside the home were only unhappy if they wanted to work. In fact, the women who were stay-at-home-moms who wanted to work face the same risk of depression than the women working crappy jobs.

So, as the study says, employment isn’t always “good” or “bad” for women’s morale. Much depends on the quality of the job, and this can even trump a woman’s preference. Makes sense. A satisfying job seems to keep depression at bay. It also is likely to pay more which eliminates a lot of the financial strain that can cause depression, so there are several factors at play.

The study was written by two American sociologists and could help in understanding the problem of maternal depression – which sociologists say they’re increasingly concerned about. Other research has found high levels of depression especially among moms with kids under age three. This is bad for kids and spouses as well as mothers, and tends to strain sometimes already fragile families.

Hopefully, since I chose and want to be at home, I can avoid the depression that so often strikes mothers with young children. Of course, then I had to go and read this: Parents Working at Home Hurt Kids. Dear God, can’t a mom get a break? Yeesh.

I have to admit, it’s been a tough transition. I could go days without speaking to another adult, properly dressing and putting on make-up. That seems to be a recipe for depression, though, so I make it a point to shower every day, get dressed and try to get to the gym for a quick hour of cardio.

What have you discovered on your motherhood journey? Are you a better mom if you work? Like the study says, does the job matter or are you just happy to get out of the house and talk to adults? Or are you a better stay-at-home mom? Maybe you’re like me? A stay-at-home-mom who works? Got any tips or tricks for keeping the mother-induced guilt and subsequent depression at bay?

The study was released Friday by the Council of Contemporary Families

http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/20...

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Kellie - posted on 05/12/2011

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"I feel guilty I’m not entertaining the kids enough or that they may be watching too much TV" this is exactly what I've been struggling with! Rayne is my first baby (she's 6 month old now). While I was pregnant I was adament I would go back to work when she was 3 months old, I even started looking when she was about 2 months old and was nearly crippled by an anxiety attack! you could have knocked me over with a feather when I realised what my problem was and that I wasn't ready. My partner said it's ok you don't have to go back until she's 12 months old. i was like wow really? and that horrible feeling went away. then I saw the perfect job for me, so I applied and got through to the second stage which was a 5 day programme. By day 2 I realised that no matter how perfect the job was for me it wasn't time for me to leave my baby. She wasn't ready for Mummy to be away from her all day either. I've realised in the last couple of days that I want to be home with her until she starts school. This is a HUGE turnaround for me as I have been working and on my own since I was 16 and now I have an amazing partner who can and does support me and our daughter AND my decision/feeling about wanting to stay at home with her until she starts school.
I think the pressure and guilt trips we put on ourselves no matter whether we stay at home full time or work is where the depression is likely to find it's way in and get it's nasty little hold on us. WE feel we must be and do everything, I stay at home therefore I must watch, entertain, stimulate and help the baby reach her milestones, cook everyday, clean the house every day (all by myself), do the washing, do the dishes, feed the baby, feed,clean and dress myself, do the dishes and the list goes on and heavan forbid if i don't get it all done!. Mum's who also work feel like they need to do all of the above, plus spend time with the kid/s, husband/partner, work hard at their jobs with all the responsibility all that entatils, and heavan forbid if ANY of us want a little me time! the sahm surely was getting all the me time she needs while sitting on her ass on the couch all day and the working Mum must be having respite from home while at work!
There is NOTHING wrong with WANTING to work outside the home, neither is there anything wrong with wanting to stay at home, it is how we feel about ourselves and our decisions where things can get pear shaped. Do I get lonely and isolated absolutely I only have a 6 month old for company, is there something I can do about this absolutely! I can go to the shops and walk around, i can go and see a friend, i can join playgroups, i can go to the gym and the list goes on. As i've not been a working mum i don't have an answer except to say you (we all do really) need to do whats right for us, if you want and need to work GO FOR IT!!! it's quality over quantity make the time you do have with your kids count and that's all that matters in the end. Trust me I KNOW. I would rather have had 2 full time working parents who were happy and spent quality time with me than the useless heroin addicts I had that are now dead. My father dies when i was 7 from an overdose and my mother dies from AIDS when i was 15.

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Rachel - posted on 12/03/2013

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I completely understand. My daughter is 2. I have been working two jobs all my life and after I had my daughter I went down to part time. I am a nurse also and it's good to keep my skills up. I just have a hard time because I don't get any adult interaction. I take my daughter to play groups and gymnastics but I have a hard time opening up anymore. I have lost "me" too.....

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Kellie- I just wanted to let you know that my ratings are exlusive of the last sentence. : ( I'm really sorry you had to deal with that. I've been there...really shitty childhood with addicts then dumped and lived in the system until I was 16. That will NEVER EVER happen to my babies. ♥

Krista - posted on 05/12/2011

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I really, really hoped to be going back to work part time after my second child. To me, that would be perfect. I could still teach, but not miss out on so much time with my kids. But, we're really struggling on maternity pay, so it looks like I have to go back full time. At least teaching is a fairly mommy-friendly job. The hours are good (when I'm not bringing home a ton of marking and planning!) and I get summers with my kids. I can even request that my kids go to my school when they're old enough, so I'll be able to see them even more.

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I think that no matter what you do, go to work or stay home, there will be mixed emotions about it that could lead to depression. When you go to work you leave the babies, but then when you stay at home you may feel like you need more adult interaction. I'm a sahm and am planning to go back to work one night per week to keep my skills up (nurse) and having adult interaction will be an added bonus. I've kind of lost 'me' somewhere along the way, which is a hard thing to talk about bc people tend to take the words the wrong way and judge. It doesn't mean that I don't love my kids or want to escape them, it just means that I need a moment for me, too. Make sense?

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That does seem stupid Mel. I's like they're punishing you for trying to get ahead and do better. It should be that after so many months or amount of time they start cutting it down, but not in the beginning transition. That makes it too hard and people give up.

Mel - posted on 05/12/2011

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lol I know my income wouldnt not change and its not much as its just checkout work but it really is where I want to go back to. When I worked only 5 hours a week after Brianna was born I stll lost money on a few dollars but still lost some. Seems stupid

Katherine - posted on 05/12/2011

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It's hard either way. Me? I NEED to work! I need the respite. But here you just can't make over a certain amount a month which is quite a bit. So I wouldn't lose my benefits.
I too have applied for a ton of jobs, I just need to be picky because I'm not working for peanuts lol.

Mel - posted on 05/12/2011

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For me Im stuck....Ive just applied for a bunch of jobs today, but I sit there trying to think realistically about it all, daycare fees going up because Im working, trying to manage it with breast feeding and losing my centrelink money just because I want to work a few days....I get people encouraging me to go for more days weekends and late nights too, but I think to myself if I go al out and work now Im going to regret it later...I dont want to end up having to give up feeding my daughter because I had to go to work so I think its such a hard decison. My reasoning is number 1 adult interaction - I enjoy my job to an extent so I want to be back there , and 2 my husband doesnt know how to save money so we just recently separated so I need to try and get some money behind me . These are my reasons. I dont personally want to work from home alot of people do it, but its so not from me , doesnt get me out the house which is what I need right now. I think the job does matter to an extent - at this point I think Id be happy with any kind of job, but Im very greatful to enjoy something that is so easy to getback to while being a mother, because what I did for a living and stil want to do is not really considered a high class job. I personally think staying at home causes depressing but at the same time different people different feelingsa nd views. Some people were meant to be at home with thier kids, some people were meant to work, so if something doesnt make you happy in yourself then your going to suffer for it obviously.

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