New Study Finds Working Mums Are Way More Stressed Than Everyone Else

Validation at last! Researchers have now proved that mums who work are WAY more stressed out than other people.

Mothers bringing up two children while also working full-time are 40 percent more stressed than working women with no kids. Give us a wine and foot rub already!

Apparently bringing up one child while working full-time will also give women 18 percent more chronic stress. Interestingly, working from home or having flexible hours also does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to reduce the pressure and strain. Looks like we crapped out, ladies.

A stressful new study

Researchers from Manchester University and the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University in the UK recently analysed data from 6,025 women which looked at working life information and measures of stress.

What they found was this. The overall level of 11 indicators of chronic stress (including hormones and blood pressure) was 40 percent higher in women working full-time while bringing up two kids, than it was for full-time female workers with no kids. Meanwhile full-time working mums with only one child were 18 percent more stressed than childless peers. Makes sense to us!

Sadly, there’s no information about all those poor full-time working mamas with three or more young kids. We’re no experts but let’s take a stab and predict it’s something like an extra 95 percent on the stress level stakes.

Study during maternity leave

Working remotely means jack

But what about when mums with kids have more flexible working arrangements? That’s got to be good, right? Well, the study did find that women bringing up two children who work fewer hours (such as part-time work) had chronic stress levels 37 percent lower than those working in jobs where flexibility wasn’t an option.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting. Researchers found that even those that did have flexibility around WHEN and WHERE they worked (such as from home), but still worked the same amount of full-time hours, still had the same amount of stress that other full-time working mums chained to the office experience.

“There was little evidence that flexplace or flextime working arrangements were associated with lower chronic stress responses.” Professor Tarani Chandola.

Not surprisingly, men also were found to have lower stress levels if they reduced their work hours.

Stress bad for mums

According to the study researchers, the stress and strain put on working mums could be damaging to their relationships, family life and their health.

“Work-family conflict is associated with increased psychological strain, with higher levels of stress and lower levels of wellbeing,” say the researchers. “Parents of young children are at particular risk of work-family conflict.”

“Working conditions that are not flexible to these family demands, such as long working hours, could adversely impact on a person’s stress reactions,” they added. “Repeated stressful events arising from combinations of social and environmental stressors and major traumatic life events result in chronic stress, which in turn affects health.”

Mum Stereotypes that can Bite the Dust

More options for less hours needed

Essentially what the study tells us is this. If we don’t want to burn out and compromise our personal lives, then working mums need to work less hours.

“Flexible work practices are meant to enable employees to achieve a more satisfactory work-life balance which should reduce work-family conflict,” says Professor Tarani Chandola, one of the researchers.

“The use of such reduced hours flexible work arrangements appeared to moderate some of the association of family and work stressors – but there was little evidence that flexplace or flextime working arrangements were associated with lower chronic stress responses.”

Unfortunately, while the idea of mums working fewer hours is is great in theory, not all employers offer this option. Or are prepared to make it financially worthwhile!

Give us a break already

So listen up guys. Maybe it’s time to give your baby mama a massage and hall pass from housework for a while hey?! And if you’re a boss, try this. Why not let all the mums on your staff have a half day Friday or something and pay decent wages for part-time work.

Science says we need a break!

Feeling stressed? You might need one of these new stress busting adult LEGO sets. Or perhaps it’s time for another girl’s night out – research confirms it’s critical for our health and happiness – amen to that!

Avatar of Susan Taylor

Susan is a Sydney based writer and mum of three highly energetic boys who keep her firmly on her toes (and slightly bonkers). When she’s not writing or trying to keep it all together she’s probably reading, watching Netflix or having a sneaky massage.

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