While people once assumed a mother would stay home to care for her children, the working mother is now the norm in our society. In fact, more than half the nation's infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are now enrolled in daycare.
Types of Working Moms
Working moms are a surprisingly resourceful group. Some work full-time during regular business hours. Others work part-time or schedule their shifts around a spouse's workday to minimize the need for childcare. Some moms even work from home.
If you're a working mother, a supportive employer is crucial. While professions such as teaching are well-known for being "family-friendly," an increasing number of large corporations are developing programs to attract and retain working mothers.
Effects of Working Mothers on Child Development
There are few issues that are more politically charged than the effect of a working mother on a child's development. While some research suggests daycare is related to higher rates of aggressive and anti-social behavior, there are a number of studies which state children who regularly attend daycare are more confident and independent than children of stay at home moms.
The problem with studies that attempt to pinpoint the relationship between a working mother and a child's development is that there are many interrelated variables in the equation. For example, a single mother must work or her children will face certain poverty. A mother who has invested several years of her life in developing a career may be much happier after a day at the office and therefore better able to give her children the attention they need. Of course, the quality of the daycare environment also makes a substantial difference in a child's development.
If you're considering going back to work after your baby is born, remember that a mother who successfully balances paid employment and parenting serves as an excellent role model to her children. She teaches her daughter that women can achieve their goals while remaining committed to their families. She shows her son that professional women can remain on equal footing with their male counterparts.
The Family Dynamic
Having a working mother in the house will undoubtedly change the family dynamic. When mom's time is divided between home and the office, other members of the family must take a more active role in household management. The father must learn to do his share of cooking, cleaning, and childrearing. Older children will often be expected to perform age-appropriate household chores. However, many experts believe this atmosphere of support and cooperation can be very beneficial for a child's development.
Minimizing "Mommy Guilt"
Motherhood is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, so it's only natural for women to occasionally question their choices. However, only you can decide what's best for your family. As a working mom, remember the following tips:
- Don't expect to do it all. Ask your friends or extended family for support when necessary. If your spouse offers to watch the baby so you can enjoy some quiet time, take him up on his offer.
- Accept your limitations. You're not Superwoman. If you don't have time to cook from scratch every night, that's OK. If the house is a mess, you can always clean it tomorrow.
- Don't allow others to push their values on you. There's more than one way to raise a happy and well-adjusted child.
- Make a "date" with your children. Schedule regular family time and treat it with the same importance as any work-related commitment.