Why Working Moms Are More Stressed than Working Dads

August 12, 2013  |  
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The work-life balance conversation has focused primarily on mothers, with employers, policymakers and just regular women trying to figure out how to make it all fit. Even though fathers are taking on more childcare duties than ever before, a recent study finds working mothers find the whole thing more stressful than their male counterparts do.

New research that will be presented at the upcoming American Sociological Association conference wanted to shift the conversation from tallying who does what duties and try to understand how the mental work that goes into completing those duties actually worked. What the team found was that while the amount of waking time parents spent thinking about parenting duties didn’t differ (30 percent for both sexes), the toll it took did. That’s because when women thought about childcare, they focused more on the unpleasant, stressful aspects of it. Why? Because even in a world where the gender gap is closing in some ways, women are still considered to be principally responsible for the home, and are judged more harshly if things don’t go well.

Another thing that made working mothers more stressed out than their husbands was, well, work. While men thought about work outside of work about 25 percent of the time, women thought about it 34 percent of the time. The study found men are better able to compartmentalize the work and family parts of their lives, partly because having a spouse that runs the household gives them the time to. Women, on the other hand, are dealing with the flip side of mommy guilt. If they do have to devote work time to thinking about or doing for the kids, they then play catch up when they should be off the clock. Researchers say the best way to address that would be simply for dad to shoulder more household duties.

Does this sound like the way your life looks?

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