If you’re a working mom, I’d bet A LOT to say that you have struggled with the reality of your situation.
The modern nature of motherhood is still very modern. It can be hard to discern the effects which working moms have on their kids. Luckily, the brilliance over at Harvard has done a fair bit of research on the topic. The things they found are fascinating, and the impacts I’ve seen have been reassuring as well.
Below are 5 ways working mothers are benefitting their children. These will absolutely alleviate some mom-guilt you may have!
1. Lighten the Burden
The cost of childcare is extreme. That cost is presented in either lost wages, or a daycare expense which teeters dangerously close to the cost of a typical mortgage payment. No matter how much or little your family needs in order to thrive, “more is better” is a generally agreed upon. Appreciating what you have is necessary for a happy life. But a little extra cash to oil your family’s wheels can always find a valuable investment to feed. Even if your job only earns enough to pay for daycare, you are buying more than just that.
Networking opportunities comes to my mind first! All those school “playmates” could be the spawn of your new best mom friend (in a similar situation as you, might I add). That daycare could be opening more doors for than one would like to admit. If mingling with the working world during those hours weren’t earning you money and experience, you are investing in so much more than what is obvious at face value.
2. Inspire Future Leaders
According to that Harvard study, daughters of working mothers are more likely to earn higher positions in their careers as well as higher income. This is largely due to their exposure to a working mother contributing to the household monetarily. By seeing Mom in the same light as Dad (traditionally, I mean we know the “women’s work” is pretty damn demanding too), they are exposed to the reality of equality. Expectations of modern society do not discriminate based on gender when it comes to looking for “handouts”. If a family doesn’t want to depend on social programs, they need to earn a considerable amount of income, regardless of gender.
This exposure has inspired the best aspects of feminism. Both men AND women are capable of leading a family successfully. This opens a window for girls who are told that earning income is a man’s job.
3. Broaden Gender Roles
The same study found that young boys with a working mother spend more time helping around the house. The well established gender roles place mom in a bad light. By challenging those roles, children are exposed to reality: Moms can earn more than just compliments on their cooking and cleaning capabilities. Providing for a household requires effort, and every aspect of a household can thrive with more hands on deck.
It was mentioned that men who grew up with a working mother spent an average of 7.5 more hours on childcare. This effect is one I have no problem imposing on the next generation of families.
Get out of the house!!! As much as we don’t always want to, we know it’s good for us. It can be very hard to leave your baby unwillingly, which is why we need to look at it in a different light. Time away, at work, is a part of your day to embrace instead of dread. Wear something white without fearing grubby hands all over it within the hour. Take your time reading or listening to books on tape during your commute. Use it to fold in a little “me time”, because the hour in between baby’s bedtime and your bedtime is reserved for a shower and chores.
5. Setting an Example
Work ethic is priceless. Or is it? Employers want someone with good work ethic, and these are the values moms are wise to pass to their children. Leading by example is the easiest way to teach children good habits. Monkey-see, monkey-do is the quickest and clearest explanation of a child’s learning process. Not to say staying home isn’t valuable (you’d pay someone else plenty of money to do it for you), but allowing your child to see you leave for work, come home from work, or working at home is a nice dose of reality. Contributing to the family and society is a powerful tool for many reasons. This is also a bargaining chip to convincing kids to complete chores. Mom does it, and we are happier because of it!
Mom-guilt is real. But we need to remind ourselves that it is not necessary! We are doing a great thing by working with out limited time. Whether it is preferred or not, this is a long-term teaching opportunity for those we love most. It’s an amazing thing we can do which doesn’t require additional effort on our part. We’re already moms and we’re already working!
Are there any other points I should have mentioned? I want to know how you handle your job on top of your position in the family!