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More stress for working moms?

Categories: Career, The Juggle, Working? Living?


It’s no secret that working moms are under a great deal of pressure. Our own Work It, Mom! survey of 400 breadwinning working mothers found that 73 percent worked full-time outside the home, and 68 percent found it stressful — with many becoming resentful of having to support their households.

The recession isn’t making it any easier. Several surveys have come out recently, trying to gauge the effect the economy has had on work-life balance in general, and working mothers in particular. As you’ve probably guessed, the results aren’t pretty.

We often say there’s really no such thing as work-life balance; it’s more of a juggle and, from time to time, you have to forget about keeping all of those balls up in the air and just try to catch them as they fall. But guilt is still a factor, according to a recent survey by Splenda. The survey of more than 1,000 moms in the United States with children under 18 was meant to focus on wellbeing, health and nutrition, but it also found that 61 percent of working moms say that it’s difficult to achieve “a comfortable work-life balance” — and 64 percent of those moms say they sometimes feel guilty about it.

Another study, this one by US staffing company Adecco Group, asked working moms about the impact that the recession is having on their work-life balance (or lack thereof). Eighty percent of the women who participated in Adecco’s Workplace Insight Survey said that they work because they have to, not because they want to — and almost half of them (48 percent) are more stressed than before, with 16 percent adding that their work hours have increased because of the bad economy.

Sixty-five percent of them are cutting their budgets at home but, in spite of that, 19 percent admitted to overcompensating for the lack of time with their kids by lavishing them with material goods instead. And while nearly half said they wish they could spend more time with their kids, 30 percent say they are overwhelmed by their responsibilities at home.

So what to do about it?

There are no easy answers, but there are lots of places to start. Traci Feit Love, who writes The Breadwinner Mom, offers up five survival tips. A few months ago I identified one of my biggest demons — feeling overwhelmed – and offered up a few ways to cope. And, of course, finding a great community of like-minded people can help in myriad ways, from offering support to tips to a safe place to vent.

How are you coping with the recession? What is stressing you out the most — and how are you handling it?

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3 comments so far...

  • I am the Breadwinner, like so many others, and my husband is the stay at home. My coping skills may not work for everyone else, but they do for me…and in a REALLY BIG way…..We have made a conscience effort to be happy with what we have and not be concerned about what we can’t afford. So, instead of shopping with & for the kids….we take them to the park, pack a picnic, turn off the cell phone and play (something I am NOT good at as I am distracted by work always…but trying to get better). My “quality time” with my kids is cooking w/them on the weekends. It takes us an hour to make dinner, set the table, what have you. But the hour is just about providing something good for them, teaches them a life skill, and gives us time to talk…and turn off the cell phone (big issue for me). My kids, that’s my coping skill.

    Cathy  |  May 11th, 2009 at 10:27 am

  • My workload has definitely increased in the past year - the product of a company taking advantage of the persistent fear that anyone could be the next company to fold.

    And I’m definitely overwhelmed. I used to love my job, but workplace dynamics and new, responsibilities, not necessarily relevant to my position have made me resent the fact that I have to work.

    The thing that stresses me the most is just trying to find a moment to relax before midnight. I’m up at 4 each morning so I can get in a half an hour of stretching and either run or calisthenics (can’t afford a gym membership and don’t really want one, but I need to work out to lose this persistent baby weight and build up an energy reserve).

    After that, it’s shower, make lunch for myself for the day and leave for work at 530am. From there, I work until 3pm, get home between 330 and 4 and take over from my husband who stays home with our 13 month old.

    As soon as she goes down for quiet time, it’s time to get dinner ready. She’s usually back up and out while I’m still cooking and wants my attention - to the point where she’ll wedge herself between me and the counter, with her arms outstretched, saying, “Up! Up!” Her father usually steps in, but that’s not always agreeable for her.

    After dinner, it’s time to clean the kitchen, get the baby her bath and start our bedtime routine.

    She goes down around 8pm and then, it’s time to start housework. I forgive my husband for not getting much done during the day - she’s a handful, energetic and into everything. When the house is tidied up enough, I log on and go back to work from home. I’ve been known to fall asleep on the couch with my laptop patiently awaiting more input…

    Frankly, I find myself surfing this site and others at work just to break from the routine. I don’t know. I don’t understand those mothers who appear so polished and put together. I don’t know how they do it, especially with multiple children.

    Phe  |  May 12th, 2009 at 7:13 am

  • Thanks for mentioning my article, Lylah - I’m glad you found it to be a good resource. It’s unfortunate but true that working moms are a stressed-out bunch these days (including me).

    I think one additional piece of advice I have to offer is to stay in the moment whenever possible. So much stress seems to come from worrying about the future, or feeling guilty about what’s happened in the past.

    Try this: next time something good is happening (even something small - your baby is smiling, you’re getting good feedback on a work project, you’re enjoying your favorite tv show), refuse to let your mind wander. Breathe in the moment and enjoy everything about it. It won’t change the fact that you have dinner to cook and bills to pay, but I find that it makes the hard parts easier when you’re able to fully enjoy the good stuff.

    Traci Feit Love  |  May 14th, 2009 at 10:34 am