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Mon Jan 28, 2019, 02:15 PM

It is a scandal that working mothers are 40% more stressed than other people

It is a scandal that working mothers are 40% more stressed than other people
Chitra Ramaswamy

The only thing that lowers mothers’ stress levels is to work less – an option most women are unable to choose

A woman with two children who works full-time will be 40% more stressed than one without children. Photograph: Nick White/Getty Images

Working mothers, let me tell you something you already know and are powerless to change no matter how many mumsplainers advise you to try mindfulness: you’re stressed. Eighteen per cent more stressed than other people. If you are working full-time and have two children, that figure rises to 40%. For single mothers it will no doubt be higher still. Anyway, as if you have got time for this when even reading about the stresses faced by working mothers is like a spa day. You have probably been interrupted by now and are once again up to your neck in the un(der)paid, undervalued and unending hard labour of meeting anyone’s needs but your own.

According to the largest survey of its kind, analysing measures of chronic stress in 6,025 participants nationwide, neither flexible hours nor working from home significantly lowered women’s stress levels. This goes against common thinking that flexitime is the answer to the stress induced by what used to be called “having it all” and has now resurfaced as the equally mythical “work-life balance”. What did have a positive impact? Working less. In other words, the option most women are unable to choose and the one capitalism will never recommend. How stressful.

None of this comes as a surprise. I’m a working mother of two children under five, one of whom has additional needs, and I have never been more stressed. I work part-time from home and look after my 19-month-old full-time with the help of my partner who has two jobs with flexible hours. This is my choice; to earn less, parent more and have an impenetrable diary. I’m lucky to be able to make it. But it’s still stressful. Self-care amounts to pushing out a jet wee (a technical term mothers will understand) while screaming “Nearly done!” at the small crowd gathered outside the door crying. Although that’s a lie. Of course I don’t close the door.

So, what is the solution? As is often the simple answer to the most complex feminist issues: more choice. The chronic stress experienced by working mothers is the result of structural inequality. It’s a manifestation of how undervalued, unsupported and unfashionable the work of mothering continues to be. We live in a society where looking after your own child between the ages of one and three is seen either as a necessity or a privilege. That choice has been excised from one of the most significant experiences in a woman’s life, as the number of working mothers with dependent children has risen by more than a million over two decades, is not just a source of stress. It’s a scandal.


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Reply It is a scandal that working mothers are 40% more stressed than other people (Original post)
niyad Jan 28 OP
madamesilverspurs Jan 28 #1
niyad Jan 28 #2

Response to niyad (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2019, 02:58 PM

1. Reagan

contrived the myth of the "welfare queen", and it became a very broad brush that splattered women with outright cruelty. Single mothers, especially, were targeted, accused of being the cause of every fiscal shortfall in the nation, an exercise in which Gingrich gleefully excelled. Where occasional single fathers were heralded as super-heroes, single mothers were (and often still are) excoriated as whores who use their offspring as tools for accessing a luxurious lifestyle at the expense of taxpayers. Never mind that studies at the time demonstrated that the failure/refusal of absent fathers to pay court-ordered child support accounted for the bulk of children on welfare. Never mind the reality that those fathers' quality of life improved in inverse proportion to that of their children. Never mind the income disparity that compounds the financial stressors of the single mother straining to provide for her children. Double standards? Oh, hell yes! And if you still need proof, look no farther than the faces of Republican members of Congress; chances are that none of those old white guys ever had to go to court to plead that they weren't squandering their children's support checks on hot dates.


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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 28, 2019, 03:00 PM

2. most excellent points, every one of them.

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