Should I work and build a career outside the home in addition to being a mother or do work as a stay at home mom?
I remember watching, sometime back, this huge debate on Oprah about working moms vs. stay at home moms – literally which one was better. It was almost like watching a war…In each camp, these ladies were staunchly defending their position, their life choice and unafraid to throw their harsh judgments at the opposing group. It was disturbing to watch. And what was most
disturbing, was that neither side came out a winner.
There is no winner is this debate, because the choice to either stay at home with your children or combine motherhood with a job is purely individual. It is as specific to each person as anything else in life so it is clear that we cannot rely on societal expectations or norms to make this decision for us. We must go inside and ask ourselves what is right for us and, most importantly,
listen to and heed the answer.
In 2007, Oprah.com polled its mom viewers about the pros and cons of working outside the home versus staying at home with children. There were some surprising findings that are still really relevant today:
- Both groups were, on the whole quite satisfied with the job they were
doing, as parents.
- Working moms were 71% satisfied and stay at home moms, 80%.
- When asked if they could describe their children as happy, 93% of working moms
said yes and stay at home moms 97%.
- Both felt that their choices, on a moderate
level, were causing them to feel like they were cheating or failing themselves.
- Working moms felt this way 62% of the time, while stay at home moms felt this way 55% of the time.
- When asked “Do you feel selfish when you consider your needs for personal or professional
fulfillment?” Working moms said yes 55% of the time, while stay at homemoms said yes 54% of the time.
- Neither felt prepared for what they were now having to navigate as a mother. Working
moms felt this way 52% of the time, while stay at home moms 56%.
- Both felt it was possible to give 100% to motherhood and a career. 61% of working moms believed this to be so, while 71% of stay at home moms did.
- When asked to describe their overall mood as parents, both groups described this as “hectic, but content”. With working moms at 41% and stay at home moms 36%.
So what does all this mean? From the statistics, it looks like each group of moms are pretty content with their lives on the whole, although seem to be suffering from “the grass is greener over there” syndrome! It does seem that working moms were a bit less satisfied on the whole, but you can see that both groups seem to yearn for what the other had, whether it was more money, personal fulfillment, opportunity to stay at home with their kids, etc..
No matter what your reasons are to have made the choices you have made as a mother, the real work is making the best of it. And not even making the best of it, thriving in life…being happy!
So many moms, find themselves focusing on what isn’t working, thereby enforcing a “look for the negative” kind of vicious cycle. Negativity builds on negativity. When we stop using our time and energy looking at what we don’t have, we open the door to begin shifting our perspective toward what we do have, or what IS working. The women polled in both groups were actually quite satisfied with the job they were doing as mothers, they both felt, at a very high percentage, that their children were happy, and they also both strongly believed that giving 100% to both a career and family was possible. Sounds like we have TWO winning teams!
My advice for all of us moms out there is this:
Begin to notice what you are thinking about and what you are predominantly talking about…is it the hard stuff, the challenges, what you don’t have or is it how good things are going, how blessed you are, what you do have. Making the shift to the positive will positively change your life and thelives of your children.
And if you do the work and still find that your dissatisfaction and disappointment is hard to shake, go inside and ask yourself if you have made the right decisions for you. Maybe you need to reevaluate your priorities or shift things around. Use your imagination, your intuition and find a solution that feels good. To use a Dr. Phil quote..”If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Also, if you are in a situation where you must work, accept your situation (although not ideal) and make the best of it. If you are constantly dissatisfied with what life has thrown at you, you can never be open to improvements. Acceptance will give you relief, lift your spirits and open your mind to new solutions.
In closing, you probably also noticed from the stats how much the moms in both groups had in common! Motherhood is a
collective journey yet, as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, also includes many individual choices. Instead of engaging in the “who’s the best mother” debate, I would like to challenge all of us to support and respect the mother next door or in line behind at you the grocery store on her journey … because we are truly all in this together!