Two important reports were released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on the mental health of UK mothers. First, the good news. Mothers who care for their families full-time feel their lives to be the most worthwhile when compared with the rest of society.
“Worthwhile” is defined by the Collins English Dictionary as sufficiently important,rewarding, or valuable to justify time or effort spent.
Compare this wording to its counterpart, happiness: contentment; the quality or state of feeling, showing, or expressing joy; the quality or state of being pleased.
Tending to the needs of children and home will not elicit feelings of constant joy and pleasure, neither will any job. It is encouraging to know women still value their contribution as mothers. They see the big picture and know the time they spend with their children is making a long-term difference. Children do require much time and effort. The old argument that our children do not need a quantity of our time, only a few minutes of quality time when the nanny or nursery is off duty is, thankfully, waning. In its place, mothers know their years with their children are ultimately worthwhile. In fact, the newest generation of mothers is more likely to believe one parent should stay home to raise the children.
Now for the bad news. If women caretakers view their role as important, where does that leave mothers in the workforce?
While women have always enjoyed a greater lifespan than men, a second ONS report found a correlation between women taking on the dual stresses of work and home life. Male health has improved due to less dangerous working conditions and lower rates of smoking and drinking, but women have not fared as well. Added work stress along with women’s smoking and drinking rates have narrowed the life expectancy between the sexes. Analysts are now linking the results to the responsibility of raising a young family while also earning an income.
Women working outside the home must juggle the demands of two full-time jobs. After putting in a full day at the office, it is time to leave work to start a second shift as mother, wife and homemaker. The modern feminist movement told women they could not be happy “only” caring for their family (and themselves). They must also please a boss and bring home a paycheck. The adverse affects are now being felt by millions of frazzled mothers.
Conservative Woman’s Laura Perrins responded aptly in The Daily Mail, “Ministers want women to work long hours when they have children, but these figures…indicate there may be public health problems as a result. There is clearly now a health interest in providing transferable tax allowances that would make it possible for people to stay at home with young children.”
It is imperative young children spend time bonding with their mothers. The stress of rushing out the door each morning only to be raised by strangers imparts serious health risks on our children. In order to bond with your baby, you actually need to…be with your baby. This fact should not be a controversial statement. A host of benefits result, including future mental health and the quality of future relationships.
With the newly released statistics, the ONS has put words and proof behind the feelings of the modern mother. Not only do children benefit from a full-time parent – mothers benefit too.