Working Mothers Feel the Strain

The increase in unemployment has created a parallel phenomenon one might call over-employment, as workers who remain at a company take up the slack for those who’ve been let go. Polling for by Harris Interactive finds this burden falling heavily on working mothers.

Among women who are employed full-time and have kids under age 18, 30 percent said they’re working longer hours as a result of layoffs. Thirty-four percent feel “burned out because of added responsibility you have taken on as a result of company layoffs.”

Under the circumstances, it must count as good news that as few as 19 percent feel work “is negatively impacting your relationship with your children.” This matches the number saying they spend two hours or less per workday with their kids. Twenty-five percent of the mothers in the poll (fielded in February and March) said they’ve missed two or more “significant events” in their child’s life in the past year.

One telltale sign that work is not a joy for many working mothers: 61 percent answered “no” when asked, “Would you want your child to go into your profession when he/she is an adult?” Among mothers who aren’t the sole financial provider for their household, 40 percent said they’d be likely or very likely to quit work if their mate made enough money to support the family comfortably.

The strains working mothers now endure will tend to confirm the views of people who believe it’s better for kids if the mother (when she has a choice) stays home rather than working elsewhere. Fifty-percent of the respondents last month to a CBS News/New York Times survey voiced that opinion, vs. 38 percent saying the kids are “just as well off if she works.” Among mothers in the survey, an even higher proportion — 58 percent — said they think it’s better for children if their mother stays home. The influx of women into the workforce in recent decades likely contributes to the sense, held by 76 percent of this poll’s mothers, that being a mom is harder today than it was back when the respondents were children.