Skip to main content

Survey: Working moms are busy, but happy

  • Story Highlights
  • Employed mothers are happier than stay-at-home mothers, study finds
  • However, 62 percent of working moms say they would prefer to work part time
  • Study: working moms feel tug of family life more than working dads
By Ed Payne
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- Mothers who work outside the home describe their lives as busy but largely satisfied, according to a new survey.

Moms who work are happier than stay-at-home moms, survey finds.

Moms who work are happier than stay-at-home moms, survey finds.

Despite the stress of combining motherhood and a job, such moms are happier with their lives than their at-home counterparts, but the difference is small, according to the study by the Pew Research Center. Eight-five percent of mothers with jobs say they're "very happy" or "pretty happy." For stay-at-home moms, the number is 80 percent.

The study, however, also presents a picture of women longing to work less so they can spend more time with their families.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 66 percent of women with children age 17 or younger work either full or part time. Among those mothers, nearly three-quarters work full time.

Sixty-two percent of the employed mothers in the Pew survey said they would prefer to work part time. That figure contrasts with the 80 percent of employed fathers who said they prefer full-time work.

"Working mothers ... are ambivalent about whether full-time work is the best thing for them or their children; they feel the tug of family much more acutely than do working fathers," according to the study. "As a result, most working mothers find themselves in a situation that they say is less than ideal."

Four women blog about their struggles on the Web site

Susan Wenner Jackson, a freelance journalist, recently wrote about returning to work part time nearly three months after the birth of her second child, James.

"I don't feel the least bit guilty that I'm choosing to work fewer hours and spend more hours with my kids," she wrote. "This feels like the most natural thing in the world!

"I realize not everyone is suited for this kind of lifestyle, or able to swing it financially ... But I believe more women should be able to choose this option if they want to," Jackson wrote. "For many moms, a return to the office is a return to normalcy and stability."

Another Web site,, takes a stab at "managing the chaos of modern motherhood" with common sense and a dose of humor.

"How are we supposed to have 'it all' when most of the time we can't even find it?" the site asks.

All About Jobs and LaborParenting

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print