Should Stay-at-Home Moms Go Back to Work?

mom with girls

A new study is a potential boon to working moms: per the findings, the amount of time moms spend with their kids between the ages of 3 and 11 has no impact on their well-being whatsoever. That’s not to say spending time with your kids isn’t important, clarifies the study’s authors. But the quality of time, as noted in other studies, is more important than the quantity, and in fact, a stressed-out mom trying to eke out time with her kids might actually be having a negative affect on them, says the study’s co-author Kei Nomaguchi.

These findings are surely a relief to some working parents (although others are taking issue with the study’s methodology.) But what does it mean for stay-at-home moms, particularly those of us who have college degrees and are truly electing to forgo the workforce to be full-time moms? Were we just rendered unnecessary and obsolete?

Nearly all of the “stay-at-home moms” I know are actually working-part-time-from-home moms. They’re happy to be able to be home for their kids but their little ones are also not their sole job.

Yet they would identify themselves first and foremost as moms. And while most are planning on returning to the office once their youngest is in kindergarten, their ideals plans are to find part-time positions. Because they want to spend a lot of time with their kids, despite the findings of studies like these.

Are they wasting their degrees (which are in many cases graduate level)? Don’t they want to take advantage of this study’s findings releasing them from the often-tedious demands of childcare, which we all know is a minimum-wage job at best? For example, an ambitious and highly-educated working mom friend of mine is upset at another friend, who is “just” caring for her kids while her Ivy League MBA gathers dust. Shouldn’t she do something “more productive”?

It depends on how you define success and achievement, of course. American moms who elect to raise children instead of working are choosing their kids over the glories of a career. And maybe they don’t need to spend as much time with their kids as they do. But in many cases, I think this is a question of who needs who. People aren’t having kids to help work on the farm anymore. They’re opting to have them after careful consideration of what kids might add to their lives. And for the moms and dads who decide to stay home, being there and raising those chosen children is the achievement they’re after. Because whether the kids need us or not for their well-being, we need them for ours.

What do you think? Is staying at home worth it?