How Can Working Benefit Moms?
For starters, working full or part time can actually expand the way women see their roles in the world. "It's easy to get swallowed up in the responsibilities of being a mom," says Dr. Newman. While being "Charlie's mom" or "Mrs. Jones" can be hugely rewarding in many ways, having another side—what she calls "the 'you' before marriage and children" can actually help you maintain a sense of self outside the confines of your home and family.
Seeing through another's eyes
Another positive: working can broaden your vistas by exposing you to new views and fresh approaches on almost anything. Whether you're out to lunch or gathered around the water cooler, you're bound to hear differing opinions on everything from politics to peanut butter. Chris Rosati Yoos, mother of two and a full-time media executive says, "We have all kinds of people in our office. The ones fresh out of school help keep me young, and the grandparents remind me that it is possible to balance the responsibilities of work and family." The key is to take advantage and listen. The things you hear may make you a more well-rounded person (and parent too).
Give it a rest
OK, I'll be honest, sometimes I just need to get away from being a mom. "As with any project you're working on," says Dr. Newman, "you may be more effective at parenting when you take a break once in awhile." For many of us, work provides this much needed rest from the parenting routine. "I enjoyed being a mom once I went back to work," laughs Karen Hawley, mother of 3. For Karen and many like her, the stimulation and time away from home gives her a renewed energy and desire to spend quality time with her family when she's not working. "Even if we have a stressful time in the morning, my workday acts like a 'reset' button. By the end of the day, I don't remember the frustration, I'm just excited to see them."
Look good, feel good
Ever wish they made those superhero phone booths for moms? "It can be a challenge getting out the door in the mornings," says Chris Rosati Yoos. "In the long run, though, I know it's healthiest for me and my kids." Dr. Newman agrees that as hard as it is to get out the door unstained, looking good can actually do a lot to improve your self-image: "The simple act of getting professionally dressed and putting on make-up can be a real boost for your self-esteem."
Benefits for Both Moms and Kids
Finally, when it comes to working outside the home, there may be some benefits to the relationship with your significant other. Many working women enjoy the feeling of being able to contribute, whether it's financially, or just to dinnertime conversation once both parents are home.
It may sound cliché, but in the end, when you're happy, your kids are happy. In fact, your children's emotional well-being has less to do with whether or not you're employed, and more to do with how you're feeling about it. "Children take their cues from their parents," says Professor Garey. "Overall, families are less stressed when parents are comfortable with their decisions."