Women feel worse than men about after-hours work

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 29th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Women can have it all these days: a successful career and a happy family. The catch is harmonizing the two equally, and sometimes the tough act of maintaining a healthy work-life balance can take a toll on mental well-being. Between packing school lunches, conducting meetings, pleasing a demanding boss and shuttling kids to and from soccer practice, there’s hardly time to catch a breath.

A new study of 1,000 workers found that women felt guilty more frequently than men when contacted about work outside of the office.

It’s not that women can’t juggle family and work as well as men; they felt anxious whether or not the distraction interfered with family matters. Experts say it’s because women typically commit above and beyond to both worlds and end up feeling pulled in both directions.

As women take on more responsibilities at the office, obligations spill over into personal lives, causing disruption and feelings of guilt. Moms who work from home also see the lines between work and family increasingly blurred.

Researchers said the results draw attention to men and women’s different expectations for barriers between work and home. As women expand their roles to include both homemaker and breadwinner, the two often clash.

What’s more, chronic stress from guilt can have long-term health implications such as heart disease, obesity and other conditions.

So what’s a working mom to do? Experts advise setting up boundaries to divide work and family life. For example, ignore work-related e-mails on your phone until after putting the kids to bed. Designate hours when you are unreachable by electronic devices.

Delegate chores and enlist kids’ help at home. And take a personal day, if need be. That’s what they’re for.

Cut yourself some slack. Being a mom and an employee doesn’t mean you have to be a superwoman.