Women impeded by ‘supermom’ mentality

By Amy Wimmer Schwarb • Published: July 24th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Every working mom wants to have it all — a fulfilling job, a happy family, a healthy dinner on the table every night … But the best route to a well-rounded life can be a happy mom, and experts say moms are happiest when they lower their expectations.

An ambitious study from the National Council for Research on Women found that women who have a realistic view of what family life should look like are less likely to be depressed.

The study surveyed 1,600 women as young adults, asking them to rank how heartily they agreed with such statements as “Working wives lead to more juvenile delinquency” and “A woman is happiest if she can stay at home with her children.”

Years later, when the women were 40 years old, the researchers evaluated them for depression. The findings showed that stay-at-home moms were more depressed than those who worked outside the home. And women with jobs in the workplace were more likely to be depressed if the younger versions of themselves had expected the work-life balance to come easily.

The researchers called these women “supermoms.” And they found that women who headed into motherhood with more realistic expectations maintained a healthier mental outlook as they endured the trials of motherhood.

In other words, that quest to have it all might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Perhaps, as this study suggests, the most super moms aren’t the supermoms who falter under the weight of too many balls to juggle. They are the mothers who embrace the challenge, try their best and, aim somewhere short of perfection, and, when they come up short, try again tomorrow.

It makes sense if you think about it. After all, how much will you care in ten years if your kid’s fifth birthday party wasn’t exactly Pinterest-worthy?