Working Moms Worry About 29 Hours a Week

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Did you know that working moms worry about 29 hours a week?

Apparently this is a fact, according to a new study out of Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. The researchers claim that working mothers in America, “are trapped in a cycle of guilt where they feel they are being bad mothers for going to work and bad workers when they put their children first.”

This is what they call a “double burden,” and one that so, so, so many of us are plagued with. They found that working mothers engaged in something called “mental labor” a fourth of their active and awake day. The term “mental labor” –in case you are wondering– is worrying about work and family in a way that can “impair performance and make it difficult to focus.”

This got me thinking, how many hours a day do I worry?

Yesterday I attempted to do the math.

I was wide awake from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. worrying about money and my career. At 6:30 a.m., after getting a little more shut-eye, I worried that I wasn’t making the best breakfast choices for my daughter. At 10 a.m. I was worried that I was already behind on work. At noon, I was worried that I was too tired from saying up worrying. I was worried that my work would suffer and that my parenting would suffer. I worried that when I picked up my daughter from school I wouldn’t be able to engage her in a fun activity or silly banter. Around that point I was worried that keeping track of my worrying was making me more worried.

I stopped. But I realized in this exercise that the fine researchers at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel were on the right track, but in my case they may have underestimated the time spent worrying. I think I could safely say I fret far more than just four hours a day.

In case you are wondering, dads also are trapped by the cycle of worry, they just do less of it. Dads reportedly worry 24 hours a week compared to mom’s 29 hours of worry a week. “We know that mothers are the ones who usually adjust their work schedule to meet family demands, such as staying home with a sick child,” Professor Shira Offer, who worked on the study states. “Therefore, mothers may feel that they do not devote enough time to their job and have to ‘catch up,’ and, as a result, they are easily preoccupied with job-related matters outside the workplace.” This just adds up to what almost all of us working moms deal with: the “double burden” and “the pressure to be ‘good’ mothers and ‘good’ workers.”

The subject of the life work balance is nothing new and I cannot even begin to calculate how many words have been typed on the topic, but when thinking of how much worry is produced from attempting to live a balanced life, without driving yourself crazy, is a subject worthy of the words. Studies like this may not help in immediate ways, but it doesn’t hurt. I, for one, will make an effort to worry less. Knowing that I worry more than a 29 hours in a week is wake-up call. I would so rather use that time working or parenting, oh wait, isn’t that what got me into this cycle of worry in the first place?

How many hours a week do you think you worry?