Whether you’re sniffling through the final days of maternity leave, or feeling a swell of anxiety as a family-filled holiday break comes to an end, the guilt working moms feel is all too real. Despite the fact that 70 percent of moms with kids at home work, most of those mamas worry at some point: Will my kids be ok? Is my job hurting them? (Spoiler: yes—and no!)
Here’s the good news for all moms and families: research shows babies and kids of moms who work wind up just as happy in adulthood as kids with stay-at-home moms. (Translation: whichever choice you make is a fabulous one, and there are benefits to both paths.) For the working mamas who need more than a pep talk to ease their doubts, here’s a little science to show you everything will be better than ok next time you kiss your little goodbye:
- Research shows working during your kiddos infancy and early childhood has no measurable impact on how your little will learn, socialize, or behave, according to a meta-analysis of 69 studies over 50 years.
- Daughters of working moms are 1.21 times more likely to be employed in adulthood, 1.29 times more likely to supervise others at work, and earn an average of $1,880 more money per year than daughters of stay-at-home moms, found a study published by Harvard researchers in the journal Work, Employment and Society.
- Research shows sons of employed mamas are affected in nonworking ways: they spend seven and a half more hours each week on childcare, and do twice as much housework as men who had stay-at-home moms. Woohoo, equality!
- The quality of the time you spend with your little matters more than the sheer number of minutes you spend together—research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that in childhood and adolescence, the amount of time moms spent with their kids had no impact on their behavior, emotions, or academics. (Good, quality time spent together has the greatest impact on positive outcomes.)
The takeaway? Whether you decide to stay at home or head to work has less of an impact on your little than you may think. In fact, what works best for you and your family is probably best for your baby, too. Deep breath—we’ve all got this.