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Working Mums Vs Stay At Home Mums: Is There A 'Healthier' Choice?

10/04/2012 22:10 | Updated 11 April 2012

The debate over whether mothers are happier going back to work or staying at home has been reignited in recent weeks with the claim that jobless mothers were more likely to be depressed.

In a study by Dr Susan Harkness of the University of Bath, it was found that returning to work plays a pivotal role in providing a sense of identity and self-esteem for mothers.

Two mothers blogging for The Huffington Post UK have waded into the debate, with one working mum claiming that going back to work has kept her sane.

Stay at home mum Jai Breitnauer agrees that isolation is a "big issue" for new mums, confessing that the first six months after the birth of her eldest were some of the loneliest of her life.

"Time-out to 'be yourself' at work breaks up the intensity of full-time parenting" she admits.

However with public sector job cuts set to hit women the hardest coupled with plans to reduce childcare benefits, it may be that women may soon not be able to afford to return to work.

Dr Susan Harkness told workingmums.co.uk that "a continuing weak job market and current policy reforms are likely to push up the rate of maternal depression in the coming years."

This would be a disaster, according to working mum Wason:

"I like to think that being a working mother...paves the way for a future generation with a sense of responsibility" she blogs

However Breitnauer dismisses the idea that a working mother means a more physically and mentally fit mother:

"Try carrying a two-stone toddler and a baby up the stairs, while singing, several times in a 12 hour period. It's both toning and great for lung capacity, I assure you."

However Breitnauer believes the crux of the issue lies in perception of motherhood as an "undervalued" joy, and society's emphasis on worth as "tied to wealth."

"Mums are usually presented as frazzled, ditsy, and at their wits end" she blogs.

"This society places value on work, and modern feminist ideals about independence are often interpreted financially.

"This isn't just to the detriment of family life, but also undermines the most central value of feminism; choice."

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