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SALT LAKE CITY — The news media often reports on new studies with the goal to present information that will make your job as a parent easier. So you can understand the confusion when two contradicting reports popped up just days apart.
The question at the core of both studies: Does being a parent make you happier?
A Gallup analysis that looked at more than 60,000 U.S. women — a mix of both working and stay-at-home moms. Researchers found stay-at-home mothers are more likely to experience sadness, anger and depression.
The second study was conducted by three major universities. Researchers there claim, contrary to popular belief, parents are happier and find more joy in caring for their children than doing other daily activities.
The truth? The Utah moms we talked to say it's somewhere in the middle.
While working as a lawyer, Tammy said she enjoyed having a simple way to measure her contributions to society. When she became a stay-at-home mom, she struggled.
"You have a job that you go to, you're out somewhat in a public stage, and all of a sudden you stay at home — and I felt like I just dropped of the public radar," Tammy said. "At the end of the day when you think, ‘I did five loads of laundry,' no one's saying ‘Yeah! High 5! Great! Way to go!'"
Despite the challenges, Celeste agrees with the right perspective, being a mother is a happy and fulfilling responsibility.
"Last night I was teaching my 4-year-old how to ride her bike," she said. "And just the pure joy on her face, and how excited she got at learning how to ride her bike — there's nothing more exciting than that."
Still, when you compare these two studies, and the different outcomes, it's natural to wonder: What exactly is the disconnect? But perhaps the more meaningful question is: What can make the difference?
Julie Hanks with Wasatch Family Therapy says there are five things all moms can do to feel happier.
- Secret #1: Take time for yourself An hour away, a night out with girlfriends — make sure you save some time to call your own. Take time to recharge and take better care of those you love.
- Secret #2: Find meaning in the mundane Whether you're a stay-at-home mom or working, part-time or full-time, finding a greater purpose in the day-to-day tasks can add more joy to your life.
- Secret #3: Remember your marriage Taking time to nurture your marriage or love relationship is important to maintaining happiness. Regular date nights and nightly emotional check-in time with your partner add to a sense of closeness and intimacy.
- Secret #4: Take care of your health Physically healthy people are generally happier. A pattern of physical activity, good nutrition and regular sleep patterns not only helps improve your mood and outlook, but it also provides your family with a positive example of a healthy lifestyle.
- Secret #5: Daily "get to" Raising a child can be so overwhelming and all-consuming that it's easy to let your talents and hobbies fall by the wayside. Holding on to at least one talent, activity or interest can help you remember that you're an individual in addition to being a mother