Despite most moms in the U.S. working full-time (76 percent as of 2016, to be exact), there's still a societal expectation that they should also be in charge of the kids and the bulk of the chores whenever they're home, using whatever energy they have left. And to top it all off, they're expected to do it all with very little help, even if they can afford it.
If you've ever considered shelling out some cash so you'll have more time to spend with your kids or more time for yourself (we won't judge), but were afraid of being judged for it, let these new findings be your final push. According to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, spending money to buy time is WORTH IT, and working moms, in particular, stand to benefit.
In the study, researchers surveyed large, diverse samples of working adults from the United States, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands. All the participants were asked if they spent money each month to pay someone to do unenjoyable daily tasks for them (like cleaning or cooking) to increase their free time, and if so, how much they spent on it per month. They were also asked to rate their life satisfaction and report their household income, number of hours they worked per week, age, marital status and number of children living with them at home.
Based on the data they collected, researchers saw a link between spending money on time-saving services and greater life satisfaction, with working adults feeling happier when they spend on ways to save time than when they spend on material goods. The reason: Researchers speculate that using money to free up time makes people feel like they have more control over their days.
And for working moms who are pretty much working all the time, this can be very advantageous. The study authors write, "Within many cultures, women may feel obligated to complete household tasks themselves, working a 'second-shift' at home, even when they can afford to pay someone to help. In recent decades, women have made gains, such as improved access to education, but their life satisfaction has declined; increasing uptake of time-saving services may provide a pathway toward reducing the harmful effects of women’s second-shift."
Interestingly, the study also found that it wasn't the wealthy who benefit the most from hiring out help. According to researchers, there was actually a stronger link between buying time and life satisfaction among less-affluent individuals.
Even if you can't—or don't want to—spend money on outside help, one takeaway from this study is that it's time to put to rest the expectation that moms have to do it all, since there are actually benefits to paying for help. Plus, the expectation is damaging since it stigmatizes the women who do pay for help, and yet it disregards the likely reason women delegate their tasks in the first place (and it's usually not about laziness): They're exhausted and would rather spend their energy on things that are a priority to them, like spending time with their kids.