Why New Moms Quit: Going to Work After Baby

Moms who have a hard time balancing their work and family lives are more likely to quit their jobs, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. We didn't need a study to tell us this, but it validates what so many working moms of little ones already know.

Researchers studied 179 women from the time their babies were four months old up until they were a year old. The moms were asked questions to measure work/family conflict, such as: "How often in the last three months did your job keep you from doing things with family? How often did you miss family events?"

The researchers also focused on moms' health, asking questions like, "How often in the last four weeks did you not have the energy needed to get work-related or home-related things done? How often in the last four weeks were you sad or depressed?"

What they found was that not feeling well (can you say sleep-deprived?) made mom more likely to quit than, say, missing baby's first steps. "If you think about the experiences I've heard them talk about, it is the experience of that conflict -- 'I cannot get enough sleep, I'm tired, I'm cranky' -- that makes people think it's just not worth it," says Joseph Grzywacz, PhD, an associate professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and one of the study's researchers.

In fact, by the end of that period, 10% of the moms had quit their jobs.

If you're planning on heading back to work after baby -- or are already back on the job and struggling, check out our working mom's guide to staying sane and inspired. Now if only we could help with the sleep deprivation...

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