Kids get a ton of press for stressing out their working parents. Work-life balance is incredibly hard, screams one survey. You need to be a productivity ninja to squeeze it all in, implies another blog post.
And after having a baby last year, I can see why. From broken sleep to incredible amounts of laundry (babies are so small, how do they produce so much?) and a million other responsibilities, kids are a huge if happy time suck. But just because they demand a ton of effort, does that mean children end up being a net drain on your professional productivity?
A recent blog post from site Wise Bread offers a science-backed answer to this question, which is a nice corrective to all the coverage reminding working parents how time crunched and overwhelmed they are. In the course of a post explaining all the ways working parents benefits their kids and vice versa, writer Brittany Lyte points out that research shows parents are actually more productive than their childless peers, not less.
Parents are more productive
"Women with more children are more productive at work. Chalk it up to all that supermom multitasking, such as firing off emails while breastfeeding and baking a casserole for lunch. At any rate, mothers with at least two kids are most productive of all, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which found that over the course of a 30-year career, mothers outperform women without children," she writes, adding that "the correlation between number of children and on-the-job productivity is true for men, too. But it's even more pronounced in women."
Not only do parents accomplish more; they also generally make better leaders, she notes. "Parents tend to perform better in the workplace, especially in managerial roles, because they know how to multitask, cope with stress, and negotiate, according to research from Clark University and the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C. That's because parenting skills and management skills overlap," Lyte explains.
These are only a few of the advantages of being a working parent that the full post goes into. It also explores the positive effects of having professional parents on kids' life prospects. Taken together, all this research amounts to a powerful dose of positivity to draw on the next time you're scraping yogurt off the walls for the third time that day while trying to make it out the door for a meeting.
During your lowest moments, it might sometimes feel like combining parenthood and professional life is making you worse at both, but if you're starting to get overwhelmed, take a minute to recall that science suggests combining the two is likely making you better at both. (Which isn't to say that America and many employers couldn't do far more to help parents stress less, but that's a subject for a whole other post.)
Do you believe the studies cited here--has having kids made you a better worker?