‘Invisible labor’ is taking a toll on mothers, study says

NEW YORK — Whether it’s housework, helping children with schoolwork or keeping track of what goes on in their family’s lives, a mother’s work never ends. According to a study, there are also “invisible labors” that leave mothers sometimes under appreciated and exhausted.

Researchers at Arizona State University and Oklahoma State University conducted a study examining “invisible labor in the home” and how the distribution of the mental and emotional labor inherent in managing the household between spouses may be linked with women’s well-being and satisfaction in life.

The study observed 393 U.S. married or partnered mothers in mostly upper-middle class backgrounds with children under the age of 18.

Although men are seen participating in housework and childcare more than in the past, women still manage the household, even while employed.

Results showed a majority of women reported they alone assumed the household responsibilities, including maintaining order and schedules for the family at home.

Mothers were also linked to observing and managing the emotional needs of their child.

Women who said they were in charge of the household also felt overwhelmed and had little time for themselves, feeling exhausted. If they feel overly responsible or the “invisible labor” or running a household and raising their kids, their overall well-being could be negatively impacted.

“Until recently, no one stopped to think about mom herself,” said Suniya Luthar, Foundation Professor of psychology at ASU and senior author on the study.

“We need to attend to the well-being of moms if we want children to do well, and also for their own sakes.”

Researchers say mothers should also feel nurtured and cared for to have good mental health and positive parenting behaviors.

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