In a study involving about 50 nursery school children, researchers found higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in children whose mothers found their jobs less rewarding, or left them feeling emotionally exhausted, than those who reported more enjoyment from their jobs. Levels of cortisol in the evening were more than double in these children.

Yet for women who have low job satisfaction, the research suggests that placing their children in childcare would help to significantly reduce the stress experienced by their children. The researchers also found that children from families that were either highly expressive or reserved also exhibited higher than average cortisol levels.

The report suggests that greater support is needed for working mothers to help improve their job satisfaction and increase the availability of affordable childcare options. “Spending more time in childcare makes a big difference to the stress levels in children whose mothers have low job satisfaction,” said Dr Julie Turner-Cobb from the University of Bath. It can help protect children from the effects of their mother’s low job quality and emotional exhaustion. Ensuring that mothers of young children have good support in the workplace is essential for supporting both mothers and their children.”

Dr David Jessop, from the University of Bristol, added: “Improving the job satisfaction of working mothers means that they are less stressed themselves, and extending the availability of affordable and adequate childcare may not only improve the quality of life for the mothers, but in doing so may improve the long term health of their children.”; Source: University of Bath