Unhappiness is a vicious circle, often spreading to many areas of life and recycling in new forms. If you’re a parent, you understand this cycle all too well. Despite the once-held notion that children were the cause of Mom and Dad’s woes, a new study suggests that the root of the problem has nothing to do with them. The research, slated for publication in the American Journal of Sociology, reveals that the United States had the largest gap among 22 countries when they compared the happiness quotients of parent vs. non parent citizens. While this seems to confirm previous studies, researchers found that it was the lack of social programs and support rather than offspring behavior. According to the survey:
“The negative effects of parenthood on happiness were entirely explained by the presence or absence of social policies allowing parents to better combine paid work with family obligations. And this was true for both mothers and fathers. Countries with better family policy ‘packages’ had no happiness gap between parents and non-parents.”
It isn’t difficult to see the link between parent happiness and financial security in our culture. Parents are happier when they feel supported in the workforce and are able to spend time with and care for their children. Fortunately, the study promises that these issues are fixable. Take a look at the points below. They will help you build a happier home and protect your credit score in the process.
- Prioritize your job satisfaction. Employment is the center of the average adult’s life. It pays the bills—and, if you’re fortunate—provides personal satisfaction. For the average American, sub-par benefits are a primary source of unhappiness. The absence of these benefits are also felt in lost wages and unmet needs, two catalysts of credit damage. Avoid the latter by finding a steady position that provides:
- Paid sick leave. The ability to recover from illness and meet household needs is a major concern for every consumer, especially those who have a family to support. Falling behind on bills and other responsibilities can affect your happiness and credit strength
- Paid vacation. The average person doesn’t need a trip to Paris to feel recharged. Two to three weeks of paid vacation each year has the ability to boost morale and improve a person’s outlook—regardless of whether they have children. A much-needed break improves health and allows you to recharge without worrying about losing income and financial footing.
- Work/life balance. Surveyed parents said they valued balancing work and children over paid child subsidies. Establishing a work/life balance is critical when it comes to leading a steady lifestyle.
- Consider childcare costs. Women and men both considered childcare costs as a major factor in their happiness. The average family pays $972 per month in daycare costs, a hefty sum for any budget. Consider alternatives without sacrificing quality. Rely on:
- Flexible scheduling. Many companies now offer flexible schedules and work-from-home options, allowing parents to care for their children before and after school. Search for employers who value family time as much as you do.
- Family. Grandparents, aunts and uncles are valuable in any child’s life, and they may be willing to pitch in to you help you save money.
- Invest in yourself. 1 in 4 mothers admit that they haven’t done a single thing for themselves in the past 12 months, a martyrdom mentality that does more harm than good. Stress-related illness and depression are catalysts for unhappiness and medical bills, two things that are bound to keep your perspective and credit score low. Fight the fatigue by:
- Taking a break.
- Saving for your future. As parents, we are focused on our kids’ immediate needs 24/7, and we often forget about our own long-term priorities.
- Getting organized. An unorganized life wastes countless hours each year, especially where finances are concerned. A finely honed budget can streamline your life and protect your credit health at the same time. Download our template to reclaim some free time.
The bottom line: Parenting is tough, but there are ways to lessen the stresses and improve life for everyone. Consider how your satisfaction and choices influence credit health (and vice-versa). Establishing healthy habits is bound to mutually beneficial ties.