Why Going Back to Work Might Improve Your Child's Skills

A recent study finds that children of working mothers have better "skills" than their peers who are raised by stay-at-home moms.

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A new study from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Oxford finds something surprising: Children of working moms might have stronger skill sets than their counterparts who are raised by stay-at-home moms. 

Researchers noticed that children of working women who spent time in nurseries had much stronger everyday skills, while children who received primary care from grandparents had better speaking skills. Both groups developed strong social skills.

On the one hand, these results might seem a bit counterintuitive: Stay-at-home moms may be able to better implement more intentional parenting styles, and their children might benefit from all the one-on-one communication from their moms. But it's also easy to see how children who spend time in day care might develop more independence, and it certainly makes sense that kids who are regularly in the company of other children would have solid social skills. 

It's not just about who is caring for your kids, though—it's about what they do with them. Not surprisingly, researchers also found that exposure to certain activities, like reading, telling stories and singing children's songs, also boosts skills. The great news? That's something your kids can benefit from whether or not you choose to work after they're born.

"We are delighted that one of first economic studies to look at the behavior of very young children comes out with positive messages about active involvement with parents, and shows that different activities promote different skills," study author professor Paul Anand said, according to a release from Science Daily

Ultimately, you just have to do what works best for your lifestyle and family. If that means staying at home with your children, chances are you can still promote strong skill sets by engaging them with plenty of activities and arranging playdates with other kids. If you're a working mom, take the study's ultimate finding—that when it comes to the happiness and development of your children, maternal influence is just one key piece of the puzzle—to heart.