Researchers between two universities released a study Tuesday showing mothers are paying the ultimate price when it comes to caring for their babies.

According to researchers from Oklahoma State University and Arizona State University, mothers experience “less satisfaction with their lives and their partnerships.”

Lucia Ciciolla, assistant professor of psychology at OSU, helped co-author the study that indicated keeping the home “running smoothly” comes at a price.

“Even though women may be physically doing fewer loads of laundry, they continue to hold the responsibility for making sure the detergent does not run out, all the dirty clothes make it into the wash and that there are always clean towels available,” Ciciolla said. “Women are beginning to recognize they still hold the mental burden of the household, even if others share in the physical work, and that this mental burden can take a toll.”

Often times, the mother’s workload is referred to as “invisible labor,” which Ciciolla said consists of planning, coordinating and monitoring any and every aspect of their child’s lives to make sure what needs to happen is happening.

“We consider it to be invisible because it is often this internal mental checklist of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and how it needs to be done,” Ciciolla said. “We also consider it invisible, because it doesn’t tend to get the recognition that it deserves.”

The study, according to a release from OSU, received surveys from 393 American women, either married or in a committed relationship with children under legal age. The release states the study “measured the division of household labor by asking who was in charge of organizing the family’s schedules, fostering children’s well-being and making major financial decisions.”

The study also focused on how these tasks affected satisfaction, reports show.

“Not so surprisingly, we found that women overwhelmingly felt that they were primarily responsible for managing the household,” Ciciolla said. “It was a bit surprising to find that a fairly large percentage of the women felt that they were solely responsible for the well-being of their children.

“Although the job of instilling values in children was generally reported as being shared equally between parents, a majority of the women reported they alone shouldered important tasks like getting to know children’s teachers or being aware of children’s emotional needs. These women who were the ones primarily ensuring children’s well-being reported more feelings of emptiness with their life situation. They were also less satisfied with their lives overall and less satisfied with their partners.”

The study aims to “create a more equitable balance” for mothers.

For more information, contact Dr. Lucia Ciciolla at lucia.ciciolla@okstate.edu or visit camplab-ok.com.