05/18/2012 03:47 pm ET Updated Jul 18, 2012

Mother's Day Is Over, and Many Moms Still Struggling

New Gallup polling suggests the joys of motherhood can bring added challenges. Employed women without kids at home experience less worry, sadness, stress, and anger than moms of kids at home, be they currently employed or not. Moms, by contrast, report more struggles.

But the most striking finding is how much stay-at-home moms in particular suffer. They are particularly more likely to experience worry, sadness, stress, anger, and depression than both employed moms and women without kids at home. And when asked about the previous day, stay-at-home moms were the least likely of the three groups to say they smiled or laughed a lot, learned something interesting, or experienced enjoyment or happiness. Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, stay-at-home moms are more likely to say they are struggling than the other two groups of women.

These findings don't seem to be driven by income. Gallup took care to make sure their stay-at-home mom definition did not include those unemployed but looking for work. And when Gallup looked just at women from households earning less than $36,000, stay-at-home moms continued to struggle more on all dimensions than the other two groups.

That all moms face difficulties is consistent with what my firm has seen in bipartisan qualitative and quantitative work on Walmart moms. (Read more about this work here and here. Walmart is the sponsor of all Walmart mom research, conducted jointly by Momentum Analysis and Public Opinion Strategies.) The moms we've talked to (both stay-at-home and working) often feel overwhelmed by the daily struggles and worries that come with parenthood, leaving them little time to focus on politics. And recall other recent Gallup findings show stay-at-home moms tend to be politically independent. Taken altogether, these data suggest candidates hoping to reach moms will need to reach out to them more frequently, and specifically address how policies can directly improve their lives.