Why do more moms say they'd rather be working part time than full-time? Are we getting lazier? Less ambitious? Or just more honest on surveys?

Fewer moms see full-time work outside the home as the ideal than 10 years ago, according to a new Pew Research Center study. While the numbers from the study were interesting (at least, to geeks like me), the lack of explanation for this mental shift bugged me.

So let’s analyze it, WMAGers. Why do more moms now say they’d rather be working part time than full-time? Are we getting lazier? Less ambitious? Or just more honest on surveys?

My personal theory is that the Supermom ideal has been tarnished by reality. For years, many moms have been slogging away at the full-time fast-track, while still spending quality time with their children and doing the bulk of chores and work at home. It’s hard, and it sucks. They don’t feel like anyone’s getting their best effort–not their employer, not their family, and not themselves.

But staying at home isn’t the ideal for many working moms, either. It’s tough to balance the household budget on one income, and even tougher to get back into a career after a long hiatus. We don’t want to completely remove ourselves from the professional lives we’ve built for so long.

Hence, 60 percent of today’s working moms see part-time work as the perfect balance. Make some bucks, stay in the game, and still have a little more time for family and household stuff. Too bad only a fraction of us can actually swing it. But that’s another story.

OK, there’s my theory. What’s yours? I’m all ears.

Update: I’ve seen lots of articles written about this study, but just today I caught a Q&A on BusinessWeek’s Working Parents blog that gives a good overview of part-time work for moms.