For those in the rush hour of life, things aren’t slowing down. According to a new Pew Research Center study, more than half of working parents find it hard to balance work and family, and women are struggling more than men: One in five working moms say it’s not just difficult, but very difficult, to balance the two, versus 12% of working dads. And mothers are twice as likely as fathers to say parenthood has hurt their career.
But one group in the study appeared to emerge at least moderately content: moms who work part-time. They’re more likely to take the juggling act in stride (only 11% of them say it’s “very difficult” to balance work life and home life) and they’re also more likely to be satisfied with the amount of time they spend with their children.
That full-time working moms feel stretched for time they’d prefer to devote to their kids is not surprising. As for the non-employed moms, you might think even more of them would be satisfied, considering many of them gave up work or didn’t take it up in order to be with their families. (Apparently some are still not getting as much time with the kids as they’d hoped—while perhaps others are getting more than they’d expected.) In any case, the part-timers seem to be closest to the sweet spot.
Part-time work had other advantages. While 40% of full-time working moms report “always” being rushed, only 29% of part-timers did, which is the same exact figure reported by moms who don’t work outside the home.
Meanwhile, 44% of full-time working moms say they see “too little” of their partners, compared to 34% of stay-at-home moms. Only 27% of moms involved in part-time work had the same complaint.
But in the midst of balancing their responsibilities at work or to their families, no group seemed to have enough time for themselves or their friends.
The survey, conducted from Sept. 15-Oct. 13, found seismic shifts from 45 years ago: 46% of parents in two-parent households both work today, compared to 31% in 1970. Only 26% of households have a father working full time and a mother at home, compared to 46% back then.
When both parents work, 59% say they share chores equally, while 31% say the mother does more, and 9% say the father does more. Here’s how it breaks down, with “activities” referring to the work of managing children’s schedules or activities:
Progress, it seems, is not always a straight line.