Pew Research: Working mothers increasingly want full-time jobs, but still working hard at home

The Pew Research Center released a new study today examining work and home life duties for both moms and dads. Here’s what it found.

From The Associated Press via Bloomberg Businessweek:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Working mothers increasingly want full-time jobs, and tough economic times might be a big reason, according to a national survey.”

“In the Pew Research Center study being released Thursday, researchers saw a big spike in the share of working mothers who said they’d prefer to work full time; 37 percent said that was their ideal, up from 21 percent in 2007.”

“The poll comes amid a national debate on women in the workplace ignited by top Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, who writes in a new book about the need for women to be more professionally aggressive.

“In “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” Sandberg argues that women have not made true progress in the workplace over the past decade and that they need to raise their hands more and “lean in” if they want to land more senior positions in corporate America.

“The shift toward full-time work in the Pew poll, however, coincides with the recession and may have less to do with career ambitions than with financial realities.

“Women aren’t necessarily evolving toward some belief or comfort level with work,” says study co-author Kim Parker, an associate director at the center. “They are also reacting to outside forces and in this case, it is the economy.”

Among women who said their financial situations aren’t sufficient to meet basic expenses, about half said working full time was best for them. Of the women who said they live comfortably, only 31 percent said full time was their best situation.

Melody Armstrong, 34, of Hampton, N.H., works full time and says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It works better for my family, and for our finances,” Armstrong said in an interview. “It helps pay the bills and we can enjoy the lifestyle we have. We need to have two incomes.”

Armstrong and her husband have six children between them, a blended family with one child off to college and a baby at home. She works for Double Black Imaging, a Colorado-based company that sells medical monitors. Armstrong says her company gives her the flexibility she needs to work her sales position from home.

“I do some work early in the morning or after dinner,” Armstrong says, and can adjust around her children’s school and sports schedules.

“Mothers’ attitudes — both for those who work outside the home and those who don’t — have changed significantly. Among women with children under 18 years old, the proportion of those who say they would prefer to work full time has increased from 20 percent in 2007 to 32 percent last year.

“When all adults were asked about working moms, however, just 16 percent said the best situation for a young child is to have a mother working full time. Slightly over 40 percent said part time was ideal, and one-third said staying home was best for kids.

“Guiomar Ochoa, 38, of Chevy Chase, Md., has two young children and works full time. She says she’d rather work part time but says it’s just not an option for her family.

“We just can’t afford to not have two full-time incomes,” Ochoa says. “We wouldn’t be able to do it otherwise.”

“Ochoa, an international specialist with the National Endowment for the Arts, says she’s doing her best to juggle her career and caring for her children.

“I’ve done a really good job of wearing my mom hat when I get home and putting everything aside as far as work goes and focusing on them,” said Ochoa.

“Most moms in the poll expressed confidence as parents. Nearly three-quarters of mothers with children under 18 said they were doing an excellent or very good job raising their children. Fathers were asked that question, too, and 64 percent gave themselves high marks.

“Other findings in the poll:

“—Roughly half of working mothers and fathers say they would rather be home with their children but work because they need the income.

“—Fifty-six percent of working mothers and 50 percent of working fathers say it’s either very or somewhat difficult for them to balance work and family.

“—Forty percent of working mothers with children under 18 and 34 percent of working fathers say they always feel rushed.

“The Pew Research findings are based on a survey of 2,511 adults nationwide conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 5, 2012. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.”

Bloomberg published a few hours later what I guess is an editorial entitled “Everyone more miserable as fathers pitch in around the house.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

“Mothers are enjoying no picnic either. They spend 14 hours a week on child care, twice as much as dads, according to a study released today by Pew Research Center. Moms are devoting an average of 21 hours at work, compared with the eight hours their mothers spent. They spend 18 hours on weekly household chores, down from 32 hours in 1965 while still almost double the 10 hours run up by dads. “

“This modern parenthood is a recipe for stress, Pew says. Only 16 percent of U.S. adults agree that having a full-time working mother is a good thing. Less than half of working parents say they have a good work-life balance. One-third of parents don’t think they spend enough time with their kids. “

“Things are better now but not completely balanced,” Kim Parker, the study’s co-author, said in a telephone interview. “Moms are carrying a heavy load. It makes for a busy week.”

Is everyone miserable as dad pitches in? Is it because Dad is pitching in and around the house more? Is that what they are saying or because everyone is working harder to maintain the same standard of living as before? I would think moms would be happy to have dad contributing more at home or is there more stress because he is working less at “work” and that’s why he is more available to work at home?

How does your life compare to what Pew is reporting?

43 comments Add your comment

[...] Pew Research: Working mothers increasingly want full-time jobs, but still … Posted on March 14, 2013 by admin Tweet Pew Research: Working mothers increasingly want full-time jobs, but still … “When all adults were asked about working moms, however, just 16 percent said the best situation for a young child is to have a mother working full time. Slightly over 40 percent said part time was ideal, and one-third said staying home was best for kids. Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

NumberOneMeme

March 14th, 2013
6:35 am

As a 47 year old WORKING mother AND grandmother, I can honestly say that I am stressed to the max. However, just like the rest of America, I do not have the option of being a stay-at-home caregiver to my grandchild. We really need the two Full-time incomes. It does make me resentful to know that I am the one who provides most of the care to the kids while my husband only pops in and out at his convenience. He is there physically, but doesn’t take responsibility for any of the caregiving. That being said, I truly believe that we will start seeing more and more YOUNG women suffer from strokes and heart attacks due to all the stress that is put on them. Men don’t seem to stress on making sure the house is clean and the clothes are clean and the dinners are cooked and the kids are bathed and fed and put to bed every night………..they (men) know that it is being handled (by the woman) and they are perfectly content to sit by and watch. Before I get blasted by some men – I know that there are men who DO take a lot of the responsibility, and I say GREAT! But, the majority of women live the same scenario that I am living and can fully relate.

Jeff

March 14th, 2013
6:44 am

Pretty simple actually. Give up as much of a % of the decision making power when it comes to household and child care duties as the % you want us to contribute.

You want us to contirubte 50% of childcare and household duties, give up 50% of the decisions.

b2b

March 14th, 2013
7:07 am

Men are bad.
Off to my mani-pedi before Ellen is on.

Blog topic for tomorrow: Pink or Red – which is more effective as a nail color

DB

March 14th, 2013
7:12 am

One of the things this study does NOT take into account is the economic and social context of the survey. It says that 32% now want full time jobs, as opposed to 20% in 2007. Well — DUH! Guess what’s happened to the economy in the years since 2007!! An economic meltdown, which has seen many families lose their homes and subsequent loss of job opportunities. Since 2007, many of those mothers have seen their family income decrease (or disappear) dramatically due to their husband’s job (layoffs, furloughs, cuts in benefits, etc., etc.). Does it say they WANT to work? Or that they feel like they NEED to work? They want full-time jobs, because the part-time jobs generally have NO benefits.

Also, I don’t see where the survey differentiates between mothers who had a job in 2007 vs. those who have lost a job since then and want a job. That would really skew the numbers rather significantly — the same 20% still want to stay home, but the additional 17% are probably made up of a great number of people who were working in 2007 but whose job opportunities disappears in the economic hard times we have been experiencing. So is it really an increase? Or simply a reflection of unemployment and underemployment? How many of those were working part-time or whose hours had been cut, etc, but really wanted to go BACK to full-time? You can read these studies so many different ways . . .

The one survey question that makes me chuckle is that 3/4’s of the parents feel they are doing a good job raising their kids. And yet, many of their kids are turning to alcohol and drugs. I suspect that a neighbor of mine who homeschooled and provided a deeply religious home life would rank herself highly, in spite of the fact that her child has been fired from jobs for drug use and has totaled his car due to underage drinking. I believe that most parents TRY to do a good job. Whether they actually succeed or not is another question, given our high school drop out rates and lack of parental involvement in low-achieving schools.

Kate

March 14th, 2013
7:15 am

Full-time working mom with a two year old and a 9-month old, and 60-mile roundtrip daily commute after my job was transferred to another work location. My husband and I are both in full-court press at home. He is a true partner and it’s still unsustainable from a stress perspective. My husband and I both have demanding corporate jobs that we are passionate about and proud of. It sucks that the “pay-off” regarding careers aka the first big break-throughs and major promotions, the first big rewards for “leaning in” typically occur in a person’s 30s, which is the exact same time most people have kids. This collision course is the biggest stress source. Somebody, me or my husband, is going to have to step back at work (or stop working) to get the daily family stress back under control, and that is going to undercut their long-term career opportunities and the family’s long-term finances. So you solve one problem to create another. The stress is just deferred from one side of the equation to the other.
The commute/traffic situation is the worst contributor to our daily stress. We are losing epic time to it. And that’s why the most likely scenario has us leaving our lifelong home of Atlanta. If Atlanta can’t get its traffic under control, then more and more people are going to make this same choice. We are looking at smaller cities in the region with more progressive city/transportation planning.

DB

March 14th, 2013
7:17 am

The one stat that does make me shake my head is the one that says that mothers devote 14 whole hours a week to childcare . . . wow. 14 whole hours. And they seem to think that the fathers were WAAY behind with “only 10.” Only 10? That’s only 4 freakin’ hours difference over the course of a WEEK. Why in the hell bother having kids if you are only going to throw them a couple of hours a day? No wonder kids are looking elsewhere for validation.(*sarcasm on*) Imagine, being expected to take care of one’s own children — oh, the humanity! (*sarcasm off*) It makes me crazy when people use “needing” a full-time job to support their “lifestyle”, and yet, they bemoan that very same lifestyle as being too rushed, disorganized, unrewarding and crazed. “Lifestyle”, in this case, being defined as “things.”

DB

March 14th, 2013
7:21 am

@Jeff: The ironic flip side of your argument: How about men actually take responsibility for MAKING 50% of the decisions, instead of wandering around and saying, “I’ll do anything you tell me to do,” — which still puts the responsibility for planning and recognizing that routine work still needs to be done. I mean, hello, does a man really need to be told that the laundry basket is overflowing or that the dishes need washing?

Mayhem

March 14th, 2013
7:33 am

I’m ready to QUIT working full time. I’ve been working since I was 14 years old, and I’m coming up on 54. 40 years in the work place, I’m ready to get OUT!!!

I love my job, been here a tad over 20 years, raised 3 kids with the same husband, their father, and I’m ready for retirement. I’m ready to sleep in, do what I want, when I want, and enjoy a slower pace. I’m tired of sitting in traffic for an hour to go 17 miles from home to office. I’d love to work from home, but I need to be hands on here, so that’s not possible.

HB

March 14th, 2013
8:01 am

DB, the Pew Center did say the economy is likely a big factor:

” “The shift toward full-time work in the Pew poll, however, coincides with the recession and may have less to do with career ambitions than with financial realities.

“Women aren’t necessarily evolving toward some belief or comfort level with work,” says study co-author Kim Parker, an associate director at the center. “They are also reacting to outside forces and in this case, it is the economy.”

Among women who said their financial situations aren’t sufficient to meet basic expenses, about half said working full time was best for them. Of the women who said they live comfortably, only 31 percent said full time was their best situation. ”

And keep in mind when criticizing the study, that you haven’t actually read it. This is a Bloomberg News report on the study, not the study itself. The Pew Center’s site probably provides the full findings which may include some of what you feel was missing. They really do excellent work.

Shannon

March 14th, 2013
8:20 am

I work full time and have a 10 year old. I only have one child because I wasn’t working full time and trying to juggle multiple children and their schedules and school work. Unless my husband could find a way for me to be a SAHM mom, I wasn’t stressing myself out all day, everyday. And I don’t stress out over the house and how clean it is. It’s neat but not perfect. I get done what I have time to get done and when I’m tired it’s a wrap. I’ll try again the next day.

(the other) Rodney

March 14th, 2013
8:23 am

Seems to me that if the husband isn’t pulling his weight, and the wife allows it, that’s on her. (not really – but kinda – I do believe that each parent should do as much as they can by their own choice, but some people do need a little urging)

My mother worked full time, as did my father, and she made dang sure he pulled his weight. We all cleaned the house – we all washed dishes – we all worked in the yard – they both doled out punishment. The only area my Dad didn’t jump in to help much was with homework, and trust me, we didn’t really want that anyway. :)

Techmom

March 14th, 2013
8:26 am

@DB – I’m with you there. My husband’s argument is always, “I’ll do whatever you want me to.” I want you to USE YOUR EYES AND YOUR BRAIN!” I shouldn’t have to tell you to put the clean laundry away, vacuum or to help with dinner. We eat everyday, we wear clothes everyday, we dirty the house everyday. No one is telling me what to do.

Now I know what Jeff meant because he’s posted a number of times on the topic and he’s saying, don’t be afraid to give up 50% and then don’t complain when you give that 50% up and it doesn’t get done YOUR way. Which I’m ok with. But I shouldn’t have to tell you what to do. My husband is completely content to get off work and sit on the sofa right next to a pile of laundry that needs to be put away (never mind the fact that I’ve already washed and folded it). I’ve learned to let it sit.

@Kate – I feel you on the stress of two working spouses+commuting+kids. It just doesn’t ever balance. One of you will have to give up something, there’s no way around it in our society. I got lucky and was able to begin working from home after turning in my resignation (they said no at first) due to being in a similar situation. That was 7 1/2 years ago. My hit has been slower progression for promotions and little pay raises that don’t keep pace with my co-workers. BUT it’s been worth it to me.

Aquagirl

March 14th, 2013
8:35 am

if the husband isn’t pulling his weight, and the wife allows it, that’s on her.

*Sigh* If the wife complains she’s a nag, if she doesn’t then it’s her fault for “letting” him loaf.

Men are not kids. A man who is capable of juggling complicated, detailed projects at work is fully capable of noticing humans normally wear clean clothes and eat.

I’m not snarking on you personally other Rodney, in your defense this helpless-guy syndrome is widely assumed. That’s why the Bloomberg headline says men are “pitching in.” It’s their house and their kids, why are they “pitching in” or “helping out?”

Mayhem

March 14th, 2013
8:36 am

Both my parents worked full time jobs while we were growing up. My dad travelled a lot, and Mom was home every night. Both were professionals. Mom has a Masters in Nursing, Dad has his PhD in psychology. Very highly educated, wonderful careers, but their family was also a priority. We took numerous family vacations and we did a lot as a family. I did that with my own family. Both my husband and I work full time jobs, we always have. But, we put the family first. We were home every night with the kids. He helped with homework, housework, etc. The kids always had chores. They were unable to play until the work was done. We instilled a good work ethic into our kids, and we are now reaping those benefits. It’s very relaxing in my home. No stress, no drama. Everyone works, and everyone pulls their weight.

I don’t think it’s right for one person to carry all the weight at home, especialy when both spouses are working full time jobs. we are a team, and we make the decisions together. I’ve never had to “nag” my husband to help out. He does it willingly, as that is his home and family also. It’s not mine, it’s not his, it’s OURs. And we ALL work for it.

Jeff

March 14th, 2013
8:46 am

Ya know, if there was a simple resolution, we would have figured it out by now. But there isn’t. EAch person is different and changes, each relationship is different and changes. Kids change, jobs change, needs change. They’re always in motion.

Some people suck. On both sides of the altar and in their own way.

I would really like to see all of these articles, shows, studies and conversationos start using the term parent instead of mom. After all, include us in the conversations as equals. Start by asking what YOU can do differently to have an impact on how others behave. Only you know what motivates those around you.

Sometimes your partner is a jerk. But you married them willingly, it wasn’t arranged. So you helped make your situation. I’m sure there’s something they could say that you don’t do that they have always asked you to do differently.

DB

March 14th, 2013
8:47 am

HB: You’re right, I haven’t read it, I’m only going by the summary report. The sop towards “economic realities”, though, is one of those little hedging paragraphs that a researcher sticks into a paper, while proceeding to ignore it for the rest of the study. Otherwise — what’s news, here? People are out of work or underemployed and want work? Well, THAT’S front page news, now, isn’t it? Why is that aimed right at mothers? It almost sounds like some sort of “Hey, look, women really do want to get out of the house!” It’s a social pressure similar to what women encountered in the 70’s and 80’s, as evidenced by that “Enjoli” commercial: “I can bring home the bacon and stir it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you’re the man . . .” where women were told that they could do it all, seamlessly and effortlessly. Ha. Is that why incidence of diagnosis of depression has doubled for women since 1970? And teenagers are the fastest-growing group in terms of depression diagnosis?

(the other) Rodney

March 14th, 2013
8:47 am

I totally agree Aquagirl – no arguments here. Both parents should be aware of what’s going on and work to make it better. Dirty clothes, housework, everything. Absolutely no argument here.

But as we know – not everybody thinks the same way. And we all know men and women don’t think the same way about the same things. A dirty faced little boy may not be as much of a concern for a man as it would a woman. Lord knows my Dad, for all he did, would have let me go to the store dirty. Wouldn’t have bothered him in the least. Now my Mom on the other hand, would stroke if I did. :)

I’ve said to many people in my life, professionally and personally, I’m no mind reader. If I’m not doing something to your liking, don’t assume I’m that way intentionally. If you don’t tell me, I won’t know. That’s not me being inferior or a child-like, just me being me.

catlady

March 14th, 2013
8:54 am

I raised 3 kids, largely without a husband. Oh, I was married some of the time, but he had no investment in much of it. And, yes, I resented it. Worked full time the whole time. Went back to work when one child was 21 days old, another was 16 days old. I did everything but the car repair, including the mowing (push mower), and running the tiller, growing a large garden, and putting up the vegetables. He could never see things that needed doing (although he could see them well enough to complain about them), or he was “too tired.” Asking for help (help? it was his mess tooo!) got me accused of “keeping score.” After 14 years I went it alone, and it has not been easy, but a lot of that resentment left when I made him leave. During the 26 years since, I have raised the kids, gotten 2 of them through college (and one master’s degree), put myself through master’s and doctoral programs with a half time assistantship, worked full time since finishing, enjoyed 3 weddings and 4 grandchildren’s arrivals. And, yes, I am worn out.

Theresa, I never saw the part about “everyone being more miserable.”

Real Life

March 14th, 2013
8:54 am

Most of the problems at home can be solved by better communication between spouses. When we married in the 70s we discussed division of household duties as both of us were working. We have stuck to that except for when my husband was traveling every week on business for nearly 2 years. At that point I gave up an activitiy I participated in weekly and used that money to hire a housecleaner to visit once every 2 weeks. She was great and did the heavy stuff and everyone else in the house had specific chores to do.
Parenting requires input and decision making from both parents. One often provides more hands on than the other–and that often varies based on work. If one parent is doing more with the children and the housework than the other then they need to sit down and have an open discussion–no arguing, finger-pointing or nagging.
And let’s face it—if one spouse is at home more than the other because of shorter work hours or shorter commute, then that spouse will take on more of the household duties. In many homes that is the woman—but that does not mean household duties cannot and should not be shared. Communication is becoming a lost art in many households. Open communication is not easy, it is a learned skill that comes with practice. And that is often key to solving many problems–at work and at home.

jarvis

March 14th, 2013
9:05 am

I make more than twice as much as my wife. I work about 15 hours more a wekk (though we are both technically full-time), and I help out as much as I can at home.

I did notice the one figure missing was the number of hours a week the men work. Funny….they have parenting hours for both, chore hours for both, and work hours only for the women.

jarvis

March 14th, 2013
9:06 am

My first sentence was supposed to say “I EARN more than twice as much as my wife.”

FCM

March 14th, 2013
9:18 am

“Man works from sun to sun; but a woman’s work is never done.”

See Proverbs 31

I cannot believe they are still doing studies on this. We will not find a solution, it will not change.

Most married men I know will tell you that their wives work hard. Yes, even the stay at home ones. They have told me (single Mom for 9 years now) that they could not do what I do with out their spouse.

@ Jeff…you know I luv ya and this is not aimed at you or any other male. I agree there are jerks on both sides of the marriage equation sometimes. I agree there are some great spouses out there that really help out. This is just my unscientific study of the males I have known (and worked with) for the last decade.

Aquagirl

March 14th, 2013
9:32 am

But as we know – not everybody thinks the same way. And we all know men and women don’t think the same way about the same things. A dirty faced little boy may not be as much of a concern for a man as it would a woman.

I hear ya—but the fact women feel like it’s their job is left over from the ’50’s notion if the kid looks unkempt it’s her fault. Which still holds true to some extent, if a man is grocery shopping with a dirty-faced boy he doesn’t get the same side-looks a woman would.

I agree with Real Life’s 8:54, communication is a lost art. Few couples sit down and talk about housework and who takes care of the kids. I discovered this when I was newly married and my husband explained how I was supposed to butter toast. Never mind we had no kids and both worked full time, he expected me to make his breakfast like mom did, right down to buttering the toast a certain way. We had “The Talk” and he manned up, so to speak.

Having said that I think anyone who hasn’t juggled household chores has a learning curve and women sometimes aren’t very patient with men who eff up dinner because they’ve never had to shop and cook. As long as my husband was genuinely trying and not doing the passive-aggressive approach–trying to wait me out so I’d do it instead—I didn’t complain. Much. :)

When you get right down to it, there’s nothing biologically disposing women to cook or clean, men are chefs and I saw 19 year old guys in the Army clean like a OCD housewife. There’s no housework gene, those tasks aren’t any different than what men do at work every day. Men simply don’t feel responsible and plenty resist doing routine chores because they don’t like them and know they can get away with it. That’s on THEM, not their wife.

Mayhem

March 14th, 2013
10:02 am

@Aquagirl – I was right there with you until I read the last two sentences of your post.

” Men simply don’t feel responsible and plenty resist doing routine chores because they don’t like them and know they can get away with it. That’s on THEM, not their wife”

Actually, it is partially the wife’s fault in that she ALLOWED that behavior.

HB

March 14th, 2013
10:06 am

DB, again, I think your issue is with the journalists, not the researchers. The is a news article, not a summary report of the study, which is on Modern Parenthood, not just mothers. In their summary, the researchers say immediately after the stat on changes in attitudes toward working full-time from 2007 to 2012 that the economy may be the main reason for the dramatic shift. That’s not hedging. Their findings were what they were — can’t change that. But they are making a point of saying that should not be interpreted as women suddenly wanting to work more just because they would prefer less time at home. They are correctly pointing out that there are external factors likely influencing their choices.

The report itself does not aim at mothers the way the news articles do. Moms are not the headline and their attitude shift is not highlighted in the same way (it’s the headline and first line of the Bloomberg story). Here’s the title and opening of the report summary on the Pew’s site:

Modern Parenthood
Roles of Moms and Dads Converge as They Balance Work and Family

by Kim Parker and Wendy Wang

OVERVIEW

The way mothers and fathers spend their time has changed dramatically in the past half century. Dads are doing more housework and child care; moms more paid work outside the home. Neither has overtaken the other in their “traditional” realms, but their roles are converging, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of long-term data on time use.

HB

March 14th, 2013
10:27 am

Jarvis, men had 42 paid work hours compared with women’s 31 in dual income homes. When paid work and home work are combined, men and women have roughly an equal workload.

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/03/14/modern-parenthood-roles-of-moms-and-dads-converge-as-they-balance-work-and-family/

jarvis

March 14th, 2013
11:40 am

Thank you HB. I thought that would be the case. The omission in the blog was deafeningly silent.

johnnny

March 14th, 2013
12:09 pm

If mom doesn’t want to raise the kids, she should not have had them.
Not marriage material, divorce her in a hearbet guys.

oneofeach4me

March 14th, 2013
12:38 pm

As to the article from Bloomberg, I think they are saying that “everyone in the house is more miserable”. Period. Then they are relaying that this is mostly due to the changing family dynamic which is why the next part of the sentence is “as fathers pitch in around the house”. I don’t think they meant people are miserable BECAUSE fathers pitch in.

I work full time because I have to. Hubby has been out of steady work for over a year now, just taking odds and ends jobs to help with bills. He does get the kids from school; but he is not to keen on cooking dinner, but the house will be clean when I get home.

I prefer to work part time as when I did I had much more time with my kids and I was WAY less stressed. Also, this would be even more beneficial for me now being that I have a full work load and go to school full time. However, right now that’s just not possible.

I must say though, even when the hubby did work full time, so did I. Now I realize that I really COULD have worked part time. Problem is, once you have two incomes most people start living like they are (earning two incomes), get used to a lifestyle, and see EVERYTHING as a necessity. Not me. At least.. not anymore.

missnadine

March 14th, 2013
12:45 pm

Gloria Steinem used to say: “I’ve never heard a man saying he he had to find a work/home balance.”. That was in the 70s… is it still mostly true.

K's Mom

March 14th, 2013
12:55 pm

@DB as usual, you hit the nail on the head about “lifestyle.” I work part time, my husband works about 70 hours a week for about half the income he made when we married (thanks economy). Our lifestyle is what we have made the sacrifice in, not our kids or our time together. I could work full time and pay people to do a lot, but we decided to take the financial hit, enjoy more meals at home, less vacations and I wear a lot of clothes that are 10-15 years old (Thanks Talbots for being classic and well made).

I do agree that husbands need to be more intuitive about doing things at the house, but I think that starts with their mothers, not their wives. My husband grew up with a mother that did everything for them and he has no clue how to intuitively do household chores. My brother grew up with a mother that expected his participation in all household tasks and he can and does do anything that my sister-in-law can do. So the moral to that story is, I am raising my kids to help in all areas of the house. My almost 3 year old can unload the bottom rack of the dishwasher, take clothes out of the dryer and put them in a basket, run the dust buster and so on. It drives me nut that I have to direct a 48 yo man in basic household tasks, but I blame his mother as much as I blame him and I am doing it differently with my two sons!

yuki

March 14th, 2013
12:56 pm

My husband and I both work full time. We both live less than 10 minutes from work, with daycare inbetween. I can work from home if I need to, like if one of my kids is sick. I enjoy my job, and I’m proud of what I do. Yes, it can be stressful, trying to get everything done. Honestly, I think I thrive in a crazy environment. Mornings are crazy, trying to get ready for work, kids fed and dressed and out of the door. My house suffers but who cares? My husband helps, but I feel i do the majority of taking care of the kids’ needs (dinner, bath, bedtime) as well as laundry, cleaning the kitchen after dinner, etc. If I ask him to help, he will but why should I always have to ask? We have someone clean once a month, but of course that’s not enough. I tell him that if we are going to both work, then we need to share things at home as well. Does it always happen? of course not. But it works for us and yes, we enjoy our lifestyle. The kids are happy and healthy and that’s what matters. We are putting away for retirement, college, etc and still enjoy nice vacations and family time. I can’t imagine life any other way.

Me

March 14th, 2013
1:38 pm

We have never really had these issues. If there is something that needs to be done, we simply do it. I, the husband, handle close to 90% of the cooking, we share the laundry duties although the norm is for her to handle the washing/drying while I handle the folding. We have an almost 18-year-old who handles vacuuming every other day. We do have Maid Pro visit every other Monday but other than that we handle the remainder. She and I both are in IT management and work far more hours a week than we like. We also have the ability to work from home should the need (or desire) arise. We have done this now for so many years that the youngest is a senior in HS. I just don’t understand why chores and child rearing cannot be a shared exercise between the parents.

q

March 14th, 2013
1:40 pm

Everyone only works for one reason-money. Those who sacrifce their kids for money simply love money more. You will find the time to do the things you love.

Jeff

March 14th, 2013
1:50 pm

FCM, it didn’t even cross my mind that what you said could offend me.

I’m curious, what does all of this teach our sons and daughters? They will think it is the norm just like what we saw we probably thought was the norm as a child.

Are we showing them a mom that’s always in a pissy mood? Or a dad that’s inconsiderate of the mom? Is that what we want them to remember?

FCM

March 14th, 2013
2:37 pm

@ Jeff you raise a great question. One of my daughters wants to get married, a career, children but a nanny with them. The other wants to have children but no spouse. I am working on BOTH of them (and their Psych) about this & it gave me great insight to them and what impact my divorce had on them.

The one that wants to marry can remember 2 parents in the house. She has gotten the impression that marriages are important, being able to pay the bills is important. When I asked why the nanny, she said because she is not inclined to come home and work herself to death like I do. She wanted the kids to be able to come home and interact with neighbors; and to be able to do some of the activities that she could not due to daycare. Thus she felt a nanny would be the best solution. She does want to be in the children’s lives doing fun things, encouraging them in sports and actvities. She has no desire to do laundry/cook/clean.

The one who wants children and no spouse had some interesting reasoning. Her first thought was she did not want to pick a “bad” husband. When asked to define “bad” she said one that leaves. She remembers nothing about her dad being in the home. She vividly recalls a time when we did not know where he was and he did not visit. Further discussion disclosed that she has watched me raise the 2 children and feels I do a great job. I actually asked her if I made it look easy! She said no, only that she can see it can be done by a lone person. She obviously has trust issues, which of course we are working on!

Let me note that both my children have a wonderful relationship with my parents, talking with them often. They have a good relationship with his parents seeing them several times a year. Both have said they want me active in their adult lives. I encourage them to be in traditional SAHM roles…I would prefer to have more leeway in my life for that. However, I also shared with them they need to be prepared to take care of themselves and anyone else who comes along. Single parenting can come along anytime…you could get divorced, the other parent could just leave, the other parent could die (they have a good friend whose dad died leaving 3 children under 7)….you just get no promises on that.

I hesitated to say any of this because I am sure to be slammed for it.

Ed Advocate

March 14th, 2013
3:35 pm

My husband and I both work full time and both pitch in at home. I out earn him by about 40k, and probably do slightly more work at home. It’s certainly stressful to manage two professional careers, a toddler (and we have another baby on the way), the house, pets, yard, etc., but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m proud of my husband and his commitment to his public-interest job, our kids, and making our lives run. We couldn’t pull everything off without both of us working hard daily. So no, I’m not made miserable by my husband’s contributions. I appreciate him for it, as he appreciates my hard work.

I would warn young men and women to choose wisely when picking a spouse and co-parent. You owe it to yourself and your future children to build a life with someone who will pull the load, no matter how you two choose to divide up responsibilities.

dc

March 14th, 2013
3:52 pm

After years of being told you didn’t do something right, or watching your spouse go behind you and “redo it the right way” will without fail cause the offended spouse to stop proactively contributing. I know some folks are lazy….but if your spouse isn’t proactive, it’s worth a consideration to make sure you haven’t caused them to become that way.

Observer

March 14th, 2013
9:23 pm

Have reared my daughters to be educated, have a career and always be able to financially care for themselves. That comes before marriage, children and other responsibilities that will soon encompass their lives. Comes from someone who was a single mother. Worked crazy hours to provide. Remarried and worked another 25 years, full-time. Love my career, love my family and what I’ve been able to provide to my family. Working hard at home? We fought that fight years ago and figured it out. A blip in the bleep of our combined efforts towards a happy household. My husband and I now fight over who does the laundry for 2 people. We talk about the crazy chaos we used to have in our home and miss it, kids are now reared, gone. However, we still have years left in our careers. Does this, or any article address mothers who have had careers and still reared their children to adulthood? Would love to share.

homeschooler

March 15th, 2013
6:46 am

@ FCM. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you encouraging your kids to be in a more traditional role. To me it says to them “you are my top priority and, given the choice, I would like to be with you”. I will always encourage my children to be educated and find your career path first. Then your options are wide open. I did everything in the “right” order. College, Graduate school, started career, marriage (to a hard working man) and then children so that by the time they came along my options were completely open. I could have worked full time days and done the day care thing. I could have quit work and we would have struggled financially a bit but it would have been worth it. I chose to work non-traditional hours and by shear luck or the grace of God was able to stay in my field of work doing so. Sure I could be further along in my career if I had not made my kids the priority but I feel blessed that I was able to have the best of both worlds. BUT none of this would have been possible if I had not made the proper decisions early on. Staying out of debt was also a big factor in my being able to choose. I think the unhappy people are not the SAHMs or the working moms but the ones who feel like they don’t have a choice. I know a LOT of women who went to college and started careers only to leave them and stay home with their kids. And I don’t mean for 5 yrs until the kids are in school. I mean 18-20 yrs at home. But they all still know that they could financially care for themselves if something happens. That makes a big difference. I also know women who did not get an education and stayed at home with the kids only to have dad leave which left mom with no husband, no education, no career etc.. I would never want that to happen to my child. For my kids I will be encouraging education and career path FIRST. But once the babies come I will definitely be hoping my children choose to have one parent home with the kids at all times.

FCM

March 15th, 2013
7:42 am

@ homeschooler, I have told this before you may have seen it. When my children were little they had dollies like other girls. They would bring them to me and say this is my baby. I would ask them questions. A no to any question got the response “That is not yoru child”. The questions “Are you married?” “Does he have a job?” “Have you graduated College?” “Do you own a home?” “Do you have money in the bank?” My parents thought I was crazy, that all children do this with dolls. I wanted early to set up expectations; one that they still keep in mind now. I know they still think about it because as they grow older the questions have been “What if I am almost out of college and get pregnant?” or “What if I were engaged?”

I think you made a good choice. I appreciate your words. Your right, my children are my priority, even if I do work 40 hours a week with a 45 min each way commute in traffic.

motherjanegoose

March 15th, 2013
4:35 pm

Lots to think about after reading these comments!

My Mom was June Cleaver, so to speak, and never worked outside the home. She was OCD about our house. My husband’s mom worked most of the time ( after I met her) and their house was not clean at all.

When we married, I thought I was supposed to do all the housework and thus I did. My husband took out the trash IF I reminded him.

When I started traveling for my job, I reduced my expectations with our house. Since I never recruited my husband, he did not really notice that he should be pitching in. I refused to be the mean mom ( that my mom was) and so I did not rant at the kids when they forgot to do their chores. Dad did not encourage them either. I could not keep up with everything and thus some things were let go.

My daughter is pretty neat and will pitch in and help me around the house. She gets after her Dad and reminds him to do things that he is oblivious too. This makes me laugh. I am tired of nagging, so I just let it go. FYI I would not have to nag if others would remember to put toilet paper on the roll or even paper towels. Should you put your trash in the trash can, under the sink, or simply leave it in the sink? My son is not too neat but he will dig in and get things done. Perhaps this is my fault, as I was not a drill sergeant with them when they lived at home?

@homeschooler, I too did everything in a sequential order. When mine were smaller, I worked part time. We did not have a lot of money and I really never thought about advancing my career and letting go of the household responsibilities. Now that they are older, I am able to pursue my interests. It has been fun advancing my career. I always kept my finger in the pot and so it was a natural progression.

@ FCM…my hat is off to you as you are doing this alone! Let me know if you want to get together some time for a quick bite to eat!