This Strategy Can Help Working Parents Boost Their Effectiveness at Work—and at HomeBy Lea Waters, PhD
It’s 11:00pm. Kids, cat, dog, bird, and probably husband are sound asleep. I pad out to my home office in my blue fleece PJs and start my second work day—answering e-mails, reviewing reports, prepping for meetings, and working on my book as the manuscript deadline nears—pushing myself until I can’t go anymore or until a caffeine or chocolate craving hits and I indulge in a little benign substance use to get my second (or third or fourth) wind.
I know I’m not the only working parent who burns the candle at both ends and fears I might just flame out one day. Statistics on stress levels in working moms bear this out. In one study, 93 per cent of the women frequently felt under stress trying to balance a career with raising a family. A survey found that one in four working moms cry once a week due to stress. And a 17-year study of working mothers in Australia found that they are feeling the pressure of juggling home, work, and leisure time more than ever before.
Fathers, too, feel the strain. Compared with their fathers, today’s dads spend three times as much time caring for kids and do two times the amount of housework. In one survey, over two-thirds of working fathers reported work/family conflict and stress. One study found 38 percent of dads said they would take a cut in pay and work fewer hours in order to strike a better work/life balance. And all working parents are dealing with lower job security coupled with greater job demands.
As a full-time research professor and parent of two, I live these statistics first-hand. I know what it’s like to feel perpetually tired, to wear mother guilt like a permanent accessory, to always have my attention split in a million different directions, and to take longer than I planned to finish everything—be it a DIY home project, a professional goal, or just getting a haircut.
It took me two-and-a-half years to write my book. I thought it would take o