The Secret to Work-Life Balance: Less Work

Compared to moms who are working full-time, those who work part-time feel like things are more under control.

Jim Young / Reuters
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, versus 12 percent 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 percent 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.

Percentage of Moms Who Think They Spend the “Right” Amount of Time With Their Kids

Quartz | Pew Research Center

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, one might think even more of them would be satisfied with their family, considering many of them gave up work or didn’t take it up in order to be at home, but 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 percent of full-time working moms report “always” being rushed, only 29 percent of part-timers did, which is the same exact figure reported by moms who don’t work outside the home.

Percentage of Moms That “Always Feel Rushed"

Quartz | Pew Research Center

Meanwhile, 44 percent of full-time working moms say they see “too little” of their partners, compared to 34 percent of stay-at-home moms. Only 27 percent 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.

Percentage of Parents Who Say They Have “No Free Time for Leisure”

Quartz | Pew Research Center

The survey, conducted from September 15th through October 13th, found seismic shifts from 45 years ago: 46 percent of parents in two-parent households both work today, compared to 31 percent in 1970. Only 26 percent of households have a father working full time and a mother at home, compared to 46 percent back then.
When both parents work, 59 percent say they share chores equally, while 31 percent say the mother does more, and 9 percent say the father does more. Here’s how it breaks down, with “activities” referring to the work of managing children’s schedules or activities:

Who Thinks They Do More Work in Two-Parent Working Homes

Quartz | Pew Research Center