5 Questions New Working Parents Should Ask Themselves
August 21, 2018 § Leave a comment
With Jackie Coleman
The demands of both work and parenting are rising. While working hours globally are falling (partially due to aging populations), those employed full-time are often working more. In the U.S., for example, full-time employees are working 47 hours per week, and four in 10 people work more than 50. And the bifurcation of those working both more and less is growing — with marked increases in those working “extreme” hours, particularly in high-skill professions. In addition, according to the World Bank, women now constitute 40%–50% of the workforce in many countries around the world, meaning work outside the home is impacting men and women more equally.
But we are also parenting more. Researchers at UC Irvine found that parents in 11 countries spend nearly twice as much time with their kids as they did 50 years ago, with moms spending almost an hour more each day than in 1965 and dads spending nearly an hour each day with kids (as compared with 15 minutes in 1965). Pew has found that dads now see parenting as being just as central to their identities as moms do (though moms still parent more), and households with kids are now 66% dual-income, versus 49% in 1970. It is no surprise, given these time commitments, that 50%–60% of parents find work-life balance difficult.
When we decided to start a family years ago, our lives were very different. We slept in. We had more free time. We had different jobs and different working hours. Our financial situation was simpler. Our decision to become parents has been worth every trade-off, but it changed nearly everything in our working and personal lives. We’ve seen other couples experience the same shifts, through Jackie’s prior work as a marriage counselor and John’s experience as an executive. And based on that personal and professional experience, we encourage working couples who are new to parenting or are considering becoming parents to start the conversation by asking five questions.