Working moms still fighting to cram it all in
By JOHN ECKBERG
By JOHN ECKBERG
If the list of jobs appears endless some mornings for most working moms, that's because it is endless.
Dirty clothes to the washer. Clean clothes to the dryer. Wake the kids. Feed the kids. Unload the dishwasher. Reload it with breakfast dishes. Pack lunches. Get the kids dressed and out the door. Next up?
Fill the slow cooker with tonight's dinner. Shower, dress, then it's out the door in time for an 8 a.m. meeting, and a different kind of work day begins.
Working mothers, now in the U.S. work force in unprecedented numbers, are still grappling with the day-to-day challenge of balancing life and work.
Trying to do too much is a common affliction for most women, particularly executive women, says Mary Lou Quinlan, founder of Just Ask A Woman, a women's marketing consulting company based in New York City, and author of "Time Off For Good Behavior: How Hardworking Women Can Take a Break and Change Their Lives" (Broadway Books; 2005).
"Baby boomer women have bought into the bill of goods that they can do it all, and 'all' means their career in particular," Quinlan said.
"I don't see a lot of bitterness toward men," she added, "though women do wish companies were better at recognizing their needs for creating a life that is rich in both family and professional satisfaction."
Today, according to the New York City-based nonprofit Families and Work Institute, about three of four U.S. women with children under the age of 18 are employed full time.
Household duties have shifted in recent years, according to the institute's 2003 study of the changing workforce. Working women have seen a decline in the hours devoted to household chores — from 3.7 hours per day in 1977 to three hours in 2002, when the survey occurred.
Men have picked up the difference. In 1977 men did about 1.3 hours a day of household chores; in 2002, two hours.
Still, women get slammed on free time, averaging just 54 minutes a day — compared with men, who get about 80 minutes a day for themselves. Managing the home is a chore that simply does not have a lot of glory.
Because many women waited until later in life to have children, now they are caring for the kids and aging parents along with running their careers.
"There are about 44.4 million caregivers in the U.S., and 61 percent of them are women," said Lydia Manning, vice president of Eldercare Education Consultants, a Norwood, Ohio-based gerontological consulting firm. Eldercare works with companies to help with needs of the aging workforce and find services for employees who are caring for aging parents.
"Women are trying to do everything: work full-time jobs, take care of children, take care of parents, work on a marriage," Manning said. "So the first thing that doesn't get done for a woman: taking care of herself."
Women and men are socialized to take on — or avoid — household duties, said Carolyn Jenkins, an associate professor of social work at Xavier University. "Boys learn very quickly that it's all women's work, and we've brought up girls to think that it is their work."
But younger men, she said, particularly college-educated men, are beginning to take on more household roles. Why?
"They see the women they're marrying are having a career, too. The women are saying, 'You're going to have to help me,' " she said.