work-life-balance

Many moms – and dads – are stressed out by 'having it all'

March 14, 2013 at 1:45 PM ET

The struggle to balance work and family life is stressing out working dads almost as much as it’s stressing out working moms, leaving many parents with young children feeling like they are always rushed.

A new report from Pew Research Center finds that 56 percent of working moms and 50 percent of working dads with kids under 18 say they find it difficult to balance both their work and their family responsibilities.

That’s leaving many parents feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. The report, based on a survey Pew completed in late 2012, found that 40 percent of working moms and 34 percent of working dads feel like they are always rushed.

The findings come as more moms are taking on the working role that more typically fell to dad a generation or two ago, and more dads are taking on the household responsibilities that mom mostly took on in the 1960s and 1970s.

Brett Deering for msnbc.com /
Dustin Baylor, seen here in 2012 with sons Paxton, left, and Garrison, has struggled to balance his responsibilities as a doctor and a dad. A new Pew study finds that nearly as many dads as moms find it hard to juggle work and family responsibilities.

Meanwhile, women such as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and former State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter are sparking a refreshed debate over how, or if, women can “have it all.” That's something plenty of dads have told TODAY they struggle with as well.

One thing seems clear: Most parents want to spend time with their kids, whether they work or not.

Mom and Dad are spending significantly more time on child care than in the 1960s, and yet many dads especially think that it’s still not enough. The Pew data found that 46 percent of dads think they spend too little time with their children, while 23 percent of moms feel the same way.

That may be because, although roles are converging, moms are still spending more time on family and home life, while dads are spending more time at the office.

Pew Research Center /
As roles change, everyone is getting stressed out.

According to Pew’s analysis of the Census Bureau’s long-running American Time Use Survey, moms with kids under 18 typically spent 13.5 hours a week on direct child care in 2011, compared to 10.2 hours a week in 1965. Dads spent 7.3 hours a week on child care in 2011, up from 2.5 hours a week in 1965.

The analysis also found that moms with kids under 18 are spending 17.8 hours a week on housework, down from 31.9 hours per week in 1965. Dads are spending 9.8 hours a week on housework, compared with 4.4 hours in 1965.

Not all parents with kids under 18 are working outside the home. But among parents who are employed, moms spend an average of 33 hours at work, dad spend an average of 41.4 hours at work.

The weak economy appears to have prompted more moms to say they would like to work full time, even though few Americans think that is what is best for children.

The Pew survey found that 32 percent of moms with kids under 18 say they would like to work full time, up from 20 percent in 2007, the year the nation went into recession. The nation has officially been in recovery for more than three years, but economic conditions remain challenging and unemployment is still higher than most would like.

Meanwhile, the share of moms who said they don’t want to work at all fell from 29 percent in 2007 to 20 percent when the most recent survey was conducted in late 2012.

Working part time remained the most popular option, with about half of moms saying that’s what they’d like to do best both in 2007 and now.

That’s also the situation that the biggest chunk of Americans think is good for kids. The Pew survey found that 42 percent of adults think it is best for mom to work part time, while 16 percent say it’s ideal for mom to work full time.

The remaining approximately one-third of adults surveyed thought that it was best for mom to be home full time with the kids.

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