March 27, 2011
This just in: Work gets in the way of the rest of your life
I'm not a parent, but I have many friends, family, and colleagues who are. I hope that qualifies me as enough of a parenting ally to comment on what has begun to strike me as an irksome trend: the numerous polls and studies reminding us just how much work interferes with family life.
Last month, a study by researchers at American University, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago found that the more mothers worked over time, the heavier their kids became.
Earlier this month, another study found that working moms tend to feel "guilty" and "distressed" when called, pinged, or texted by the office while they're home with their family, even when they're doing a bang-up job of juggling the two. (According to the study, men don't suffer from the same affliction.)
Now a new survey commissioned by Care.com, a site that connects families with babysitters and other caregivers, tells us that a majority of working parents polled (62 percent of 600, to be exact) said that balancing work and family life has left them "too stressed" to hit the gym, give a friend a call, or have sex with their significant other. (Too bad, because it's repeatedly been proven that at least two of the three can help reduce stress.)
Paging researchers and pollsters: The fact that some aspects of a person's home life get short shrift when they have a job is not news. Likewise for the notion that at some point, most workers pine for a tad more time away from the office (even us non-parents, but I guess researchers have yet to find that demographic as interesting).
Thing is, if you don't work, you don't eat. And as we all know, not having a paycheck leads to its own set of stressors, ones I'm willing to bet that people living on food stamps or losing their home would gladly trade for such comparatively quaint complaints as not having enough energy to lift weights or show your sweetie a little extra affection.
Maybe I'm just cranky and in need of a day off myself. But unless researchers and pollsters want to offer weary workers a better way to pay their bills, I'm not sure how much use many of these work-life balance studies and surveys are.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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