Where Are All the Magic Lamps?

I want to own a new H3, but I drive a five-year-old Chrysler.

My wife wants me to cook lobster tonight, but I’m picking up pizza.

My youngest daughter wants to go to the beach, but tomorrow she will see the sea lion show at the zoo.

More often than not, your ideal situation does not match up with reality. It’s certainly evident in a survey recently conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Only 21% of mothers with children under 18 say full-time work is their ideal situation, while 60% of working moms say part-time employment is their preference.

The desire of mothers with minor children to work full-time appears to be waning. In 1997, 32% desired to work full-time with 48% longing for part-time employment.

Although there’s a 12% shift in the past decade toward moms working fewer hours, 70% of mothers with kids under 18 are employed outside of the home, according to the U.S. Labor Department. And, of those moms in the workforce, 75% are employed full time and 25% work part time.

After years of giving 100% at home and 100% on the job, working moms are clearly seeking a better work-life balance.

In an interview conducted by the Associated Press, Cary Funk, a Pew researcher on the survey, said the trend reflected women’s latest thoughts on the ideal arrangement for their children. “I don’t think it means people are going to give up their jobs,” she said. “It’s more of an expression of the difficulties of combining responsibilities at work and home.”

What have been your experiences with juggling work and family responsibilities? To read more about work-life balance check out these blogs:  On Balance (Washington Post) and The Juggle (Wall Street Journal).


  1. Danielle Ezell

    “More often than not, your ideal situation does not match up with reality.”
    And rarely is the ideal situation as ideal as you thought it would be once you achieve it.
    I wonder how many working moms who say they would prefer to stay at home would actually feel that way once they stayed at home a few months. It would be interesting to see if their “ideal” was the nirvana they had envisioned.

  2. Kate S.

    I don’t have any actual experience to contribute here, but I suspect that the desire to work part time comes from an understanding that there are benefits to working outside the home at the same time that there are benefits to staying home. The moms (and dads) that I know do enjoy their jobs, enjoy interacting with grown-ups, need the income, etc. They also really enjoy their time with their kids. I don’t see them looking for a perfect situation, just something better than what they have now.

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