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Balancing Family, Work Demands A Growing Dilemma

Although the amount of hours the average employee works hasn't changed much over the past three decades, an ongoing transformation of family life during that time -- including many to two-earner and single-parent households -- has created a new time crunch for a growing number of Americans, according to new research.

Where the problem lies: Previous analyses of work time focused on the individual, not families who actually experience such time challenges. For example, women headed about 20 percent of all families in 2000, double the number of households 30 years ago. Although their average work week didn't change, the lack of child care and support services today leave mothers facing critical time issues.

How do people make up for the lack of time with their families? They cope with these pressures by cutting back on joint working time rather than time with the children. Parents in two-income families worked 3.3 fewer hours per week than two-income families without children, according to Census data. The number of combined work hours declines as the number of children under the age of 18 increases.

Researchers suggested a number of options that could tip the scales closer to a balance:

  • A shorter work week.
  • Creating more flexible, family-supportive workplaces.
  • Developing a wider array of affordable child care options.

The growth of the work-life balance movement has been one of more popular stories I've posted on my blog this month, so it is obviously an issue that resonates with many of you. To that end, I believe improving your physical and mental health will give you the energy to make the most of that precious time with your family. Here's four simple ways to do just that:

EurekAlert November 23, 2004

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