DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Ask a working mother about ‘work-life’ balance and be prepared to wait. By the time most stop laughing– and looking at you as though you’ve asked about a good deal on purple unicorns– you’ll find that the so-called ‘work-life balance’ is, at best, elusive.
But, according to the Pew Research Center, at least more husbands are involved in the pursuit.
According to researchers, the typical American Dad spends more than twice as much time doing housework as did his father in the 1960s… and logs almost three times the hours spent on child care. Moms spend roughly 18 hours on weekly household chores, less than the 32 hours logged by their Mothers in the 1960s, but still far more than present day Dads.
Still, even as more Dads pitch in around the house, researchers found that modern day parenting is a recipe for stress.
“It’s tough,” says Kyle Walzel of Allen, “there’s a million things to do. But, it’s a team effort and I’m trying to pitch in as much as I can.”
For Walzel, that means loading or unloading the dishwasher, doing the laundry, coaching his girls’ soccer team– whatever it takes. Jennifer Walzel says it’s been that way since the beginning– and she realizes that she’s very fortunate.
“I guess I’m spoiled,” she says with a laugh, adding that Kyle has always been a “hands on” Dad… whether that meant applying sunscreen for an outing at the park or comforting a fussy baby, he’s done it all.
“Diapers, sleepless nights, just walking around with a fussy baby, all of it, absolutely, ” says Jennifer. “He’s wonderful… and I couldn’t do it without him.”
And that’s especially true since Jennifer has gone back to work. She says she stayed at home with their three girls– Grace, Claire and Caroline. But, now, that they’re all in school, she’s re-entered the workforce. Of course, that means, she needs those extra hands around the house even more. Kyle says he’s happy to help– but, can’t resist a chuckle when he thinks of how his role in the household has changed from what he saw growing up.
“My Dad would go and work all day and come home at dark,” says Kyle. “But, that’s just the way it was. It’s different, now.” He adds that his Mom and two sisters made sure he was prepared to be a modern Dad. Adding with a laugh, “I was well aware that I was going to be changing some diapers, that’s for sure!”
Mike Jolly of Dallas agrees– saying that he helps his wife out at home is a given. But, he also says he’s working hard to do more than provide for his 5-year-old daughter, Jackson. He wants to be present in her life as well.
“My dad couldn’t make it to my football games, couldn’t make it to my track meets,” says Jolly. “I knew he was providing for me. We had food, clothing, I got new stuff for Easter and stuff like that but, he wasn’t there.”
So Jolly sees housework as a way to help take some of the burden off of his working wife; but, to also spend time with his daughter.
And while ‘balance’ for working parents may be elusive. Many busy families say it’s working together that makes the journey bearable.
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