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Intense Parenting: Check!

Working mothers sleep less and don’t groom as much as non-working mothers — or so says a recent researchFamily Change and Time Allocation in American Families — out of the University of California at Los Angeles.

The report was presented at a big conference this past week in Washington D.C. The conference, called Focus on Workplace Flexibility, took on this topic and others ranging from the affect of children on a career to phased retirement to a discussion about how to encourage women to take on science careers.

While I can explain what the Family Change study said, you’d probably do better to read The Wall Street Journal’s The Jungle blog, which has a succinct post entitled Intense Parenting Comes at High Cost.

I sat there reading it and found myself nodding my head. Working moms take care of their kids more today than they did in 1965. As a result, they spend less time grooming (we’re brushing and combing for a mere 8.2 hours a week as opposed to the 10.1 hours we spent doing the same in 1965). We don’t sleep as much. We don’t exercise as much as we’d like. And the sentence that really hit home for me: parents “…also report ‘feeling always rushed’ and that they have too little time for themselves or their partners.”

A few more choice bits out of the actual report: Parents have kids in a multitude of activities hoping to “ensure children’s later life educational success. Despite their heavy involvement in childrearing, the majority of mothers and fathers still report that they have ‘too little time’ with their children [since] …time together is often spent rushing to the next activity or commitment.”

Let me tell you about my day. I worked last night. From 11:30 p.m. until 4 a.m. Woke up at 8:15. Had to pack up lunches and such and drive kids around. Came home. Worked a bit. Took Little Girl to a mommy and me. Ran to a doctor appointment. Brought both kids home. Cleaned my kitchen. Got Big Girl to do homework. Put Little Girl down for nap. Cooked dinner for my sister, who is convalescing from an operation. Worked some more editing something. Got Little Girl up. Left both kids with sitter. Drove food over to sister’s. Picked up husband from train. Fed children. Put both children to bed. Took a 30 minute pit stop into a home sales party in the neighborhood. And here I am. Working again.

I am not complaining. I am blessed to be so busy. I know that. But to say I felt a little rushed today is an understatement. Even before I read the WSJ story I said these exact words to my husband: I would like a day where I am not running all over the world.

Unfortunately, the researchers didn’t provide any solutions to the problems. How do we give our children of ourselves, earn money, and find time to jump on our spin bikes and yoga mats as often as we’d like? When someone figures it all out can they let me know?

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