New Study: Tough Times for Working Moms


Avoid the tug-of-war feeling between success in the office and quality time at home with these tips

By Mary Schwager for GalTime

It’s always been challenging to be a mom who also works outside the home— but according to a new survey, things are getting even worse.

A national annual study of working moms by CareerBuilder yielded some shocking results.  A whopping one in four-- or  26 percent of women who had a child in the past three years did not take the full maternity leave allowed by their company. 

How much maternity leave are workers taking?

Competitive work environments and demanding positions may be causing more women to reduce their time off from work after delivery. While most working moms who’ve had a child in the last three years (44 percent) reported taking more than eight weeks of maternity leave, 12 percent said they took two weeks or less. Forty percent were off work for six weeks or less.

How much are working moms earnings compared to working dads?

Financial pressures are also playing a key role in how moms are managing time at work. Thirty-nine percent of working moms and 43 percent of working dads surveyed by CareerBuilder reported that they are the sole financial provider in their household.

Related: How Women Compete with Men in the Workplace 

“As more moms assume the sole or primary breadwinner role in their households, they’re feeling increasingly torn between providing financial security for their families and having quality time at home,” said Hope Gurion, Chief Development Officer at CareerBuilder, and mother of two.

Working dads who are the sole breadwinner were almost twice as likely to earn $50,000 or more and were approximately three times as likely to earn six figures as working moms. Women were much more likely to earn less than $35,000 compared to men.

Earning less than $35,000

  • Working moms – 40 percent

  • Working dads – 21 percent

Earning $50,000 or more

  • Working moms – 33 percent

  • Working dads – 59 percent

Earning $100,000 or more

  • Working moms – 6 percent

  • Working dads – 17 percent

How much time do working moms get to spend with their families?

Women continue to feel the tug of war between the office and home, wishing for more time to balance both. One in four (25 percent) of working moms feel they have to choose between their children and being successful at their jobs. Twenty-four percent reported they have missed three or more significant events in their children’s lives in the last year due to work obligations.  

Related: 5 Reasons Why Moms Make the Best Employees

When asked how much time they’re able to spend with their children during the work week, half of working moms said they average at least four hours of quality time each day. However, nearly three in ten reported they get to spend two hours or less with their children each day.

  • Two hours or less per day – 22 percent

  • One hour or less per day – 6 percent

  • Four hours or more – 51 percent

“The pay disparity between working moms and dads has improved over the years, but is still significant. More working moms are seeking out second jobs to supplement incomes and flexible work arrangements to afford more family time,”explains Gurion.

What can working moms do to find a better work/life balance?

1. Go in with a game plan – The vast majority of working moms who have taken advantage of flexible work arrangements said it hasn’t negatively impacted their careers, so talk to your supervisor or HR department and explore options. It’s best to be prepared-- come to that conversation with a game plan on how you can manage workload, cover responsibilities, etc.

Related: 6 Ways to Beat the Stress Out of Your Life 

2. Keep an “I’m Fabulous” file – Keep track of all of your accomplishments within the organization, quantifying results whenever possible, and list out the additional responsibilities you have taken on in the last year. It helps you to build your case when negotiating for a better salary or consideration for promotion with your employer.

3. Get organized – Structure in your life will save you time, stress and mental energy. Keep one calendar for business and family commitments to avoid double booking. Set up a schedule for chores, homework, family activities and playtime.

4. Remember quality over quantity – Make the most of your personal time. When you’re home, it’s all about them. Wait until after the children go to bed before checking email or finishing up that presentation.

5. Schedule “Me Time” – Working moms need to take care of themselves too. Put actual time on the calendar for an hour or more of doing something you enjoy such as going to the gym, taking a walk, reading, etc.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 601 working moms and 729 working dads of kids 18 and under living in household (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government) ages 18 and over between February 9 and March 2, 2012 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 601 and 729, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 4.00 and +/- 3.63 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.


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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.