A new Pew Research survey confirms that the share of mothers who would like to work full time spiked in the last five years, from 21 percent in 2007 to 37 percent. (In case you thought everyone was just, like, kidding with all these cover stories and manifestos and what have you.) The increase may have something to do with the economy: Pew found a “strong correlation” between financial wellbeing and how much mothers want to work. “Among women who say they ‘don’t even have enough to meet basic expenses,’ about half (47 percent) say the ideal situation for them is to work full time,” Pew writes, while “only 31 percent of women who say they ‘live comfortably’ say working full time is their ideal situation.”
One woman who lives comfortably but chooses to work full time, Jillian Michaels, describes the working-mom grind in this month’s Fitness.“People can rub my nose in it, because it is so hard — so hard — to take care of yourself when you’re a parent,” Michaels said. “At the end of the day, I come home, and I’m like, ‘Okay, let me bathe you, change you, feed you, read you books, put you to bed — wait, how am I supposed to do all this? Son of a bitch this is hard!’” Michaels multitasks by catching up on e-mail while her 3-year-old daughter struggles to get dressed, and says she expects her daughter will need therapy for it.
Fortunately, Pew survey takes all that unpaid, after-work work, like cooking and cleaning and babysitting, into account. So when they report that more moms want to work full time, everyone’s clear they’re not talking about 40 hours. According to Pew, mothers work on average 59 hours per week if they are in a dual-income family or 58 hours per week if they are the sole breadwinner. Obviously, there’s no overtime for parent-teacher conferences.
Other Pew findings suggest that gender roles in families are converging. Men have nearly tripled the time they have spent with children since 1965, and more than doubled the time they spend doing housework in the same period, although women still spend twice as much time as men at both. When paid work and domestic labor are combined, men and women in dual-income households work about the same amount, just under 60 hours per week. Stay-at-home moms still do significantly more work than stay-at-home dads (46 hours per week versus 33 hours per week), and dads spend slightly more time in leisure activities than moms (28 vs. 25 hours per week). We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: get a Roomba; play more video games.