Balancing Work and Family

Work and family are both central to our way of life. Finding a balance between the two is an issue of importance to men, women and employers. Today, nearly 50 percent of families have two wage earners. Less than one-fifth of families are “traditional” breadwinner/homemaker families.1 Research suggests that when adults add children to their family, men and women tend to become more traditional in how they divide workloads. In other words, tasks become delegated by gender rather than by interest or ability. However, in order to successfully balance multiple roles, adults may need to become even less traditional than they were before becoming parents.

Today, nearly 50 percent of  families have two wage earners.

Managing more numerous and complex work and family roles is a source of stress for many of us. Stress comes from two primary sources: role strain and spillover. Role strain occurs when the responsibilities of one role interfere with performing other roles. For example, a job that requires long hours or excessive travel may have a negative impact on a partnership or parenting role. Spillover is when the conditions and relationships in one area of our lives affect us in another area. For example, inflexible work hours, an overbearing supervisor, or a less-than-positive work environment can have a negative impact on your family life. Family concerns, such as an unsupportive partner, inequities in the division of housework and child care, significant health problems in family members, or changing child care arrangements can have a negative impact on your work.2

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There are four processes we can work through, which can help us evaluate ourselves and our lives and make changes:

Clarifying Values

Values guide our actions and are usually the result of our life experiences. Clarifying our values is one key to managing work and family demands. A value is defined as “a principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desired.”3 Most of us know some of our values, but sometimes important values remain unconscious or unknown. Often, we don’t question or even acknowledge many of the values we hold until we assume new roles or experience conflict. The values ...

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