When Both Parents Work Full-time
Thu, April 22, 2021

When Both Parents Work Full-time

In a lot of current family setup, both the mother and the father carry similar roles and both have to work to provide for the household. More than anything, this is also because millions of families find that they need two wage earners to live comfortably / Photo by: Lucky Business via Shutterstock

 

Since the institution of marriage, it has been the norm within the family for the father to be the breadwinner while the mother is the homemaker and caregiver to the elderly parents and children. Today, the situation in the family has evolved. Not only are women more capable and given more access to resources now, but they are also allowed different responsibilities inside and outside the home. In a lot of current family setup, both the mother and the father carry similar roles and both have to work to provide for the household. More than anything, this is also because millions of families find that they need two wage earners to live comfortably.

 

By the Numbers

According to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American think tank based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends, in an analysis of Current Population Survey Data, it was established that mothers have entered the US workforce in increasing numbers over the past several decades, from 31% in 1970 to 46% in 2015. In the same way, fathers who work full-time while mothers remain at home has declined from 46% in 1970 to 26% in 2015. But, the percentage of fathers that are unemployed or work only part-time while mothers work full-time has remained low, being at 2% in 1970 to 6% in 2015. The percentage of both parents being unemployed has also remained steady, hovering between 3% and 2% since the 1970s. The trends in working parents have shifted to a more equal contribution for both parents to contribute to income-earning.

In a survey conducted among 1,807 US parents about the exact division of labor in households that have both husband and wife working full-time, results showed that they are more often able to share the family workload equally. This included more than half saying that parents contribute equally when playing and doing activities with children (64%), disciplining them (61%), and handling overall household chores (59%). But, a large share of day-to-day parenting still falls on mothers’ responsibility, which is managing children’s schedules (only 39% said this role is shared equally) and taking care of them when they’re sick (47%). What this means is that when only one parent is working full-time, all of the household labor and responsibilities fall on those who don’t work. And although it was found that even if most fathers say they take in an equal amount of household responsibility, they still put in fewer hours or lesser effort compared to mothers.

In terms of which career takes priority in working parents, full-time working parents agree that both careers are equal.

According to the Pew Research Center, it was established that mothers have entered the US workforce in increasing numbers over the past several decades, from 31% in 1970 to 46% in 2015 / Photo by: Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock

 

Impact of Working and Ways to Mitigate Challenges

Two full-time working parents should mean that the family is better off than those with just one of the parents working. According to the Pew Research Center, the median income of families with two working parents with at least 1 child under 18 is $102,400 versus $84,000 in households where only the fathers work full-time and $55,000 where it’s only the mothers who work full-time. Working mothers also find that it’s harder to advance in their careers.

Juggling between working and taking care of the household is definitely tiring. Parents can feel strained and fatigued, but the American Academy of Pediatrics on Working Parents shared that there are still ways to mitigate the strain from extra pressure of work and dealing with burnout. These include practicing relaxing breathing exercises, involving the entire family in evening activities to help with managing time and drained energy, having realistic expectations, and spending the weekends for relaxation. 

In scenarios where work would get in the way of family time, transparency is the key with children, according to executive coach Amber Rosenberg of Pacific Life Coach, a life coaching and career coaching company. When a child wakes up sick or gets in trouble at school, or a family emergency comes up minutes before a presentation, parents must prioritize the household issue. There are workarounds to handle work responsibilities including emailing from home and joining meetings online. Nothing should be above the welfare of the child. Parents must also be transparent with work and workmates, and let their teams know when and how to reach them at all times. In cases when it’s not really possible to be around birthdays, recitals, or concerts, parents must still find ways to be involved, such as making a video call with the help of a friend or neighbor who is able to attend the event. This makes congratulating the child easier after the concert or recital or greeting them a happy birthday in real-time. 

Lastly, if your child is upset or in trouble, but you really just can’t leave work yet, there’s no use carelessly rushing to get tasks done. Rosenberg explained that it’s best to take a few moments and focus on finishing the work.

There’s never any perfect scenario, but it’s best to explain to children clearly why you couldn’t come home immediately, alongside a workable action plan. That way, whether something urgent can’t be done immediately, then both would know what to do and how to move forward.

Two full-time working parents should mean that the family is better off than those with just one of the parents working / Photo by: Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock