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Working Mothers Continue to Juggle Demands of Work and Life, Survey Reveals

CHICAGO, May 12, 2003 – The challenge for working mothers to manage time spent at the office and home continues with one in four working mothers saying they are dissatisfied with their balance of work and life, according to a recent survey. To give more time to family, these working mothers are making various work style adjustments. The survey, "A Portrait of Working Mothers 2003," included 594 working mothers with children at home under the age of 18.

Balancing a 40-hour work week with a full-time career as Mom can be tough. Thirty-six percent of working mothers reported working more than 40 hours a week, excluding commute times. With many families rushing out the door in the morning for work or school or soccer practice, it is not surprising that busy moms save evenings for family time. Before work, 53 percent of working mothers spent one hour or less with their children. After work, 55 percent spent three to six hours with their children.

To better balance work and life, most working mothers indicated they have made various work style adjustments - 71 percent of which reported no adverse impact on their career progress. Thirty-nine percent of working mothers took advantage of flexible schedules or altered their daily work schedules to, for example, arrive early and leave early. Twenty percent left work early to attend events involving their children or to take their children to medical and dental appointments. Sixteen percent took personal days.

"For working mothers such as myself, balancing work and life is a constant challenge," said Mary Delaney, chief sales officer at and mother of three children. "The key to balancing time effectively is setting boundaries and priorities ahead of time both at home and at work. Planning for priorities a month or week in advance can help to replace a stressful juggling act with a manageable schedule."

Planning helps to balance time and stress levels, which is important considering that half of all working mothers reported they worked under a great deal of stress. Stress at work increased along with the number of hours worked. For women who worked in excess of 40 hours a week, 64 percent stated they worked under a great deal of stress.

Companies are recognizing the need to help employees find relief for time-management pressures at work and home, offering options such as telecommuting and job sharing. However, these innovations have not been widely adopted by working mothers. Four percent of working mothers indicated they were telecommuting and only one percent said they were job sharing. Less than two percent reported sending their children to on-site day care centers provided by their employer.

"More and more organizations are evaluating and implementing programs to accommodate their workers' need to achieve a healthy work and life balance," continued Delaney. "A better balance can serve to alleviate stress, improve job satisfaction, and enhance overall performance."

Delaney offers the following tips for maintaining a satisfying balance of work and life:
  1. Maximize your time at work by prioritizing your most important tasks and eliminating unnecessary disruptions.
  2. Compartmentalize your day. While at work, focus on work. While at home, focus on your children and your family.
  3. Take advantage of alternate work schedules at your place of employment such as flexible hours or telecommuting.
The Survey

The new survey, "A Portrait of Working Mothers 2003," was conducted from March 20 to March 27, 2003 of 594 working women with children at home under the age of 18. To collect data for the survey, commissioned SurveySite to use an e-mail methodology whereby individuals who are members of SurveySite Web Panel were randomly selected and approached by e-mail invitation to participate in the online survey. The results of this survey are accurate within +/- 4 percent (19 times out of 20).

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