I had to work late the other night, and drove home past my kids' bedtimes, fretting the whole way. I felt guilty for not having seen much of them that day, and I felt sad for missing bedtime -- one of my favorite routines. My husband works late fairly regularly -- I've quipped that one reason my own work-life balance is so bad may be because his is practically non-existant -- and I started wondering what kind of stressors he faces as he drives back after a long day.
He has a demanding job, at the same company at which I work; and he's a journalist, same as me -- which means we're both facing with the same industry meltdown and accompanying stress. But he's dealing with a wrinkle that I don't: As a man, no one really expects him to be struggling with work-life balance.
That's not to say that he doesn't struggle with it. Believe me, he does. It's just that, if he has to work late, it's assumed that I'll handle all things kid- and house-related. And I do. But if I have to work late, I always feel like there's a price to be paid. And I know that's coming from within -- I'm the one keeping score, not him.
Over at Sparkplugging's The Man Page, Derek Semmler asks working father-of-six Leo Babauta if women have a harder time achieving work-life balance than men. "Moms who work often juggle a lot more than dads do, as they often assume more of the home responsibilities (not necessarily, but more often than not)," he replies. (Moms who work from home, or who stay at home, have an even bigger problem, he points out: "Their work IS their home life, so there’s no division at all.")
It's not a new issue at all: A 2007 survey by Careerbuilder.com and reported by CNN found that 37 percent of working dads say they'd leave their jobs if their spouse made enough money to support the family, and another 38 percent say they would take a pay cut to spend more time with their kids. Their ability to do so has been affected by the economy's current downward spiral, of course -- but, then again, the economy is affecting working moms as well.
Has your spouse achieved work-life balance? Is it something the two of you work on together? How do you make the juggle work?