It’s All a Juggling Act
Today’s Women Find Balance between Work and Family
In March, the White House released a report chronicling “Women in America Indicators of Social and Economic Well Being.” The information published wasn’t surprising but it did illustrate the status of women in the world today using some interesting details.
The report verified a fact that may not surprise most women – in families where both husband and wife are employed the wives spend more time performing household activities than their husbands. This further suggests that women’s lives today are a unique juxtaposition of finding the right balance between a successful home and business life.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2009, 59 percent of working-age women in the United States were in the labor force. This percentage has increased from 43 percent four decades ago. Additionally, the proportion of working mothers with children under six rose even faster than the proportion of all women in the workforce: In 1998, almost three-out-of-four women with children were in the workforce, though growth in the percentage of mothers with young children who worked had begun leveling off in the early 1990s, as did the growth for all women.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Employment Characteristics of Families in 1998” reported that between 1969 and 1996, the number of working married women with children increased by 84 percent. By 1998, two-thirds of all mothers in married-couple families were employed. The number of single-parent families, especially those headed by women, has increased significantly since the 1960s. In fact, the proportion of single-parent families has more than doubled over the last 30 years, up from 11 percent in 1970 to 27 percent of family households with children today, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau Report.
Finding Time for Family and Career
For most moms there are no “typical” days, but most begin early and end late. Aimee Balda, who co-founded Balda Development & Construction with her husband and runs Balda Interiors, has two daughters. She describes her typical day as waking at 6:45 a.m. when her 4-year-old daughter stands at her bedside holding her clothes for the day. Balda dresses her and gets ready as she slowly wakes up her other 3-year-old daughter who loves to sleep in. Her husband, Rick, makes their espresso, a morning tradition.
“Every morning our family has breakfast together and it is my favorite time of the day,” Balda said.
Then, she takes the girls to school and gets to her office, which is 5 minutes from their school and home. “We strategically built our office and home in close proximity to limit our commute and maximize the amount of family time. I designed my office floor plan to include an attached playroom for the girls, so they have their own space where I work.”
Balda uses her lunch time to work out. The afternoon is spent returning emails and working on client projects. She also spends part of her day working on community or charity events, including the Women’s Center, Brevard Zoo and the Balda Family Foundation. She arrives home at 5 p.m. to sit with the girls while they eat dinner and enjoy playtime before a bath, story and bed. Aimee and Rick then have dinner and unwind an hour before answering emails and finalizing projects before bed.
Wendy Barin, a real estate and residential contractor with Treasure Coast Sotheby’s along with her husband David, explains, “Family and business times of the day are more integrated rather than segregated and we plan our days accordingly. Everyday is different and between the two of us and our tremendous support systems we have a great time juggling it all.” Wendy and David have a 6-year-old son, Eli. “Because my husband is my business partner we tag team a lot. The only things that are scheduled in stone are Eli’s drop-off and pick-up times. We work around his schedule quite a bit and there always seems to be time to schedule work activities,” Wendy said.
Finding the Right Balance
With children and a home to care for along with the demands of a full-time career, how can women expect to have it all – or should they? According to Dr. Wanda Bethea, psychologist, corporate and life coach, research has been done to study the work/life balance for which so many women search. The answer isn’t the same for everyone. “When you are looking at the areas of life, research tells us as long as they are harmonious they do not have to balanced. It is not always 50/50 sometimes; it could be 70/30.”
Another important part of finding harmony is incorporating “me time” when women feel stressed out. “We owe it to ourselves as human beings to be engaged in fun and play. Stress literally incapacitates us,” explained Dr. Bethea.
“I really do not think the balancing act is just on mothers. With many of our friends both parents work and they are deeply involved and passionate about their children. The whole family is balancing together . . . perhaps that is what has changed,” said Barin.
Overall, Balda finds the Brevard business world to be family-friendly.
“I have found the Space Coast area uniquely encourages a combination of exceptional employees and higher quality of life, which is perfectly suited for the working mother,” she explained. “The balance and diverse skills needed to be a working mother is valued more and more. If you can carry out motherhood and a career you can conquer anything.”
More Women in Search of Higher Education
Here’s some encouraging news: women’s gains in educational attainment have significantly outpaced those of men over the last 40 years. More young women are going to college than their male counterparts for the first time in U.S. history.
Some less than encouraging information emerged from the report as well: education pays for both women and men, but the pay gap persists because women are much more likely to go into lower-paying fields than men.
“Women in America Indicators of Social and Economic Well Being”