Every working mom knows the difficulty of trying to keep up with the demands of their job, on top of the chaos that comes with parenting when they’re home. New statistics from The National Working Families Report in Australia make clear just how much that struggle weighs on parents.
The survey of almost 6,300 Australian parents, all with vastly different professions, found that two thirds of the participants were “struggling to care for their physical and mental health due to the tension between work and caring” for their children.
The stress doesn’t end once children grow older and more self-sufficient. “We asked parents what their biggest challenge was and overwhelmingly it came back as looking after their own physical and mental wellbeing from when children are born to about the age of 16,” said Emma Walsh, mother and CEO of Parents at Work, a company that helps families navigate working parenthood and commissioned the study. “But a growing number is feeling a huge responsibility to support kids right through Year 12 [senior year of high school] as well and also arranging work around that to be there because of the weight of expectations.”
It’s not that parents don’t enjoy their work. According to the study, even though one in three parents feels “satisfied and fulfilled” with their jobs, the balancing act between parenthood and career negatively impacts their family relationships. This might have to do with the fact that two-thirds of parents reported feeling too physically or emotionally drained after work to help out at home.
One in four parents said they’re even considering leaving work because of the amount of stress they’re under.
Moms bear the brunt of the issue, with half of women respondents reporting “a great deal” of stress when it comes to work and family balance. Only one-third of male respondents felt the same. The report also found that flexible work options are looked at as a women’s issue, not something that should be offered to all tired parents.
The report’s results aligned with Professor Rae Cooper, the co-director of The University of Sydney’s Women, Work and Leadership Group’s findings. “Full time working women with young children are among the most stressed members of the Australian labour force,” she said. “At the moment, women are bending to the needs of demanding family life and to the pressures of inflexible jobs…They are squeezed on the one hand between inflexible jobs and workplaces that do not accommodate the need for flexibility and, on the other hand, family arrangements that assume it is the mother’s job to be the primary carer of children and the carrier of mental load at home.”