As you read this story, you may be sitting in a cubicle, occasionally glancing over your shoulder to make sure the boss doesn’t catch you perusing a magazine during work hours.
Or maybe you’re on your back patio, hunched over a laptop and listening for the first peep from the baby monitor to warn you that nap time is almost over and you’d better finish up, pronto.
Or perhaps you’re with a group of parents at the park, chatting as you watch your little tyke climb the stairs to the slide, all the while worrying about not having a second income in one of the most expensive places in the United States: Orange County.
I have been all of these parents.
I’ve worked part time, full time and not at all. I’ve worried about neglecting my kids and my work and about not earning enough money. I once nursed my infant daughter under a blanket while trying to co-teach a journalism class. (And she was enjoying the experience a little too loudly.)
I worked full time at a real estate magazine while my kids fended for themselves at home (they were 11 and 13 by then) and tried to parent via texting. And I’ve lied about being sick so I could leave a job to see my daughter’s music recital.
All three scenarios may sound a bit ridiculous, but they happened, and I’m guessing that many of you have similar stories to share. Also, I realize that despite these situations, I am one of the lucky ones. I have a husband who works and does his share of the housework and child care, and I have had jobs that I can leave (even if leaving required a lie) without getting fired.
My jobs have also allowed me to call in sick and still get paid, or even to work from home on occasion. I know many parents don’t have these benefits, and many struggle to balance child care and work much more than I have had to do. How does all this fit together? Here’s a look at some of the trends:
More parents are working
Since 1970, the number of households with two working parents has increased dramatically, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. In 1970, 46 percent of American households had a father who worked full time and a mother who stayed home full time. By 2015, that had dropped to 26 percent.
Seventeen percent of households had a mother who worked part time and a father who worked full time in 1970, and that number remained the same in 2015.
However, the number of households with two working parents rose from 31 percent in 1970 to 46 percent in 2015.
Who does the…