I’ve given this a lot of thought over the past couple of years. Every time I come to the same conclusion. Either there is not enough available time or there are simply too many demands placed on modern homes where both parents work. Personally I think it’s the later.
Out of the 24 hours available in a given day the average person spends 8 hours a day at work. This coupled with the expectation that one should be getting their standard 8 hours of sleep at night… That leaves us with 8 remaining hours of “free” time. If those 8 hours were truly free it would be fine… But then there are all of the shoulda, coulda, and wouldas out there. Starting out with the required items such as…
Getting ready for work : 30 min
Commuting to/from work: 1 hour (average is 25 min each way)
Recommended amount of exercise: 30 min
Childcare: 1 hour
Household activities: 2 hours
*numbers obtained from basic google searches*
So…. Based on this… (my non-scientific google searches and iffy math). As a working parent during the work week we would have at most 3 hours of free time. I would argue that I am lucky if I get 3 whole hours of free time… And if I do it’s definitely not all at one time. It’s broken up… Maybe the two minutes I pause to check my phone while the kid is miraculously otherwise engaged in a single safe activity. Or that short period of time after the kid goes to bed but before I go to bed where I am actually too tired to enjoy any free time. But a 3 solid hours? Nope. And don’t even get me started on the extra activities. Sports. PTA. Running errands. Medical appointments. Working late….Really, the list goes on.
This isn’t to say that I want a ton of free time. I have always wanted kids. I knew going in that this was part of the deal. But I do think there is such a thing of having more to do than can possibly be accomplished in a given day… And I think this might be one of those cases. Even worse, as a society we are moving in a direction where both parents have to work. This isn’t an across the board statement… Every situation is different but there are enough families where both parents work… Not because they want to but because they have to that it’s worth pointing out.
Personally, I think this is a problem… And most of the discussion centers around how to make it work. How to keep doing everything and more. Look at how much more free time you will have if you just sleep less! 😦 I tried that once… It didn’t work. I was a walking zombie. I may have actually gotten less done but I’m not sure because I was too tired to remember. I think that as a society we need to substantially reevaluate our expectations of working parents. I don’t know what the answer is exactly (please let the answer be working less… Please). But I think that an open dialogue is the first step. In the meantime to all the working parents out there… Especially the ones that won’t have the time to read this. Hang in there. These are some of the craziest and best days you will ever have.