Working mums: Is there any such thing as a work/life balance?

The struggle for a healthy work/life balance for women has been a topic for much debate, with plenty of literature dedicated to the challenge. Writer and journalist Allison Pearson wrote a book on the subject, a novel entitled I Don’t Know How She Does It that was also made into a film in 2011.

Furthermore, while feminism has successfully allowed women to have careers they could only have dreamed of prior to the 1970s, men don’t seem to have caught up on the issue of gender roles. Statistics show that no matter what their work commitments outside the home, women spend more time doing housework than men.

work-life-balance According to research conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research, eight out of ten married women do more housework than their husbands. The IPPR’s findings show that 87% of women spend more than seven hours a week on housework, which amounts to a full working day spent working around the home, and that’s not even taking into account childcare. In fact, the findings suggest that women end up doing more in the home after they’ve had children, completely scuppering the work/life balance.

Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR notes that closing the gender pay gap would be the best way to make roles in the home more equal, as women who earn more apparently have higher ‘bargaining power’ in the home. He also believes that men should do more to make the balance happen: “Men should work more flexibly, take greater responsibility for caring for their children and their homes, and have the right to reserved parental leave.”

It seems that women’s ability to lead a stress free life is dependent on being able to delegate, as is often the case in Scandinavian countries. In countries like Sweden, men and women are allowed two months’ mums-doing-houseworkparental leave when a new child is born, and a further nine months leave that can be divided between the parents however way they choose. This means that the care for a new baby can be divided up equally between mother and father.

The result of this evening out of gender roles means that not only will it help new mothers go back to work if and when they want to; it also means that both men and women have the potential to ask for lengthy parental leave. This helps eliminate the impulse for employers to favour men over women on the basis that the latter may want to take time off to have children.

It also sets a positive precedent for the future. If men and women both took a more balanced approach to childcare and indeed housework, the onus would be taken off women’s shoulders when it comes to juggling their life’s commitments. Accessible childcare would also greatly improve the situation, especially for single mothers who cannot delegate childcare to a partner.

In the meantime, women in the UK are likely to struggle on doing more than their fair share, with nothing like a work/life balance. So perhaps you should continue to thank your mum this year by buying her Mother’s Day presents at K&Co.

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Author Bio: Lauren Johnson-Ginn is a writer and editor, living in London. Her passions include fashion and film, and fashion on film. This is a guest post that has been posted in accordance to the terms of my PR Guidelines. The views expressed in it are my own and the article cannot be reproduced without prior permission.  Interested in getting a review, competition or guest post for your product? Contact me 
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