A study made public Tuesday confirms what many working parents believe but may not admit, at least not at work: Parenting can be more rewarding than paid work, and also more tiring.
Business owner and mother Stephanie Feltus of Papillion hears it from her friends and from women in the Working Moms of Omaha group she organizes.
“They look forward to Monday, almost,” she said. “The weekend is exhausting.”
Are parents coming to work to relax? Not quite. American parents with children under 18 are “very happy” in 35 percent of their child-care activities, compared with only 19 percent of their paid work. They also feel slightly more stressed at work than while engaged with the children.
But parenting is also more tiring —- parents rate 12 percent of child care activities “very tiring,” compared with just 5 percent of paid work. Mothers, who spend more time on the physical care of children, report feeling very tired in 15 percent of child care activities, compared with 6 percent for fathers, who spend less time overall on child care and more of their child care hours in recreation.
The Pew Research Center reported Tuesday on results from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey.
Feltus, a dietitian and owner of mommyassistant.com, said she personally does not find it tiring to care for her children, a 3-year-old girl and 6-month-old boy. But she related to the survey’s finding that working parents found 62 percent of child care “very meaningful,” compared with 36 percent of paid work activities.
“I feel like I have more of an impact on my kids’ lives, and the outcome,” she said.
Jean Soares of Papillion, however, said some days with her children, now 16 and 9, do get tiring. “There are no breaks,” said Soares, who recently left a corporate accounting job to open a hypnotherapy practice. She said children don’t express appreciation like a workplace can, and the results of good parenting sometimes don’t show for years. Still, child rearing is more meaningful, she agreed.
“In 10 years if I’m not making as much money as I want to, it’s not as big a deal as if in 10 years my kids are a mess,” she said.
Tony Bisignano of west Omaha, father of an 11-year-old boy, said the satisfaction he takes in his sales work, closing deals and finding solutions to customers’ problems, “pales in comparison” to the fulfillment of spending time with his son. “If I won the lottery, if I was afforded the opportunity to be a stay-at-home dad, I would do it in a heartbeat.”