In her column today, the Journal’s Sue Shellenbarger describes individuals who, tired of juggling the pressures of work and personal life, opt out of high-powered, and often high-paying careers to have more time for family, friends and other outside interests. The catch: they’re single.
The struggles of working moms have long been central to discussions of work-life balance, and, more recently, working dads are making such balance a priority as well. But Shellenbarger finds that, increasingly, more single women are expressing a desire for more free time. She cites a 2011 More Magazine poll which found that 68% of childless women say they would prefer having more time over more money, compared with 62% of women with children.
And it’s not solely an issue for single women, Shellenbarger notes. Research from the University of Texas at Arlington found that managers assume singles don’t have anything to do but work and will often pile on extra duties and projects. She spoke with Sherri Langburt, founder of SingleEditionMedia.com, who said that the struggles of singles often go unnoticed. Singles have to ”get the laundry done, get to the gym, buy groceries and get to the job,” Langburt argued, “plus plan social activities or volunteer work and sometimes care for aging relatives, too.”
I felt a wave of identification reading Shellenbarger’s column. I remembered a time when, while regularly working to 8, 9, 10 at night, I would watch colleagues leave work at 6 for — I imagined — romantic dinners with partners, or laughter-filled evenings with the kids. Colleagues who had sick children at home seemed to have a much easier time not coming into the office, while I suffered at my desk with the flu. “What about taking care of my ‘inner child’?” I growled to myself.
I see things differently these days. The desire to have a full life — which includes a productive career, a vibrant social life and a clean bath tub — can only be met with a certain amount of compromise. So sometimes the dishes go unwashed, sometimes I work late and miss out on happy hour, and sometimes the office to-do list just gets longer. And I imagine the same would be true if I were married with children.
Readers, for the singles among us, what are your techniques for balancing all aspects of your life? Do you find your managers take advantage of your single status and load on more work? And for the partnered parents out there, how has the juggling act changed for you since you left single life? Are we facing a “grass is greener” scenario?
Article written by Allison Lichter and originally published on the Wall Street Journal Online.