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Work not to blame for women’s lack of free time, study says

Friday, March 9, 2012  
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Trouble delegating and letting go of control, not work commitments, are causing much of the time pressure experienced by women, according to a new survey commissioned by Real Simple magazine.

While nearly half of the 3,230 women ages 25 to 54 surveyed for "Women and Time: Setting a New Agenda” said they do not have enough free time, nearly 70 percent said work does not interfere with their personal lives. The study, designed by Families and Work Institute, also found women who set aside regular free time are ultimately more satisfied with their lives -- with half reporting being very satisfied versus 41 percent of those who regularly postpone their free time.

"There is a startling connection between scheduling free time and happiness -- and an equally startling connection between the ability to delegate and happiness,” saidKristin van Ogtrop, managing editor for Real Simple. "We hope these findings will spark a national dialogue to help women everywhere reclaim their free time and use it in a way that will ultimately make their lives better.”

Why are women feeling so stressed? For many, there is a palpable feeling of guilt. Nearly one-third of married or partnered women often feel if they did less around the house, they would not be properly taking care of it.

Money is not necessarily a barrier to relieving many women of their responsibilities, the survey found. Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents said they would not hire more household help if they could afford it and nearly 70 percent saying they would not hire more childcare if they could afford it.

The women surveyed reported doing tasks, including laundry (79 percent), cleaning (75 percent), cooking (70 percent) and organizing or de-cluttering (62 percent), during their free time, proving that women spend their free time doing copious numbers of chores.

While many believe that their spouse is capable, they don't think their partner would do the chores the way they want them done. A considerable percentage said they would feel uncomfortable delegating tasks like decorating (62 percent), managing the finances (59 percent) or organizing and de-cluttering (53 percent) to their spouse or partner. In some cases,women are more likely to delegate daily chores to their children (17 percent) than to their spouse (9 percent.)

"In order to reclaim – and enjoy – our free time, it's critical that we shift our standards,” saidEllen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute. "We are living with expectations of our ability to get everything done, before we take time for ourselves, that are totally out of sync with our lives."

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