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SuperParents: Balancing Family-Life, Work and Job Hunting

Most parents throughout the U.S. would agree that maintaining a household and taking care of children is a full-time job. While every family composition is different – two parents, single parents, grandparents raising their children’s children, etc. – there can be no set way of doing things, no rule book or outline we can follow to make sure that kids are happy, loved, healthy, and financially supported; all while allowing parents and caregivers to have the same. And to further complicate things, what happens if a stay-at-home parent wants to go back to work? How difficult or easy is such a task?

The Washington Post touches on these very issues in covering the work and 2005 study of one writer, Katherine Reynolds Lewis, who focuses on jobs, family issues and finances. Based on the article, approximately 1/3 of mothers who are married stop working at some point in order to tend to their children. In examining the unemployment rate of the U.S. at almost 10%, when looking at long-term joblessness for women between the ages of 45 and 64, the U.S. Labor Department statistics reports that these women fit into a number that has more than doubled in the past year. Lewis’s 2005 study determined that about 40% of stay-at-home mothers who want to re-enter the workforce are able to get full-time jobs and another 34% are able to get part-time employment.

Lewis also concludes that a period of over ten years of not working may lower an at-home mom’s chances of finding employment. For 2009, the Census Bureau calculated that out of 5.1 million stay-at-home moms, 23 % of all married mothers had children younger than the age of 15 living in their home. And we’re not just talking about mothers when it comes to balancing caring for children and employment opportunities. Fathers who have chosen to stay at home to care for kids are also faced with the challenge of re-entering the workforce after several years, although this is only more of an issue in recent years.

While studies similar to these seem few and far between, family law professionals handle cases relating to how a marriage (and perhaps the dissolution of that marriage) influences the employment and finances of parties involved. While some may recommend that neither a mother nor father should stay out of the work-force for too long, even if that means paying for a kind of child care service, others would never suggest such a thing. Members of a family must decide what is best for them as individuals and for the family as a whole, while also considering that work experience is more valuable than ever amidst a financially unstable economy with significant unemployment rates.

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