Stacey Ferguson, a Silver Spring mother, blogger and event planner, recently began coordinating an event she calls a working mother’s retreat. To be held at a resort, in return for a fee and two days, it will offer sessions on relaxation, achieving balance, cooking and time management.
When Ferguson, who is a mother of three (and goes by the name Justice Fergie online), polled her friends and acquaintances , she received a rush of “Oh, that sounds fabulous!” She expected to fill up her 50 slots within days of announcing it.
Nope. Three weeks out and she’s still looking to fill half the slots.
“I am no stranger to planning events, so I can account for the usual reasons for slow registrations, but this was different,” Ferguson told me.
She talked it over with a friend who mentioned that the event sounded great, but also guilt inducing.
“Finally, it hit me: while I was seeing this event as a necessity for busy moms, others were seeing it as a luxury — and one that couldn’t necessarily be justified amidst the real time and financial crunches of a family.”
Ferguson’s experience comes just as the magazine Real Simple has gone to press with a new survey of more than 3,000 women aged 25 to 54 conducted in conjunction with the Families and Work Institute that examines how American women spend their time.
It’s not at retreats, that’s for sure.
The survey found that that half of women say they don’t have enough free time — defined as: “time you spend on yourself where you can choose to do things that you enjoy.”
What’s the biggest source of interruption to that free time according to the survey? Children.
The report also found that 84 percent of mothers said they bear the main responsibility for planning children’s activities, and mothers are spending more time with their children than ever before.
“Since 1965, labor-force rates for women with kids under 18 have risen from 45 percent to 78 percent. Nonetheless, today’s mothers — both working and stay-at-home — are logging more child-care hours than the Betty Drapers of the past did: more than 14 hours a week in 2010, compared with a little more than 10 hours a week in 1965. This is the case even though married fathers have increased their child-care load more than fourfold in the same time period,” says the report.
In other words, parents, both mothers and fathers, are devoting more time to their children, leaving less time for themselves. And less time to spend even thinking about how to find more “me” time.
Do you carve out personal time? How? What “me” activities have you given up?