Hey, ladies — you’re not the only ones struggling with work-life balance.
Just like women, men these days are struggling to have it all, according to a new report.
The research, released last week by Hearst Magazines and marketing firm Open Mind Strategy, looked at goals for men and women at different life stages. It found that younger men — Gen Zers, Gen Xers and millennials — considered “work-life balance” their top priority. Between their demanding careers and busy home lives, researchers explain, guys are feeling crunched.
That’s especially true for fathers, says Lance Somerfeld, an Upper East Side father of two.
“More dads are really pitching in at home and stepping up in such a huge way: cooking meals, doing laundry, helping with homework, painting their daughter’s nails,” the 47-year-old behind a social club called City Dads Group, tells The Post. “They’re sharing in all aspects of the parenting.”
That includes stressing out about work-life balance — what Somerfeld calls dads’ “corner-of-the-playground discussion” du jour. How can you thrive at work, exercise, see your friends and be a parent?
Men striving as much at home as they do at work “would have been unthinkable even 10 or 15 years ago,” says Rich Dorment, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine. “When you look at our fathers, they might work from 9-to-5 and go home. Then, they didn’t do much. They played ball with Junior, but that was often the extent of their involvement.”
Today, some dads, such as Upper West Sider Teddy Levarda, are pitching in more at home out of love. The 34-year-old recently left a lucrative job in finance for a more flexible gig as an acupuncturist because he didn’t want to miss out on raising his 6-month-old daughter, Asha.
“My bosses were missing out on their kids lives,” Levarda says. “Their college-aged kids would come into the office sometimes and seeing them interact, they barely knew them. It was really sad.”
So he quit the rat race — becoming the primary chore-doer and caregiver, while his wife, a psychologist, continues working — and it’s been a struggle emotionally.
“I’m still working on finding the right balance,” Levarda says, adding that there’s a lot of “pressure” and “stress” around his career and social life now. “But knowing that I get to be involved with my family makes it easier to deal with.”
South Brooklyn dad Dan Quigley feels similarly. The 48-year-old has a robust fashion career: He manages the Armoury Westbury, an Upper East Side men’s clothing store, and also runs a small business, a custom tie company called ByWayOv. He doesn’t want to give any of that up, so he works hard to carve out time with his 2-year-old son, Cillian, planning his week to the minute so he can be there for family breakfasts, bath time and family outings. During his commutes, he meditates, so he can “be present” at home.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure,” says Quigley. “My time with my son is pragmatic, and I have to work to make that time happen.”
Another thing driving this new male pressure cooker? Economics. As male breadwinners with stay-at-home spouses become less and less common, Dorment explains, guys’ partners expect them to carry more weight at home.
“We don’t have a choice,” the editor says, admitting that it’s a “cynical” perspective. “We often live in dual-income households and people don’t have the option not to participate in their family lives.”
There also are social complications. Even in these enlightened times, many men don’t yet feel comfortable openly prioritizing their family. Dads are more likely to miss family events and dinners because of work than moms, according to a study by child-care provider Bright Horizons. Men also are less likely to be upfront with their colleagues about having to tend to a family matter. Some 59 percent of men admit to sneaking out of the office rather than leveling with their co-workers, versus 42 percent of women.
In this sense, it’s actually harder for men than women to walk the achievement tightrope.
“Women are a generation ahead,” Dorment says. “There was the rush into the workplace in the ‘70s and ‘80s among women. That’s when they felt the competing demands between work and [family] life. Men were much later to face those same pressures.”
Women agree — although their sympathies are a little strained.
“Women have been dealing with this issue forever,” says mom of two and blogger Kristen Kelly, 31, who’s launching a podcast called “Not Your Mom’s Podcast” in May. “We’ve never had a 9-to-5. As moms, you have a job from the moment you wake up in the morning to the moment you fall asleep at night.”
“This is life. This is what happens when you have family and a job, and we’re in a world now where men and women should have equal responsibilities,” says blogger Brianne Manz, 38, who runs the lifestyle blog Stroller in the City, and has three kids who are 6, 8 and 11. “Women just handled it, they just got it done. I think dads are vocalizing it more, which is why this is a bigger issue.”
Even if they feel stretched, most dudes are not oblivious: They recognize that the majority of the burden still falls to their partners.
“Parenting is a team effort, and women have had to do too much for too long,” says Levarda. He’s on Week 2 of his wife’s return to work and is settling into a new rhythm of chores and maintaining feeding and nap schedules. But he knows that the conflict is even stronger in his wife’s mind. “I’ll never have it as hard as she does.”
And just like many women before them, many men are realizing that something’s gotta give.
“We have to give each other and ourselves a break, in terms of being perfect employers or employees and parents,” says Dorment. “Nobody can have it all.”
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