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9 Mar, 2012

New Report Strives to Help Women “Reclaim Their Free Time”


NEW YORK, March 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The results of a new groundbreaking national survey, Women and Time: Setting a New Agenda, commissioned by Real Simple and designed by the nonprofit Families and Work Institute reveal that much of the time pressure experienced by women is self-imposed, due to trouble delegating and letting go of control. However, the survey also discovered that women who set aside regular free time are ultimately more satisfied with their lives (50% report being very satisfied, versus 41% 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,” said Kristin van Ogtrop, Managing Editor, 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.”

While 49% of women say they do not have enough free time, the culprit is not their jobs. In fact, 68% of women say that work does not interfere with their personal lives. And with recent research showing that men are helping more with household chores and childcare than ever before, why are women so stressed out?

For many women, there is a palpable feeling of guilt: 32% of married/partnered women often feel that if they did less around the house, they would not be properly taking care of it.

Interestingly, money is not necessarily a barrier to relieving many women of their responsibilities, with nearly half (45%) of respondents saying they would not hire more household help if they could afford it, and nearly 69% saying that they would not hire more child care if they could afford it.

The women surveyed reported doing tasks, including laundry (79%), cleaning (75%), cooking (70%) and organizing/de-cluttering (62%), 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%), managing the finances (59%) or organizing/de-cluttering (53%) to their spouse or partner. In some cases, women are more likely to delegate daily chores to their children (17%) than to their spouse (9%).

“In order to reclaim – and enjoy – our free time, it’s critical that we shift our standards,” said Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder, 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.”

Real Simple and Families and Work Institute set out to examine how women manage their time, especially their free time, defined as “time you spend on yourself, where you can choose to do the things that you enjoy.” The nationally representative survey of 3,230 women ages 25 – 54 was conducted in October and November 2011 using an online questionnaire.

For a free Executive Summary, please click here.

Real Simple’s latest groundbreaking study was conducted in collaboration with the Families and Work Institute. Its findings will be revealed in Real Simple’s April issue.

Families and Work Institute (FWI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that studies the changing workforce, family and community. For more information, visit http://www.familiesandwork.org.