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Moms eye part-time jobs to achieve work-life balance

How families can get more face time and companies can retain top talent.

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If you're a working mother, you're far from alone in feeling overwhelmed. Along with grueling work hours, data show you can face discrimination at work because of the conflicting demands of motherhood. And all the while, social pressures are mounting on you to be a perfect parent.

So it shouldn't surprise you that more working mothers see part-time, rather than full-time, work as the ideal employment situation.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that when working mothers were asked about their "ideal" situation, only 21 percent cited full-time work, down from 32 percent in 1997. Instead, 60 percent of this year's respondents cited part-time work as "ideal," up sharply from 48 percent a decade earlier, while 19 percent of employed moms this year said they'd prefer not to work outside the home at all.

Of course, many mothers can't afford to scale down to part-time work – if they can even find it. But the mounting appeal of that arrangement highlights the extent to which today's conditions beleaguer working moms.

Not only are they expected to meet corporate America's drive for productivity – and all the demands that entails – but they're also counted on to play a key role in their children's lives. All the while, some moms also may be caring for aging parents.

Often, there aren't enough hours in the day to juggle all these tasks, says Marlene Star of Westchester County, N.Y.

She knows the toll full-time work can take on family life. The mother of three, who works as an editor in New York City, says she doesn't get enough face time with her kids. "I don't know the names of all my children's friends and I wouldn't recognize them if I bumped into them. I don't know their parents – or my children's teachers – as well as I would like. I also can't pick up the kids after school. There is a lot of being in touch that I don't have" as a full-time employee. But with part-time work, "there would be many school events and parent interactions I could get involved with."

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