Parents spent more time with kids after recession, but will it stick?

Published: Thursday, Feb. 7 2013 6:30 a.m. MST

The recession brought about job loss and massive foreclosure rates, but data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a silver lining in the country’s economic turmoil.

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The recession brought about job loss and massive foreclosure rates, but data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a silver lining in the country’s economic turmoil.

The bureau puts out a detailed list of time spent on primary daily activities in a 24-hour period. The study measures everything from time spent caring for children to the amount of TV watching in the home.

Average hours spent working in 2009 dropped by 0.2 to 3.53 hours from 2008. However, the average time spent caring for and helping children increased by 0.1 to 0.54 hours.

These shifts are due to the recession as more people were out of jobs and had more time to spend with their children, said Jeff Hill, associate professor of family life at Brigham Young University.

But the future of family life is uncertain after the recession.

“It could be as people have taken more time with their children that they have found that intrinsic satisfaction and learned that spending time with them is a worthwhile thing to do,” Hill said.

But, some societal quirks may interfere with time spent with the family.

“We have a more materialistic society with lots of debt,” Hill said in a phone interview. “So, when there are more opportunities for work people may just grab them, which could affect family time in order to pay off debts and have more things.”

Hill says work has become more invasive as telecommunications become more advanced, which has also cut into family time.

“It’s easier to work from home now than there ever has been,” Hill said. “I can’t make a definite prediction, but I can see trends going either way. I hope we choose family over money.”

A recent survey found that parents are craving workplace flexibility, according to a Deseret News article by work-life balancing columnist Greg Kratz.

FlexJobs, an online service for flexible, part-time, telecommuting and freelance job listings, surveyed 725 parents in its “Parents & Work” study.

Eighty-one percent of respondents said they were “very optimistic” that they could be both great employees and great parents. Nearly all respondents, 97 percent, said a flexible job would help them be better parents.

"One common example of that work-life conflict is sick children," said the FlexJobs press release about the survey. "Eighty-one percent of parents have missed work to take care of a sick child, and 58 percent have worried about losing pay or their job because of it.

"As a result of this fear, 42 percent of parents have chosen to miss important events in their children's lives, and 57 percent have used sick time or paid time off to attend those events."

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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