It’s a complicated issue and it’s quite hard to find a solution that would work for everybody. How can we conciliate family and work? How can we hold everything together and at the same time spend quality time with those we love the most? There’s a different answer for each one of us, the first comprehensive study on the topic, however, was well received by the Washington Post, where an article explained in detail how rather than the quantity, it’s the quality of the time we spend together what matters the most.
Celebrity downshifter Patrick Pichette comes to mind: the former Google CFO a few months ago decided to ‘slow down’, waving the Mountain View giant goodbye in order to spend more time with his family. People reacted to the news pointing out that with Pichette’s income level, making such a decision couldn’t possibly be too hard. My two cents on the matter are that, first of all, one doesn’t need to be a global manager to come to this choice, I bet if you think about it, you’ll find someone you know who at some point has decided to choose family over a career. Secondly, for those who have been in a highly demanding job for decades, stopping suddenly could have some unexpected repercussions and the elimination of one source of stress could generate other, possibly worse, kinds of mental pressure.
What’s the solution? As we said before, quality is what really matters, not quantity. The research mentioned in the WP article also surprisingly highlights how nowadays parents are spending more time with their children than ever. The data collected in fact reveals that today’s fathers spend three times more time with their kids than they did in the past: in 1965 it was an average 2.6 hours a week while in 2010 it had turned into 7.2 hours. The same growth has been observed in mothers: if back in the sixties they used to spend an average 10.5 hours with their offsprings, in 2010 the hours have turned into 13.7. So maybe we have the perfect conditions right now to conciliate quality and quantity, we just haven’t noticed.