Parents’ roles blur when they try to balance work with time with kids

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DENVER -- The family dynamic is changing, and bringing with it some new challenges.  In this economy, more mothers are working outside the home, and more fathers are helping with the kids and doing household chores.

Dads like Jack Lyle.  We caught up with him at 6:30 p.m. on a Monday night.  He had just wrapped up work, and was in Centennial watching his son Jake’s lacrosse practice.  He was also keeping a close eye on his younger son, Cooper.

Jack’s wife Christy was out of town on a work trip -- something that happens somewhat regularly.

During those days Jack relies on grandparents, but does just about everything for the kids, and he likes it.

“For me it’s just business as usual.  It’s normal everyday life,” Jack said.  When practice is over, the guys head home and Jack gets dinner doing.  Then it’s time for homework.

A study by the Pew Research Center shows since 1965 fathers have nearly tripled their time spent with their kids and doubled their time spent on household chores.

But 50 percent of those working dads say they find it difficult to balance work and family.  Fifty-six percent of working moms said the same thing.

Jack’s wife, Christy, seems to balance it all pretty well.  She got back from her work trip at midnight Wednesday, but was back in action with the kids Thursday.  Then it was her turn for meals, and homework.

She also got in some good quality time.  Christy is an educational consultant who travels, but when she’s home, she’s not working at all, and she thinks she has the best of both worlds.

“I do feel like I have it all,” she said.

Of course there are those moments of guilt every time she goes to the airport.  “I have cried before, many times,” she said.  “But I love my job and I’m not gone that much.”

Jack says he has moments of guilt too.  He feels bad when he’s with the boys, but tired from working.  “I come home to the kids and I’m tired, exhausted,” he said.

Those are pretty common feelings.  We’d all like to have more time.  But child and family therapist, Dr. Larry Curry, says parents should focus on the quality of time, not the quantity.

“So a mother who can take a few minutes to put their child to sleep at night, and  tuck them in, and just be with the child, and hear the child talk, respond, cry, whatever -- that is invaluable,” Dr. Curry said.

The Lyle family seems to be in a good place, somehow making it all magically come together.  They say some weeks can get chaotic, but life is good -- very good.

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