Suzanne Edwards, associate professor of English, and Larry Snyder, professor of industrial and systems engineering, wrote the op ed, "Yes, balancing work and parenting is impossible. Here’s the data," for The Washington Post.
The parents discussed how they struggled to complete their work as professors while home schooling and parenting their children, ages 8 and 12.
"On most days, it feels as if we get a reasonable amount of time to devote to our professional tasks. And yet we are unable to concentrate enough to complete the work," they wrote.
To better understand why nobody at home felt like they were getting the time they needed, they collected data to measure the amount of interruptions they faced from their children within a three hour period.
"We generated a graph that represented when the on-duty parent was working without interruption, when the parent had to stop working to respond to a child and when the second child interrupted the first child’s interruption. Looked at one way, the situation appeared manageable: Over the course of three hours, the parent on duty was interrupted for a little over half an hour in total, meaning they got almost 2.5 hours of work time. But that time didn’t come in two clean chunks: The parent was interrupted 45 times, an average of 15 times per hour. The average length of an uninterrupted stretch of work time was three minutes, 24 seconds. The longest uninterrupted period was 19 minutes, 35 seconds. The shortest was mere seconds," they explained.
Edwards and Snyder discussed their results and policy solutions that could help parents.
The full op ed can be read online at The Washington Post website.