Work/Life Balance as a Single Adult without Children

Nathan Arnold

It’s 4:45 PM and another workday is coming to a close.  Or at least it appears that the workday is about to end until your boss calls you and Bill into his office. There is an important meeting with a potential customer the next morning and he needs one of you to stay late to help put together the presentation.  Bill is married with a family and quickly explains that he needs to go to his son’s baseball game tonight. You are single without children, but you do have a friend coming in from out of town that you were planning to meet for dinner. Guess who your boss is going to nominate to stay late?

Research supports the perception that single adults without children do not receive the same support in trying to achieve a work-life balance. In a study performed by The Aucklander, 52% of parents felt they were achieving an above average work/life balance compared with 42% of non-parents.  The study also showed that 37% of parents said they experienced above average levels of job burnout compared with 48% of non-parents. A study performed by ResearchGate found that 32% of single adults felt their supervisor was supportive of their non-work issues compared with 41% of married adults.

In my own experience, I observed an inequality in the work-life balance between singles and married adults.  After graduating college as a single adult, I began to work for a large public accounting firm. The hours were long for everyone in the firm, whether single or married.  However, most of the assignments that involved frequent travel went to those who were single rather than those who were married and starting to have families. The firm also encouraged flexible work schedules, but in practice only those with families ever seemed to take advantage of this flexibility.

Perhaps, as a single adult, you are sensing an inequality in the work-life between yourself and your married colleagues.  How should you respond?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • If you haven’t done so already, talk to your supervisor.  He/she may turn out to be supportive of your activities outside of work and be willing to provide the same flexibility given to your married colleagues.

  • If your supervisor is not supportive of your need for a work-life balance, keep a positive attitude and maintain a good work ethic. 1 Corinthians 10:31 states that we should do everything for the glory of God. Having a sour attitude or not giving our best at work does not bring glory to God or lead others to Him.

  • If the problem persists, prayerfully consider looking for another job. Remember that as a single adult, you may have the opportunity to act quicker on a new job than your married counterparts. When I left the large public accounting firm, I was able to accept another position with a company 1,000 miles away. That would have been significantly harder to do if I had been married or had children at the time.

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