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When Mother Joined The Commute

HOW IT ALL BEGAN Commuting to work is a modern phenomenon that began in earnest just after the Second World War and the development of Levittown, that community of houses that looked all the same and supplied housing for newly begun families of returning soldiers and their wives. To find tracts of land to build these developments, Levitt moved out of the city proper and into the countryside, close enough for the automobile to bring workers into the city to work, but far enough away to build on cheap land. Families, looking for a better life, moved to these houses with all their “modern” conveniences and space for the children to play. It was the late ‘40’s and the ‘50’s, so mother stayed home with the children and father went out to work, driving the family car to the city. This became the aspiration of all young couples. As the needs and wants of these young families increased, mothers began to work, first , in traditionally female jobs such as nursing, secretarial and teaching, close to home and available if their children, who were now in school, needed them.

Another exodus occurred as housing again became expensive. This time, widespread ownership of the automobile allowed the father to commute to the city to work. Mother stayed at home, isolated from adult companionship for very long periods of time. Finally, mother joined the commute to higher paying employment and the long distance commute was complete. Today, the commute goes on.

Cars, trains, buses, planes, ferries-all bring the commuter to and from work. The commute has been a great boon to people, not only has it allowed them to choose where to live, but it has allowed them to work in more lucrative jobs while buying houses that have more value for the dollar. There has been, however, a price to pay. Commuters lose this block of time each day, they become more stressed as the time increases, they fall to physical illness because of the commute, they become separated from the daily flow of the family and friends, they start work already stressed and find it affects their output. The mother commuter has added the additional burden of the commute to her other work. She continues, in most households, to be the homemaker who runs the house and cares for the health and welfare of the family. WHERE IT’S GOING No doubt the long distance commute will stay with us. But an interesting thing has happened along the way - the home worker. Some people are starting home businesses to avoid the commute, to save expenses and become more involved in the household. Others have worked out arrangements with their companies so that, thanks to the computer, at least part of their work time is done from home.

The trend is for this to increase. There is even a bigger push among women to find a way to work from home. But before you make a decision, do be aware of the pros and cons of working from home. Some find it difficult to separate work and nonwork and feel like they are always working, or at least on call all the time. Others find it difficult to remove themselves from the activity of the household to get their work done. Still others complain of the isolation of working at home and of missing the interaction of the workplace. None of this is insurmountable, but they do need to be addressed.


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