但是对于笔者来说，需要应付2个不到8岁的男孩以及随之而来的各种家中让人抓狂的事可以让办公室生涯显得像是在公园里漫步那么轻松。当然我不是指那些和孩子一起散步的时光－ 他们不停地抱怨，打架，捡起狗粪并且问你到底有没有上帝－ 而是另外一种散步，独自一人的那种。还记得那种散步是什么感觉吗？好吧，其实我也不记得了。
美国现代家庭理事会最近测量了成年人的皮质醇水平 － 导致紧张的主要因素－ 发现大多数人在工作的时候这种皮质醇水平比在家时低（也就是不那么紧张）。
宾夕法尼亚大学的Sarah Damaske说：“我们很惊讶地发现甚至为人父母者－ 包括父亲和母亲 － 在工作场合的紧张度要比在家低”。“但是做父母的人到了办公室紧张度降低的程度不如没有孩子的人”。
Are you more stressed at home than at work?
Everyone knows that marriage and parenting is hard work, but who knew it could be harder work than, well, work; more stressful than your day job; and more tedious than being confined to your office cubicle for eight-plus hours?
But for me there are days, or weeks, even months where having to deal with two boys under 8 and the assorted family craziness attached to this domestic set-up that can make work look like a walk in the park. And not the type of walk in the park with kids -- who are moaning, fighting, picking up dog poo, and asking you if there really is a God -- but the other type of walk in the park… the alone type. Remember that? No, me neither.
After talking about a recent perfect family storm to a colleague who also has a wife and two kids, I was surprised to hear his response: “Why don’t you work late more often?” At first I thought he was kidding, but it was delivered sans irony, just two blokes sharing some useful advice.
Really? Spend more time at work? I wondered why I was shocked. Was it that this was “a thing”, or that it was a thing to which I was giving some serious thought, just for a moment?
I have lowered my expectations over time about returning home from work. I know now instead of cracking a beer, hitting the couch and chilling out, I am more likely to be cracking the whip, hitting the roof and singing along to Frozen. But the idea that I would prefer to be at work did give me cause to pause.
It reminded me of something my father once said about a time in my childhood where my mother was unwell, I was no doubt at the age of peak handful (somewhere between birth and moving out), and that sometimes he would stand in the driveway and each step towards the front door would feel heavier somehow, like he was physically mired down in the reluctance.
I get that now; coming home to two rambunctious boys can have me doing the front-door shuffle. But, according to recent research, my dad and my home-shy colleague may have been on to something -- apparently home really is the new work and many of us feel less stressed in the office than in our family lives.
The US-based Council on Contemporary Families (CCF) recently measured the cortisol levels of adults -- a key factor in stress -- and found that most people in the study had lower (ie: less stressful) levels at work than when they were at home.
“We were surprised to find that even parents -- both mothers and fathers -- had lower stress at work than at home,” said Sarah Damaske of the CCF at Penn State University. “However, parents did not experience as big a decrease in their stress levels as non-parents.”
I can unravel that particular scientific mystery for you, Sarah -- just drop around at our place about dinner time.
The Penn State team posited a number of theories, from the value we attach to 'real paid work' (as opposed to real unpaid kids’ lunch-making) and feeling more appreciated, to my favourite one: "We get better at our job with time (hopefully), and the increased competence means less stress and more rewards,” the study said, but “none of us ever truly feels like an expert at parenting or even at marriage.”
It’s true, isn’t it? Every time I feel I have cracked this Superdad gig, my kids seem to find a Lego container full of kryptonite. Home life lacks the structure, clear goals and regular appraisals of work life (and no, I don’t count the fight my wife and I had the other night about how loudly I chew apples as constructive feedback). Work can seem to be more rewarding because it is set up to motivate people; home is just, well, home.
So, perhaps the key is to take a more work-like approach to home life. Instead of going home to switch off, maybe we should arrive back from work to a list of household economic deliverables, a series of family meetings and then we can all get together to diarise the week ahead?
When the junior employees are out of our hair, we could organise a management meeting where we have a one-one-one deconstruction of how the day’s tasks went, work out which juniors are pulling their weight 负责 and which ones might need to be disciplined. We could even follow this with some messing around on Facebook, before we do some bonding over a couple of glasses of wine.
Or as we call it in our house: Wednesday night.