Paid leaves as buffer zones: Social policies and work-life balance among Canadian mothers
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In this article, I use in-depth interviews with 26 Canadian mothers to explore their accounts of paid leaves and work-life balance. Drawing from a theoretical framework that emphasizes the structural, cultural, and interactional influences on mothers' experiences, I find that among higher-income mothers, paid leaves serve as "buffer zones" in two ways: they postpone the typical conflict between paid and unpaid work, and they assuage the guilt associated with employment under an intensive mothering ideology. However, low-income and non-citizen mothers have less access to the "buffer zones" of paid leaves, and mothers' reports of work-life balance vary considerably by social class after paid leaves end. Among this non-representative sample, higher-income mothers report the most work-life balance. The paper ends with the implications of this research for the policy and work-life balance literatures.