"Overstretched" provides fresh perspectives on the reality of European family life where care and paid work need to be woven together on a daily basis, offering an opportunity to discuss and evaluate care policies in a new light. This is a collection of essays focusing on families who live under strained conditions, such as lone parent families, immigrant families, and families who care simultaneously for both their children and an elderly family member. It is based on interviews with families from Finland, France, Italy, Portugal and the UK. It develops methods for doing comparative qualitative analysis in practice. It offers new insights into the problems of gender balance in caring, and the significance of cultural notions and working hours. It offers an opportunity to discuss and evaluate care policies in a new light.