The Short of It
Two studies suggest parenting and household tasks aren't so equal between moms and dads. There's no denying that today's dads tend to be more involved with their kids than dads of previous generations were. But the mothers are more involved, too. Which suggests there's still a distinct gender divide—and explains why we're completely stressed out despite our partners' help.
Pew Research compared today's dads with those of 1965. Back then, moms with kids at home spent 10 hours per week on childcare, and men in the same situation spent 2.5 hours. In 2011, dads' involvement more than doubled that of dads in the past—they were doing about 7 hours per week.
So moms were doing less childcare right? Nope. Moms in 2011 were spending 14 hours a week on it—4 hours more than they did back in the '60s.
Another study from Ohio State University found that dual-income couples divided chores and household responsibilities pretty evenly—until the birth of their first child. Then, women's workloads increased an average of 2 hours per day, while men's increased only about 40 minutes daily.
"The birth of the child dramatically changed the division of labor in these couples," said Jill Yavorsky, co-author of the study and doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State.
What's more, the parents they studied had high levels of education, and all planned to stay employed after their babies' births.
"These are the couples you would expect to have the most egalitarian relationships," said Claire Kamp Dush, another co-author and an associate professor of human sciences at Ohio State. "They have the education, the financial resources and the other factors that researchers have believed would lead to equal sharing of responsibilities. But that's not what we found."
So, as much as we think things are equaling out, they might not be. I'm thankful dads are playing bigger roles in their kids' lives but slightly appalled it's often taken for granted that moms do more.
The thing is, we can't expect our partners to help out more if we don't ask them to. Mothers need to speak up. If we're both working 40+ hours per week, there's no reason the parenting duties and chores shouldn't be divided up equally if we want them to be.
Also, maybe sometimes we try too hard to be perfect. I say it's okay to leave the dirty dishes in the sink until tomorrow and skip the vacuuming this weekend to do something fun. If your partner is a little more lax than you on the chores, why not adopt a bit of his carefree philosophy yourself?
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