Married Parents Use of Time 2003-2006

A recent article in the June/July edition of Working Mother magazine pointed out that “Men contribute more to household work and child care than they did 45 years ago – by a large margin.”  While this may be true, a recent study, Married Parents’ Use of Time, 2003-06, posted by the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that there is still a gap. 

The study shows that married fathers spend an hour more at work than married mothers on average.  Married mothers had increased likelihood of providing care to the family’s children than married fathers by 21%.  On an average day, married mothers working full time are 25% more likely to spend time on household activities like cooking, yard care and cleaning than the married fathers working full time. There is also an imbalance of leisure time among married men and women who work full time.  On average, the men got close to an hour more of leisure time per day than the women.

What does this say about how men and women use and place value on their time?  Many complain about the uneven division of labor, but some are proactively trying to change it.  The Web site Equally Shared Parenting authored by Marc and Amy Vachon who have been featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Today Show and NPR.  In reading their site and various articles on this theme, a common thread is some women’s challenge with letting go and letting their husbands do things their own way.  Hmmm…there might be some truth to that.  Maybe you just need to decide – is it more important for the time to be more equal or more important that the laundry is folded “just so” or that the dishwasher is properly loaded?  What standards are you willing to shift in order to make time spent on the business of raising a family more equal between partners?

Will everything ever be 100% equal?  Probably not.  The key is that both parents continue to work together to find the right fit for their family.  Not happy with the division of labor?  Keep talking!
(C) 2008 Laura Stack.