New research shows working dads indulge in a lot more R&R when they’re not in the office than working moms do
In 2017, it’s not just the wage gap that’s an issue — whether you’re a man or a woman could impact how much R&R you take, too.
When working moms and dads are off the clock, fathers enjoy the most time relaxing, compared to mothers who are often busy doing housework, chores, and taking care of the kids, according to a new Ohio State University study.
The study — which primarily looked at white, upper middle class couples in Ohio — found that married women with children take an average of 46 to 49 minutes of leisure time for themselves when they’re not working, whereas men enjoy an average of 101 minutes.
“I was surprised, because my husband and I have a pretty equitable division of labor in our house,” the study’s lead author, Ohio State professor Claire Kamp Dush, told Moneyish. “I thought I would find more times when both partners were doing some kind of [similar] work: He’s putting away the dishes while she’s feeding the baby. And that’s not what we found at all.”
So what defines leisure time, and why are men taking so much more of it? In Kamp Dush’s research, leisure time meant pastimes like playing video games, watching TV, exercising — basically, anything not involved intensive home-, family-, or work-related effort.
“There are still these intensive mothering ideals in the United States. If your mother-in-law comes over to your house and it’s a mess, it’s not your husband who is in trouble — it’s you. Women feel more responsible for childcare and house care, and men feel less responsible,” Kamp Dush said.
When they're off the clock, working dads have it better than working moms https://t.co/IT9EdeXWG1
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) October 10, 2017
Previous research has verified this notion. “When I grew up, fathers were employed out of the home, and mothers tended to the household,” wrote psychiatrist Frederic Neuman in Psychology Today in 2013. “Now things are different. Most mothers work. Household responsibilities must be shared. But they are not shared equally… Women still have primary responsibility for the proper maintenance of the home and welfare of the children.”
That stigma has managed to persist in a time when, according to 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 71% of all women in the US with children under the age of 18 participate in the workforce.
Beth Caveness, a 53-year-old pharmacist and working mom in Wilmington, North Carolina, agrees that gender stereotypes have a big part to play; she also confesses to facing challenges with balancing work and home life during her kids’ teenage years.
“I stayed home with them and didn’t work, and then I had the guilt factor — my husband was working, making money, and I wasn’t,” she says. One day, Caveness finally snapped.
She decided to write her family a letter explaining that, “I can’t be your chauffeur, your cook, your laundress, I can’t keep doing it. You guys have to help me.” And help, they did.
Caveness partly attributes the willingness of women to do the lion’s share of work at home to their maternal instincts. She says that women need to be clear with their significant others about what they need from them in order to run their home and family, even if that reduces potential leisure time.
“A lot of this is about women’s guilt, mothers’ guilt; we have guilt that we’re supposed to do everything,” Caveness laments. But that’s not fair. “Tell your significant other what you need, and when you need time for yourself. It’s about communication.”
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