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Two Lady Artists with Bees in Their Bonnets

17 October 2006

Working Moms Not so Evil After All

The New York Times discusses a new book, “Changing Rhythms of American Family Life,” based on a long-term study on how much time mothers and fathers spend with their kids. The focus of the article is that both men and women are spending more time on childcare than in previous decades, despite women logging more hours in the workplace. But a few other things jump out:

The average amount of time both men and women spend on childcare seems incredibly low. I would like them to define "childcare." Perhaps it's because I have a hyperactive toddler (however, he is in nursery school or with a nanny part of the week), but it seems impossible that parents only spend 10 hours a week on childcare, and this has been the same since the 1960s. When I take my son to the playground or museum or read stories to him or walk around the neighborhood attempting to answer his neverending questions, is that not childcare? I certainly can't seem to get anything else done while caring for him. But perhaps they only count changing diapers, feeding, helping with homework, rocking to sleep in the middle of the night, etc. I assume that must be the case.

This is a pleasant surprise:

The researchers found that “women still do twice as much housework and child care as men” in two-parent families. But they said that total hours of work by mothers and fathers were roughly equal, when they counted paid and unpaid work.

Using this measure, the researchers found “remarkable gender equality in total workloads,” averaging nearly 65 hours a week.

However, towards the end of the article they explain why it doesn't feel quite equal to many working moms, including artists:

While married mothers and married fathers were approaching “gender equality,” measured by total hours of work, the researchers found stark differences among women. These disparities suggest why working mothers often feel hurried and harried.

Over all, the researchers said, employed mothers have less free time and “far greater total workloads than stay-at-home mothers.” The workweek for an employed mother averages 71 hours, almost equally divided between paid and unpaid work, compared with a workweek averaging 52 hours for mothers who are not employed outside the home.

So the article doesn't compare working mothers' total workweeks to working fathers'. I'll dig further and see if the study is available online.


Anonymous ml said...

The best way to survive as a woman is to be ADD and manic on top of it. For those of us who are slugs, I salute those of you who have the energy to have three or four full time jobs.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous melia said...

oh, to be a.d.d. & manic! wouldn't that be wonderful!? then i could get everything done. throw in hyperactive and life would be complete.

11:33 PM  
Blogger This Broad said...

While we're at it, needing no more than 4 hours of sleep per night would also be helpful....

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Rebel Belle said...

One thing that I observed with my husband is how completely and totally his work life and home life is compartmentalized. These boundaries are ironclad. He works at home, and of course he never just "throws a load of laundry into the washing machine", or takes the dishes out of the dishwasher, calls the plumber, or sets up a conference with the teacher, etc. It seems that most women have a very difficult time telecommuting because we feel that these other obligations can't be ignored. Someone has to do them. Guess what!! We do them! That is why I refuse to work at home. My studio is somewhere else.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous stonesthrowaway said...

well this explains why i've felt harried and stressed out...can't epxlain to my hubby who believes that his adjustments are just as big as mine...I suppose they are to him but not in the big scheme ...who is listening?

11:59 PM  

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