According to a new study just published,
…parenting is more stress and fatigue for mothers. …Mothers spend more time catering to basic childcare chores and fathers spend time playing and getting involved in low-stress leisure activities with their kids. Also, mothers engage in more solo parenting, face more disturbed sleep and get less time for leisure time, which contribute to stress.
This should come as no surprise given the fact that although more women are working, most are still taking on the primary childcare role in the household. Ironically, although the percentage of time mothers spend on paid work went up 13% from 1965 to 2011, the percentage of time they spend on childcare increased as well. Working mothers still prioritize flex time over a high-paying career, while fathers’ preferences often run opposite. It may be the 21st century, but the old adage still rings true: “A man works from sun to sun but a woman’s work is never done.”
Yet, according to recent statistics, that trend may be changing. There are other cultural factors at work that contribute to a mother’s increased stress load when it comes to parenting. For one thing, many fathers are still not being offered paid paternity leave. Major corporations like Amazon, Netflix and Johnson & Johnson are starting to implement generous paid paternity leave packages. However, these packages aren’t always extended to low-wage and hourly workers, and smaller companies can’t afford to create such generous benefits packages at all. Yet, it would seem that paid paternity leave is the wave of the future when it comes to hiring good workers:
Paid paternity leave may be a key workplace benefit for retaining high-skilled workers. In a 2014 study of highly educated professional fathers in the U.S., nine of out ten reported that it would be important when looking for a new job that the employer offered paid parental leave, and six out of ten considered it very or extremely important. These numbers were even higher for millennial workers.
But, having dad in the house doesn’t necessarily mean he’d be fully present. Another reason mothers are so stressed out is that many deal with the burden of modern communication known as smartphones on a daily basis. Another new study released in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics reveals that both moms and dads struggle with tech interference that blurs the line between work and home, social media and family:
Participants consistently expressed an internal struggle between multitasking mobile technology use, work and children, information overload and emotional tensions around disrupting family routines, such as meal time. As one mom in a focus group described it, “the whole world is in your lap.”
Some parents also reported a trickle-down effect. That is, their emotional response to whatever they were reading on their mobile device — whether it was a work email or bad news — sometimes affected how they responded to their children.
Parents also described more attention-seeking behaviors from children when they were heavily attentive to their mobile devices, which prompted negative interactions such as snapping at kids.
In other words, taking the stress off of mom’s plate involves more than offering to take the baby for a walk. Both fathers and mothers need to re-examine how they distribute their time and energy between work and home, responsibility and escapism if they want to cultivate positive relationships and roles as parents.