Close analysis of how parents spend their time finds working dads are under pressure but there is cause for optimism
One if four dads feels they don’t have enough hours in the day.
New gold standard research into how parents spend their time has been released comparing today’s mums and dads with those at the turn of the century.
Surprisingly overall fewer parents feel excessively rushed today than they did nearly 20 years ago. That could be due to more men taking on childcare. With domestic duties more evenly split all parents win.
However the report, by the National Centre for Social Research, found that dads still do nowhere near as much housework and childcare as mums. That’s largely down to men still tending to work full time while more women work part time.
Mums and dads have both moved from reporting that they feel ‘always rushed’ to feeling ‘sometimes rushed’ instead. Which is a kind of progress. 31% of fathers said they felt ‘always rushed’ when surveyed in 2001. In the most recent figures from 2015 that’s fallen to 24%.
However, while 52% of dads said they were sometimes rushed in 2001 that proportion had risen to 63% by 2015.
The detailed analysis goes into what parents do, how they multitask and even how long they spend on different sorts of activity. Men spend longer on leisure time while mums give more time over to housework and personal care.
Intriguingly, the researchers found that flexible working doesn’t really help when it comes to parents time pressure. In households where the dad works full time and the mum works part time the woman doesn’t any experience any let up on the demands on her time. And where parents flex their hours or are self-employed there was also no benefit when it came to time pressure. All that points to the feeling reported by many parents that household tasks simply multiply to fill whatever time is available.
The report’s conclusion is upbeat. It states “That parents’ time pressure along the indicators examined here has not increased in recent years is encouraging.
“The decline in time pressure observed across a number of measures indicate that the substantial changes in work-family policy in the first 15 years of the twenty- first century (including the introduction of funded childcare for all three- and four-year-olds and some two-year-olds, extensions of paid maternity leave, the introduction of paid paternity leave and the right to request flexible work arrangements) may have been successful in alleviating time pressure among parents to some extent. Still, this analysis suggests that time pressure remains particularly high among some parents.”