Mums Have the Tougher Parenting Gig, says Study

According to a new study, mums have it tougher when it comes to the parental daily grind…if you’re a mother, you’ll probably agree; if not — read the research, pops.

Mother and baby

Conducted by Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, and Minnesota Population Centre, the study included analysed diary data from 2010, 2012, and 2013 American Time Use Surveys – which polled over 12,000 parents. Researchers focused on different types of child-rearing activities and, importantly, on individual parental well-being reported during these activities.

“The good news from our study is that parents generally enjoy being with their kids,” says University of Minnesota researcher Ann Meier, “but the bad news is that mothers enjoy it less than fathers because they do more of the ‘work’ and less of the ‘fun’ parenting tasks.”

Of course, it’s widely documented that modern dads are more involved in family life than their predecessors, with the traditional gender roles blurring as employee policy gets a reality check…sort of. However, it’s still the mums who are stuck doing the majority of the ‘kid stuff’ – and not the fun type. Study authors found that it’s “Mummy” little ones call out for in the middle of the night, or for when they’re suffering one more strain of pestilence that Dad is apparently inept at healing. The end result for mothers is far more interrupted sleep and way less down time than their partners; in other words, “less happiness, more stress and greater fatigue”.

Couple this with the aforementioned increase in how much time we’re dedicating to our children this side of the millennium (mums are spending almost double the amount of time on kid-oriented activities than around fifty years ago), and it seems that the exhaustion and general life dissatisfaction must surely be rising exponentially.

So how do we right the imbalance?

It’s tough to say; new parental leave legislature may be turning towards closing the gap in principle, but the rate of statutory maternity/paternity pay doesn’t quite cut it to allow women a chance to break out of the mould.

Ultimately, the change has to be internal, with dads doing more of the boring bits – if only on occasion – to allow mums to remember that motherhood can have its carefree moments…until someone scrapes a knee, catches influenza, has a nightmare or loses their beloved bunny, that is.