Who Spends More Time Caring for Baby? Are You Sure?

April Peveteaux
5

work life balanceAn interesting, inevitable article about dads feeling the stress of work/home balance just like moms popped up in The New York Times just in time for Father's Day.

As more dads realize being involved with your child doesn't mean simply providing the money and a pat on the head before bed, they're going to feel the pull of work when they're giving the baby a bottle at 5 a.m., and feel the pull of the baby when they have a long day at the office.

With the release of "The New Dad" study last week, for the first time fathers are complaining about work-life conflict in larger numbers than mothers. Additionally, fathers say they're facing workplace bias when a new baby arrives. Given that we have no national paid paternity leave, and most companies don't offer it either, that should come as no surprise.

Digging in deeper, the article questions couples' perceptions of the home/work load.

In the 2008 Families and Work report, 49 percent of men said they provided most or an equal amount of child care. But only 31 percent of women gave their husbands that much credit. The perception gap continued for cooking and housecleaning — more than 50 percent of men say they do most or half the work; 70 percent of wives say they do all of it.

So who's right? Is dad not counting the preparation that was taken care of by mom before he was able to take the kids on a picnic trip to the zoo? Or is mom looking at the zoo trip as a fun diversion while she's nursing the baby and doing loads of laundry rather than valuable child care?

I'm guessing it's a little bit of both, if my own household is any indicator. I definitely get frustrated if, say, I've organized and shopped for the right home goods and my husband thinks he's taken care of all of our home improvement by nailing the coat hooks into the wall. At the same token, my husband is cleaning up the backyard as he watches the kids play, and I probably don't give him enough credit for taking care of an unpleasant task since all I'm aware of is the squeal of laughter coming in through the window.

Also the article points out that women often have the psychological responsibility of keeping the house organized and the family members prepared, which is a huge burden that goes unnoticed. On the flip side, one expert says that indeed, women underestimate what their male counterparts contribute.

My husband forwarded me this article and while we both agree it rings true, we also had our separate talking points after we read it -- some intertwined, some did not.

Regardless, as the mindset of the modern father changes to make family as much of a priority as mothers traditionally have, their lives will feel as unbalanced as working moms' have always been. Maybe now there will be a massive upheaval in workplace policies in our country.

Do you feel like you work harder on the work/life balance than the father of your children?

 

Image via Pink Sherbet Photography/Flickr

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