Whether you’re a first-time mom, already planning your mom and toddler Halloween costumes or way beyond the newborn phase, every stage of parenting is a new adventure. When you’re picking out nursery staples or surviving public meltdowns together, having a partner who’s in it for the long haul can help bear some of the burden of parenting. But according to a new study, what parenting means to moms and dads is surprisingly really different.
By analyzing 12,000 parents’ time-use diaries over a course of three years, researchers at Cornell University found that, while both Mom and Dad enjoy parenting, mothers actually carry way more stress about it.
Why? A major factor is because, more often than not, moms are the parent spending more time doing burdensome tasks (think, cooking and cleaning) with the kids while dads spent way more time playing with their little ones.
Kelly Musick, associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell and co-author of the study, said, “It’s not that moms are so stressed out with their kids, but relative to fathers, they’re experiencing more strain.” She also notes that moms are doing more solo-parenting than dads, whose time with the kids usually includes mom too.
To collect the data, participants recorded how they felt and what they were doing during three random periods during a 24-hour day and rated how happy, sad, stressed and tired they felt and how meaningful they considered the activity they were doing. Researchers were then able to compare how the parents felt doing activities with their children to how they felt doing the same kinds of activities without their kids.
Musick hypothesizes that moms end up doing more of the boring, burdensome work because expectations are typically higher for moms, which can hinder moms from putting less pressure on themselves and suggests that, as a society, we rethink what expectations of both moms AND dads are.
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