Study: New dads spend more time relaxing than moms

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An Ohio State study has found that household duties are still mainly handled by a female partner instead of a male partner.

Researchers found three months after a couple’s first child was born, men were most often relaxing while women did housework or took care of the children on non-workdays. On the other hand, while men were taking care of the kids or working around the house, their partners were usually doing the same.

According to the study, women spent 46 to 49 minutes relaxing while men handled child care or housework on their day off. On the contrary, men spent about twice that amount of time in leisure - about 101 minutes - while their partners did work.

"It's frustrating. Household tasks and child care are still not being shared equally, even among couples who we expected would have egalitarian views of how to share parenting duties," said Claire Kamp Dush, lead author of the study and associate professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.

The research includes 52 couples who participated in the New Parents Project, an Ohio State study of mostly highly educated, white, dual-earning pairs from the Columbus area who were having their first child. Dush said she chose highly educated couples where both parents have jobs because she expected those would be the ones to have worked out an equitable schedule.

Researchers had the couples complete time diaries to track their day.

“On workdays, parents are more evenly splitting housework and childcare. It's very much ‘all hands on deck’ but when there is more time available on the weekend and parents are not so pressed to get everything done, then we see the emergence of gendered patterns and inequality where women do a lot more housework and childcare while he leisures,” said Jill Yavorsky, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Dush stressed the need to set a pattern of equally dividing up housework early, so that it becomes second nature.

“At the time we studied them, these couples were setting up routines that may last several years as the kids grow. Couples need to be having these conversations from the first few months," said Dush.

This study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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