I'm an involved dad and a dad blogger. So are a lot of my friends. That means we constantly seek to promote active and involved fatherhood, talk openly about parenting issues in general, regularly change diapers, cook dinners, do laundry, and we NEVER babysit our kids -- because dads are parents, not babysitters. And when we're not doing that, we're battling against deeply ingrained gender stereotypes and false representations that regularly paint women as natural born caretakers and men as uninvolved morons.
This Father's Day, we've got a bone to pick with people.
If you're not aware, Salary.com makes it a point to honor mothers and fathers every May and June by tallying up the number of hours parents spend on weekly household and childcare related tasks, assigning our extensive salary data to each job, and coming up with a "mom salary" and "dad salary" -- essentially letting people know what parents are worth if they were actually paid for their work. We do this by surveying men and women all year long and allowing them to fill in the number of hours they spend on their 10 most time-consuming tasks. Thousands of stay-at-home and working parents took the surveys, and despite having the same jobs, we found a shocking trend that ruffled some feathers in the dad community.
Stay-at-home mothers said they spend an average of 94 hours a week working on the home front, with working mothers clocking in 58 hours a week. So how do dads compare? Our stay-at-home fathers reported 56 hours, with working dads spending a weekly total of 34 hours!
In a nutshell, the dads we interviewed are flabbergasted on several levels. First of all, these numbers mean that stay-at-home moms spend 13.4 hours a day working at home. with working moms logging 8.3 hours a day on household and childcare chores (in addition to 8 hours a day at work). And according to these numbers, stay-at-home moms spend 38 more hours PER WEEK on house and kid duties as stay-at-home dads doing the exact same job. Equally upsetting to dads is the notion that working mothers holding down 40-hour per week jobs spend more time (58 hours a week) taking care of the house and kids than full-time stay-at-home fathers (56 hours a week).
The million dollar question is why does such a discrepancy exist? Are moms inflating their numbers? Are dads really lazy? We asked a bunch of involved fathers and dad bloggers what they think of this time discrepancy and the reasons behind it.
"94 hours is over 13 hours a day! That seems like a drastic over-reporting. It's essentially saying you are "on the clock" ALL DAY. Are moms saying that playing with the kids is work? Then you look at the working moms. Assuming a 40 hour week that's 14 hours a day working. And can we actually include making dinner as a job? I mean we HAVE to eat right? Every meal is considered work. Basically everything is work. I don't think dad thinks that way." - John Willey, www.daddysincharge.com
"I think what we have here is a case of over-reporting, maybe because at-home moms feel the need to show that they are really working hard to combat any negative stigma they may feel or imagine is out there about women who stay home. For the fellas at home, the number probably is more honest a reflection of their time (or we are bad at math) and might come from not caring how we are perceived in society, which is odd because being an at-home dad carries more of a negative stigma than our female (more traditional) at-home counterparts, on balance. I work my tail off to do all the laundry, dishes, vacuuming, gardening, etc. and my weekly household work figure is nowhere near 50 hours a week. But then again, I'm a highly-evolved efficient man-machine. Or something." - Jeff Bogle, www.OutWithTheKids.com
"I think the type of women that you are getting the information from may be only a specific type of person. You probably aren't getting the full spectrum, if that makes any sense. You're getting the stats from women that over-exaggerate, because they are so picky. And most guys aren't. They are more relaxed and generalize stats. Just my opinion." - Kevin Whitehead
"My wife and I had this discussion - who does more etc. I think women file many more tasks under 'parenting' than dads do. I also think a lot of moms love the martyr approach and kind of don't want to share the 'title' of best parent or who does more. My wife does both. I do both. We don't tally it up and compare. It is parenting, not mom vs, dad. If it needs doing, do it. I also think women feel they need to throw around the big number of hours, so they get respect. Like, wow she does it all. Men don't really care to brag about it. That's my opinion." - Michael Cusden, www.likeadad.net
"Staying at home can feel like you are constantly working. I guess it depends on what you view as work. While my washing machine is doing the laundry and my dishwasher is doing the dishes I still had to load them but it didn't take THAT long. Playing with the kids to keep them busy could be viewed as work to some but maybe many dads don't feel that way." - Chris Bernholdt, www.dadncharge.com
"I wonder if there's a systematic difference in accounting methods. One person could do laundry and say it takes them 3 minutes to get the clothes out of the hamper, sort them and put them in the washer, and then another 7 minutes to get them out of the dryer, fold and put away- for a total of 10 minutes. Another could county the laundry as a task that takes an hour, including the washing/drying time. The same thing goes for cooking." - Scott Behson, www.fathersworkandfamily.com
"If I counted as work absolutely every tiny dish or toy or stray piece of construction paper that I picked up around the house, it would add up to a 25-hour day. I suppose it IS part of the job technically but it's also just part of being a member of the family, keeping the house looking less like Chernobyl. I need to start counting those as billable home hours, whereas I had been sticking with just the morning routines, the car pools, the packed lunches, grocery trips, errands, field trips, sports, coaching, dinners, lunches, cleaning.... aghh! Those numbers alone add up each day." - Mike Adamick, www.mikeadamick.com
"This would get me in trouble with my wife, but for us it comes down to different perspectives and priorities. In general I think I'm just a little more laid-back about such household chores; of course, she thinks I'm lazy about them. For example, she doesn't differentiate between clutter and mess. She thinks simple clutter IS mess. I think clutter (as opposed to filth) is easily fixable and will let it accumulate and then clean it at the end of the day, whereas when she sees it, it CONSUMES her and she has to get to it ASAP, every time. And she sees it EVERYWHERE. Whereas since I don't consider it a big deal, I'll just get to it later, all at once. So instead of doing it all in one fell swoop, she is constantly picking up every little thing. Again, it's something I might call time management and she would call me being a slob but in reality we work at different paces and see things differently." - Mike Julianelle, www.dadandburied.com/
"Looking at my own experience in the previous two years of being a SAHD, compared to how my wife was when she was a SAHM before I started being home, I have a couple of theories. 1) My wife will burn the candle at both ends and not allow herself downtime. The house looked great, but she was exhausted and at her wit's end most of the time. When I was home, the important things got accomplished. When I say important things, I mean laundry was taken care of, dishes were done, meals were made, kids were bathed, etc. But I wasn't going to sweat it if the inside of the microwave wasn't spotless or the countertops didn't get bleached once a week. To some people those "little jobs" are must-dos on a regular schedule, to me, not so much. 2) Sometimes things we don't like to do seem to take a lot longer than they actually do. I hate folding laundry for five people, but it really only takes about a half hour, though at the end of it, it feels like it took all day." - Daniel DeGuia, www.deguia.net/
So there you have it. Many dads think moms over-report the amount of time they spend on the house and kids to feel better about themselves, while men are generally more honest and transparent in their reporting. What do you think?