Would women earn more if they did less at home?

6873738692_59bd4af880_mIt’s an article of faith among Americans that we are overworked. We work long hours at our paid jobs, then come home and put in a long second shift. Mothers, in particular, perceive their combined work and childcare hours as extensive, leaving us starved for time — a starvation that we sometimes assume our husbands don’t face. One thing that keeps us from leaning in is that the demands of home make that impossible. But does the data bear that out?

For the average American, I think the perception deserves a rethink. The Pew Research Center released its analysis, today, of last year’s American Time Use Survey, and compared it with historic time diaries analyzed by Suzanne Bianchi and her colleagues (and published in Changing Rhythms of American Family Life in 2006 — a book I used extensively in writing 168 Hours).

First, a data point that needs to be shouted to the rafters. Mothers in dual-income households today — who work on average more than 30 hours per week for pay — still do more childcare than mothers in 1965, who worked on average 8 hours per week.

Where did they find the time? Well, it turns out that paid work and childcare are not the only things that women spend their time on. They do housework, for instance. In 1965, mothers did 32 hours of housework per week (according to the Pew analysis) while mothers in dual-income couples now do 16 hours. So that’s 16 hours right there than could be added to the work total, bringing us up from 8 to 24 without losing a second of interactive time with the kids. Then, working mothers appear to have cut into their leisure time to a degree. If women worked 51 hours per week (combining market and non-market totals) in 1965, women in dual-income families now work 59 hours per week. So they moved 8 hours of leisure time over into the work and childcare categories, thus giving us something pretty close to the totals in the Pew study now (if you work in rounding). While a loss of leisure perhaps sounds dire, keep in mind that if you sleep 8 hours per night, a 59-hour workweek still leaves 53 hours for things other than work, chores, or childcare.

Women and men in dual-income couples have pretty much the same total workweeks, when you add market and non-market hours. Men work 58 hours (42 for pay, 9 on housework, 7 on childcare) vs. women’s 59. The difference is that they’re getting paid for 11 more of those hours than their wives are.

It raises an interesting question: if women did less on the home front, would that make more paid work hours possible? There’s certainly the narrative out there that women’s equality in the workforce requires men to pick up the slack at home. Sheryl Sandberg’s book quotes a famous line from Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter about what men could do to help advance women’s leadership: “The laundry.”

Given how matched the total hours are for men and women, this seems like a tantalizing possibility. If men and women both did 12 hours of housework and 10 hours of childcare, that would even those loads and then both could work the same number of total hours for pay and still have the same total workloads.

But there’s also another possibility, which is that many categories of time are fairly elastic. The combined housework work-weeks for men and women in 1965 was 36 hours. For dual income couples now it is 25 hours, and yet we have not descended into complete filth and sloth. One reason I like writing about women’s magazines from the 1960s is to show how ridiculous the cleaning and cooking standards were then. Dusting daily? Waxing the floor weekly? As it is, men who find themselves in dual income couples these days have more than doubled the amount of time they spend on housework since 1965, even as their paid workweeks have stayed the same, and they’ve tripled the amount of time they spend with their kids. Do they really need to do more?

Or could mothers just do less?

The latter seems like an easier option. If working mothers did the same amount of childcare that women did in 1965 — trusting that the tripling on the part of fathers helps make up for that — and did the same amount of housework their husbands do now (9 hours per week) that would free up 9 hours for paid work. That would get the average working mother up to 40 hours per week, pretty close to fathers in dual income couples. I am not sure that the care of a house really requires more than 18 combined hours a week. That’s more than 2.5 hours per day.

As it is, modern working mothers seem pretty sure they’re already doing a good job on the home front. According to Pew, among moms with kids under age 18, who work full or part-time, 78 percent say they are doing an excellent or very good job as parents. There is space to lean in if people want. Now, whether people want to is an entirely different question. But it’s not a matter of lacking time.

Note to new readers: With Women’s Money Week last week and the news around Lean In this week, I’ve been doing a lot of posts on gender and work. I do write about other things! We’ll be back to a more varied schedule in the next week or so. Though, wow, these kinds of posts do seem to get the most comments!

Photo courtesy flickr user seanmfreese

49 thoughts on “Would women earn more if they did less at home?

  1. I think this is basically an excellent point. Within reason, housekeeping standards can be relaxed, especially relative to the 1950s and 1960s. However, I’m also interested in data on another type of housework, not just the little daily things like vacuuming and dusting, but the overall organization, storage, management of possessions in homes.

    While you are correct, most people haven’t descended into “complete filth and sloth,” I suspect (and would love to see more data) that the amount of clutter, general disorganization, and outright hoarding has increased. I am a little sensitive to this topic because I have a relative who is a hoarder, and it’s kind of horrifying to visit him, and a little scarier yet to ponder the fact that my husband and I will eventually inherit, and be responsible for that house, which cannot be sold in its current condition, unless at a huge loss as a “fixer-upper.”

    While this is an extreme case, I’ve been noticing a similar phenomenon as my cohort ages and starts to face the issues of aging parents who may be downsizing or moving to assisted living. What to do with 30 or 40 years of accumulated, disorganized, possibly hoarded stuff, and a house that has fallen into serious disrepair, is becoming an increasingly common and difficult question.

    I don’t know if this has changed over the past generation or so, or how much, but when my grandmother (born in 1925) passed on a few years ago, the “junk” that had to be organized and sorted through and passed on by her children was not that burdensome compared to what I’ve seen for people born in the 1940’s and 50’s, and as for what today’s families, born in the 60’s and 70’s, have and will some day need to perhaps organize, or even just dispose of, there is no comparison at all. It’s an order of magnitude of difference, if not 2 or even 3 orders of magnitude.

    And I think it matters a lot to your quality of life, how you deal with this stuff while you’re just in the middle of living your life. How do you organize your tax files? How do you save your kids’ artwork? What do you do with scrapbooks and ticket stubs and photos? Where does the junk mail go when it comes in? How do you decrease the amount of stuff that comes in in the first place? How do you deal with, store, or dispose of, hand-me-downs and kids clothes and holiday decorations, with gifts (wanted or un), with wrapping paper, with books, magazines, and newspapers? With old computers and hard drives and floppy disks with outdated formats and the data thereon?

    For me, managing this kind of thing takes quite a bit of time. But, it’s never really urgent, so both partners can put it off essentially indefinitely. And, it moves and changes slowly and incrementally so you barely notice it until it gets really out of hand, and sometimes not even then. People apparently can learn to “not see” stacks of newspapers in their living rooms that are higher than their heads, as long as they can dig a path to the couch. People can live with leaky roofs and nonfunctioning appliances and closets they never open, as long as they have a space, however small, that’s liveable to them.

    There have always been hoarders, and it’s not a new phenomenon, so it’s possible that there has been no change, and I’m just noticing a statistical anomaly unique to my time, place, and demographic. But I think it’s a subject that would merit further research. I mean, why is “decluttering” such a big topic? Why have paid organizing services proliferated? Why is Flylady so popular? Why is there now a reality TV show called “Hoarders”?

    People may find that it’s a priority to them to keep their life less cluttered and more organized, but I think often it’s not really a choice, it just “happens,” invisibly, as both men and women decide to cut back on non-urgent housework. And by the time it becomes urgent, and visible, it has become a big scary (and potentially costly) time-consuming job.

    And, I think, a lot is lost along the way. That phenomenon–cutting out non-urgent organizational home chores–is what I think is at the root of what was observed in the study you wrote about last year (“How having too much stuff wastes your time”). Sure “having too much stuff” is a problem, but I also think it results from not paying proper attention to the stuff you have that you actually wanted–not just the material possessions, but the mementos of precious experiences and memories. Is there a point to earning more money if you can’t even pay attention to what you already have?

    1. @Karen- Thank you for this comment and analysis. Decluttering is definitely a huge topic, and one that women’s magazines seem to cover frequently, so I’m not sure if it’s something that’s required more now, or we’re just aware of it. I haven’t seen much research in this. I know we try to minimize what comes in the door, and get rid of papers quickly (the newspaper needs to be gone in 3 days… magazines mostly within a month). I haven’t figured out the artwork issue yet!

      1. Right, I haven’t seen much, if any, research on it either, and I’d be curious if it’s just my impression or a real trend.

        The magnitude of the issue didn’t really hit me either until the past few years, as stuff in my own house hit a critical mass, my grandmother passed away, my parents downsized, and at the same time I started to see friends have to clean out loved one’s houses after they passed on.

    2. Karen, you and your husband can simply “disclaim” your inheritance if you’d rather not deal with your male relative’s house problems. You do have a real choice in the matter, so try not to worry.

      1. @hush, Unfortunately, my husband wouldn’t want to do that because it’s his blood relative, not mine. He may end up just throwing money at it in the end to make it go away. I think that will work–but hopefully it won’t be too much money.

        This is really one area where I see a lot of continuing inequality. My husband does quite a bit of housework of the kind I think is being discussed here: he does laundry, he does dishes, he mows the lawn, he carries the garbage and recycling to the curb, he scrubs showers and toilets, he even dusts occasionally (more than I do). But what he doesn’t do is big picture organization. He doesn’t schedule, plan ahead, make appointments or phone calls, use a calendar regularly, create or maintain systems for organization, storage, or disposal. He’ll often do housework that I ask him to do, but I have to recognize and define the need, brainstorm and evaluate the potential solutions, figure out how to implement it, schedule it, and then communicate all that information to him in a clear, cheerful way. So it feels very one-sided, even if he ends up doing a reasonable amount of legwork in the end.

        And I notice that same division of labor–woman is “in charge” and man “helps” with carrying out the physical labor–in most of my friends and acquaintances who are in male/female couples, no matter what their work status, no matter whether they have kids or not.

        I think it would be tremendously helpful to wives who work outside the home, especially to those who have a managerial and organizational component to their jobs outside the home as well, if their husbands would shoulder some of that cognitive and organizational load at home. Not so much the laundry or the dishes.

        1. @Karen – I would imagine some of this is the last vestiges of “housework” and “childcare” being viewed as the woman’s job and not the man’s. If she’s the primary parent, then the management goes through her. But I would imagine in homes where she isn’t (if dad is specifically at home with the kids, or their split is that this is his role) then the management would go through him. Although anecdotally, I have seen that SAHDs often don’t take on the housework job as fully as a SAHM would do. They just don’t see that as part of the same job — something that moms could perhaps learn from…

          1. I don’t know if this is a generalization that can be made across gender, but it is definitely true in our house. I’m one of those people who just can’t deal with visual clutter – it makes me a little twitchy 😉 so I’ve noticed I run the dishwasher a lot more often than hubby did when he was home and it was solely his job.

            But even if/when I start working from home, I’ll still be bothered by the mess, and spending all day in the house makes it harder for me to just ignore it. Perhaps I need therapy to get it to bother me less 😉

  2. While I see your general point about time usage and cleaning standards, the assumption that mothers are married is hugely problematic in a culture in which something like 25% of all children are raised by single parents.

    As a single mom, my time can only be freed up by paying someone else to do those chores…and I can’t really afford to do that.

    1. @gwinne – I think the single mother point shows how malleable housework hours really are. Bianchi et al analyzed single mothers, too. Single mothers spend less time on housework than married mothers, even though there’s not a second party bumping up the total. For 2000 (the last year Bianchi et al analyzed for their book) single moms did 16.8 hours of housework as a primary activity; married mothers did 19.4 and married fathers did 9.7. Given that many single mothers have perfectly well-run homes, it would seem that The total hours could in fact go down to 17-18 just fine. That’s obviously a different point than what you’re making (you can’t shift it without paying; you have to minimize or not do activities in order to lower your total) but I think it’s an interesting data point from the perspective that totals could go lower for married couples.

      1. I’d guess my total comes in at much less than that, depending on what counts as “housework”… I assume that’s not childcare, but things like cooking, cleaning, etc?

      2. But single parents have one less adult in the household (duh) so I think that means there’s less mess in general (dishes, laundry, clutter) so it seems like they’d do less housework by a bit just because the household is smaller.

        1. Really faulty logic here. There’s one of me, two kids. So that’s two people who make a huge mess and only one to clean up. Or do adult men really make more mess than one-year-olds?

          1. Yes, I think adult men (and women) do make a sizeable mess on their own, and people with a partner in the household often end up spending time cleaning up after each other. Or there’s just more STUFF lying around. I’m not saying it’s dramatic, but can explain some of the discrepancy.

    2. I wish you great romance but of course one of the good things is that if you are the only adult in charge and you wan to let laundry pile up your spouse isn’t around to criticize it… married women don’t like to talk about it but a lot of people don’t like to see laundry everywhere.. my husband and i agree to let it sit on the coach .. but if it goes strewn about the floor .. he becomes bothered… so the kids and I can think it is great mountains of clean clothes but we have that pressure there… I still leave clothes and work and self actualize and I’m glad for a husband who loves me… but you could always look at it this way… the single parent really has no boss !!

  3. I think the single mom point is a huge one, particularly when there are very young children involved.

    The other thing that irks me when we start talking about time use for all mothers is the very real difference in ages of children. A mom with kids over the age of 6 or so will have the kids in school for a good portion of the day and then potentially be able to send them outside to play with neighborhood children (if they aren’t all being shuttled off to activities or in after school care programs) but the childcare time required (as you very well know) for littler ones is very different.
    I highly doubt the mothers of the 1960s with children under 4 were doing all of that housework without children underfoot.

    1. @Calee- I need to show you the article from a 1963 Good Housekeeping on how a mother was supposed to keep a nursery spotless. Dry mop it daily; sponge it down including the woodwork, etc.
      But beyond that, what I like about these total numbers is that they do remind people that kids aren’t little for that many years. If you’re interested, the ATUS does break down numbers to show differences for mothers of kids under age 6. The total childcare hours are still lower than many people think. Parents don’t spend that much time interacting with their children, on average.

  4. For anyone interested, I recommend Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson, a professor whose husband uses a wheelchair. It’s from a Christian viewpoint.

    I think the greatest loss is home-cooked food. My mother and grandmother gardened, canned and cooked. I cook. I think the lack of meal planning and preparation is unhealthy for Americans, and it is the most time-consuming of my household chores.

    One of the problems with time diaries is that all time is put into one bucket. I planted peas with my sons. This would not count as time interacting with my children in a time diary, it would count as gardening. But they were helping me, finding worms, etc. I think the time women used to spend with their children while doing other tasks is still valuable time, even though it would not necessarily count as “interactive.”

    1. @TG – You should take a look at some of these magazines from 1963 I’ve got in my office. Ladies’ Home Journal has a multi-page spread on “The Magic of Mixes” — how you can incorporate all sorts of canned and convenience food into more elaborate dishes. In other words, people served junk in the old days, too. It was just more time-consuming junk. Personally, I go for stuff like a piece of salmon, cooked stove top in olive oil or baked, and lots of green beans. Very, very quick. Healthy, too. Meal planning and prep doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

      1. I would probably enjoy the magazines, but I doubt they are any more truly representative than Real Simple is representative of today’s life.

        I’m in conversation with a friend who has a PhD from MIT, consults and is single and childless. Because she consults, she can actually turn her time into money. It’s helping me understand your point of view better.

        Certainly not having to grow and can/freeze the green beans yourself saves a lot of time.

        1. Currently rereading the I hate to cook cookbook by Peg Bracken– it shows a very different side to cooking and housekeeping during that era. Yes, lots of “pour can of X and can of Y over …” but nothing elaborate. Plus cute tips like how a garnish like parsley or paprika or Parmesan (whichever is a contrasting color to the dish) makes it look like you did something more elaborate.

  5. The though of spending 32 hours doing housework is absolutely mind-boggling to me. The only things I spend 32 (or more hours on in a week) are working and sleeping, both of which are far more rewarding!! In fact, I would say that I spend far less than 16 hours a week on housework – but that’s because I pay somebody to do that for me. When I went back to work after my 3rd child, when many assumed I would not, I was asked incredulously by an obnoxious male colleague (well, really an underling who wanted my job, but that’s a story for another day) as to why I’d come back when my husband is a lawyer and makes lots of money. (I’ll just let the rudeness, sexism and assumptions of his comment sink in for a moment – okay, moving on…) I told him it was because I never wanted to have to clean my toilets and because I enjoyed watching him put his foot in his mouth. He was subsequently fired – not for this incident, but still, I must admit it was a wee bit satisfying!!

    1. Jean Kerr, a famous writer back in the 1960s (married to play critic Walter Kerr… you may remember the Doris Day movie based on her hilarious book, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies), wrote about why she worked. It was specifically because she didn’t want to have to get up in the morning and with 3 kids, she couldn’t sleep in unless she could afford to hire a nanny, and she couldn’t afford a nanny unless she brought in money. Brilliant.

    2. I’m really glad you put that person in his place! Your comment made me laugh, though. It perfectly captures my discomfort with many comments regarding the time/value of money and outsourcing: I never want to turn into the person who thinks that because I make a certain amount of money that I am above cleaning my own mess, particularly the kitchen or bathroom. And worse still, I don’t want my children to think that because their parents make a certain amount of income, they do not have to clean up their own messes.

      As far as Real Simple, I read a friend’s copy once. That magazine doesn’t speak to me in the least.

      Laura, just posting this link as I thought you might find it interesting. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/more-fathers-than-mothers-say-they-arent-spending-enough-time-with-their-kids/2013/03/13/1f969de8-8bf9-11e2-b63f-f53fb9f2fcb4_story.html
      Same data you posted, but from a different vantage point.

      1. I want to be clear — we do have someone who comes in to clean our home. It’s comments about placing a monetary value on one’s time, in this context, that make me wince.

      2. @WG – I agree. I also feel a lot of discomfort about my children making any assumptions in this regard, which is why my husband and I are trying hard to make sure they have certain of their own chores, responsibilities, etc. They need to be able to do things for themselves. That being said, I think it’s an altogether different story for me. I am not above doing my own cleaning. In fact, for many years, I did just that. However, it’s not the best use of my time (or my competencies, as Laura would call it). I don’t particularly enjoy it and, while I do a decent job, am not some housekeeping expert. By contrast, I’m the only one who can mother my children and keep my own body fit. While I’m not likewise irreplaceable at work, I’m very good at what I do, enjoy it and get paid well. So, I feel absolutely no guilt in paying somebody to do my cleaning. Anyway, I hope that clarifies. I don’t think I was putting a monetary value on my time. But I will admit that I don’t enjoy housework, so I have to work partly so that I can pay for that outsourcing. What’s wrong with saying that?

        1. I remember hearing Marie Osmond speak on Oprah about her children. Marie had a housekeeper to clean her bedroom and other personal areas, but the kids had to clean their owns. So we as women can have the benefits of the hard work we’ve done to reach a point to afford help and still teach our children to be responsible.

  6. I probably spend an 45 mns- an hour or so per weekday on “housework” – things like making the bed in the morning, tidying up, meal prep and clean up. On weekends I do spend more time (that’s when I do the laundry and grocery shopping and some of the meal prep for the week). I probably spend 10-12 hours/week on housework. We don’t have kids, though, so there are fewer messes!

    I have been trying to let myself have my husband do some of the work. For example, he’s perfectly content to do his own laundry. However, I have it in my head that a “good wife” does her husband’s laundry, so it’s hard for me to let that go. He’s also willing to vacuum, plan meals, etc – I just have to ask, and I forget to do that, which is weird.

    I am working on ways to streamline my housework while at the same time keeping my/our home comfy for me. While my husband is not bothered by clutter, I am, so I’m working to eliminate that. I’m also planning simpler meals and that kind of thing.

    I did actually get quite the lesson in less housework = more money over the past two years. Two years ago, I decided to enroll in a two-year program that would give me more formal knowledge of my field. Class time was only one night/week, but of course there was study time on top of that. I had to consciously choose to study/spend time on my career, rather than doing housework. Yes, it meant that dishes piled up sometimes. But after a year of classes, I was promoted at work and given a significant raise. I was hoping the classes would lead to that, but there were no guarantees. So, for me, less housework did (indirectly) lead to more money.

    I also fight the temptation to fill all of my “free” time with housekeeping-type chores. I was taught an ethic of “work before play” in all circumstances and it’s really hard to pull away from that. However, I get really grouchy (and everything suffers) when I don’t have at least some time every day to relax with a book or my knitting. So I’m working on making a conscious effort to put self-care ahead of housework.

    1. @Pamela – congrats on the promotion! Time can be spent in many ways, but in general, time invested in building one’s career will pay off in more money and advancement. Not always, but often. The house would have just gotten dirty again the next day, but you got your promotion.

    2. We had some trouble with the “work before play” thing and never having play time come… we solved it by having a chores schedule. We divided things up by days, so that we could ignore things on other days. Here is an old post about that: http://www.wandering-scientist.com/2010/01/housework-logistics.html
      We have increased the frequency of our cleaner and just gotten better at ignoring chores since then, so we no longer use a schedule, but it was a big help for awhile.

      1. @Cloud – I just read that post and the thing that stuck out for me is that at the time you wrote it your baby was going down to sleep at night without a hitch. Did something change??? Ah, the joys of parenting — nothing lasts, not even the good stuff.

        1. Yes, Petunia used to go to sleep really easily. That stopped at about 8 months, if I remember right! Her bedtimes now take 30-60 minutes. But she sleeps through the night most nights.

  7. Here are a couple of thoughts having worked full-time, part-time, at home, and been a stay at home mom.

    * If you’re home, you will do more housework and not because you’re being a 1950s mom and cooking elaborate dishes and cleaning your floor to the point where you can eat off of it. When you’re home, you eat most of your meals at home (vs going out to lunch) and wash the dishes you’ve used. If you have kids at home (vs at school or daycare), those kids create more housework.

    * Teach your kids how to do housework that is age appropriate. Kindergarteners can set and clear the table. Middle schoolers can do laundry. My teens do dishes, vacuum, dust, and clean bathrooms. (And in my experience, they create less mess if they know they have to clean it up.) They get paid but not as much as a real cleaning service.

    * Decide how much time you have to do housework and then be as efficient as possible with that time. It’s so easy for me to putter around… so I learned to set a timer and race the clock to get done so I have time for more pleasurable things.

    * I agree that it’s hard to classify time in one bucket, especially if spend any part of your day with young children. You take your kids grocery shopping, chatting about what you see there and teaching them to help bag groceries. You wash dishes while your child dries them and you talk about life. Childcare or housework?

    * I actually don’t mind housework. Because I have a creative job, I sometimes get my best ideas while I sort socks. I do hate feeling like the maid and being taken for granted. (Thus, my kids now wash their own towels after picking mildewing ones off the floors too many times.)

    * I may not do as much housework as my mom did, but I spend more time on things like investigating summer camp options for my kids (to fill their time while I work) and sitting at their sports events and band concerts.

    1. @Marci – I suppose that a parent and kids at home can create more mess but I’m not sure it has to be a huge addition of time. I work at home and my cooking and cleaning is never more than a few minutes. Same with the kids at lunch. Cut up the fruit and carrot sticks, but peanut butter or something else on a bagel or sandwich and we’re good to go. You also don’t have to clean up after the kids during the day (you or whoever is caring for them). If the kids came home from school/daycare, they’d make a mess then too. What’s the point of cleaning it multiple times per day? Or even every day? The toys will just come out again.

  8. There are numerous simple tasks even 2 1/2 year olds can do around the house to save you time, as well as making the child feel helpful and needed. There’s a book originally published in 1968 called “Teaching Montessori In The Home: The Pre-school Years” by Elizabeth G. Hainstock. Her 1968 work list for 2 1/2 to 5-year-olds includes: dusting, folding napkins, setting the table, and washing dishes. For 3 to 5-year-olds: washing the table, sweeping the floor, polishing silver, and shining shoes.

    I hardly ever hear of parents today encouraging their 2 1/2 to 5-year-olds to do any real chores, even though they are fully capable of doing them. We as a society just do not expect that of them.

    1. @hush – what’s kind of fun about that list are the items that no one in my house does, whatever age. Shining shoes, polishing silver, folding napkins… Another data point for the trend of the decline in housework standards over the last 45 years!

    2. I’m a mostly-stay-at-home mom and the women I know do expect their young children to do chores, even when it makes it take longer. (That’s part of the problem with time use- sweeping the kitchen floor wouldn’t take so long if I didn’t have three uncoordinated sweepers helping me) I put fabric dots in our (all white) socks to facilitate laundry sorting/folding by my young children.

      As teens, these children are also more likely to take menial jobs doing yard work, etc. than those with two working parents.

      I’m not sure what the balance is, but there is something to be said for willingness to do grunt work when nothing else is available. Laura had a book on this called Grindhopping, I think.

      1. That’s really weird because growing up I found exactly the opposite among my friends– those with working moms did more housework and those with SAHM didn’t know how to do anything (and their moms baked cookies– if I wanted cookies I had to make them myself). I was always shocked at their lack of helping out around the house or knowledge of how to do anything.
        Well, that’s not quite true, now that I think harder. Most of my friends were boys. The girls I knew with SAHM did a lot of housework and waited on their brothers. Wonder if it’s the decade, the location, or the SES that’s the difference.

        1. I have three sons and we don’t intentionally have “male” and “female” chores (though Daddy is way better at fixing our 1982 riding lawnmower than Mommy)

          My role model has 4 teenage sons and never cleans. My neighbor just hired her (underage for most jobs) sons to do yardwork.

  9. Does the study compare hours of housework/child care for couples that both work fulltime? I assume the average hours women work is lower because part time workers and women who stay at home are averaged in.
    I have a bunch of timetracking data from last year that I need to analyze. It will be interesting to see if the number of hours spent on chores went down relative to the previous timetracking exercise I did, since I had actively tried to decrease my chores. I hope to analyze the data and write up a post soon!

  10. As posted in another thread on Laura’s site, I’ve been a work-at-home-dad for a while. I do most of the cleaning & laundry, my wife does some, and my wife does the more involved cooking (I usually do more basic cooking or grilling). I don’t really want to outsource those type of tasks that need to be done on a regular basis, both because of cost and because I can’t always get to the gym when I want and some of those things are good exercise, lol. I do outsource handyman type of things that don’t need to be done as often, though. By the time I get in the car, go to Lowe’s, putz around the store to find what I need, come home and do what needs to be done…in most cases, it’s more cost effective to hire someone to come here and take care alot of that stuff, who will probably do it faster and better than me anyway. I’m not salaried – I’m paid by the hour, flat fee, or royalties. Even so, I often feel pressure to “DIY,” even though I just lost money driving back and forth to Lowe’s. At least with laundry, I can always throw in a load when I’m taking a 10-minute work break.

  11. Women I know who have part-time/consulting jobs routinely put in full-time work weeks. They’re paid for 32 hours, but, in the interest of preserving flexibility and/or keeping the job, they donate hours. Guess they’re not a big category of working parent, but I wonder how they would answer these questions. The use of averages confuses me.

    1. I’ve noticed this too. At my company, I was one of the few part-time people who actually worked the number of hours I was supposed to. (or made up for it by taking time off later if there was a crunch that required more hours.)

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