You might not have needed a study to know this, but data has confirmed that mothers are a lot more stressed out by parenthood than dads are.
Researchers from Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, and Minnesota Population Center found that mothers are less happy than fathers regarding parenting duties, largely because of their different tasks, reports Science Daily.
“Mothers enjoy it less than fathers because they do more of the ‘work’ and less of the ‘fun’ parenting tasks”
“The good news from our study is that parents generally enjoy being with their kids,” said researcher Ann Meier, “but the bad news is that mothers enjoy it less than fathers because they do more of the ‘work’ and less of the ‘fun’ parenting tasks.”
“Mothers are doing different things with their children than fathers are, things that we know aren’t as enjoyable,” co-author Kelly Musick told the Cornell Chronicle. “Playing with their kids is a particularly enjoyable experience for parents. And dads are doing more play as a share of the total amount of time they spend with their kids.”
Mums spend more time doing more tedious work like cooking, basic childcare, and cleaning. This leaves dads to take care of the more, fun parts of parenting, like play and leisure. “It’s not that mums are so stressed out with their kids, but relative to fathers, they’re experiencing more strain,” Musick continued.
“When mothers are with their kids, they are more often by themselves”
The study found that mothers and fathers not only have differing parenting activities but also usually do them in very different environments. “When mothers are with their kids, they are more often by themselves,” Meier went on. “When fathers are with their kids, they are more likely to have other adults around, offering some back-up. This helps us understand why fathers are less stressed when with kids.”
Fatigue also plays a huge part in mothers’ lower happiness. It’s often the case that they don’t get as much rest as their partners. “Mothers are more likely than fathers to be called on by kids ‘around the clock,’” Meier said. “Fathers’ sleep and downtime are less likely than mothers’ to be interrupted by kids. This is part of the reason fathers are less tired than mothers when parenting.”
“We collectively rethink what we expect of fathers and what we expect of mothers”
The results confirm what most of us already know: that mothers need more support from society and their partners. Meier and her team recommend that dads take on some of the less fun parts of parenting. Musick goes on to say that society needs to “let go” of certain notions we have about parenting that deem mothers should do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to parenting.
“Couples can try work together to change how they parent, but that’s not really the solution,” Musick said. “The solution is that we collectively rethink what we expect of fathers and what we expect of mothers.”