Mothers rarely, if ever, get a day off. In fact, 25 percent of women and 18 percent of men estimate that their mothers spent more than 60 hours a week devoted to household and family-related tasks, according to a recent survey by coupon site RetailMeNot. More than one-in-three moms estimate that they spend more than 60 hours a week devoted to the tasks associated with being a mother, the survey also found. “Being a mother, even a working mother, is more than a full-time job,” says Trae Bodge, senior editor at the site.
Women spend 1 hour and 31 minutes on average per day doing housework compared with 1 hour and 20 minutes for men, according to the 2013 American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics; women also spend 28 minutes a day more than men on food preparation and cleanup (48 minutes versus 20 minutes) and 16 minutes more per day caring for and helping a child (32 minutes for women versus 16 minutes for men). (That doesn’t include the nine months of pregnancy.)
Employed married women spend almost twice as much time on housework and child care (2.6 hours a day) as their husbands (1.4 hours), according to BLS data. “Mothers do most of the physical care and supervision of their children, while dads spend more time on educational and recreational activities,” says Kristy Shih, assistant professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Central Michigan University. “Fathers still do more child care than their fathers did when they were young.”
“We’re seeing some closing of the gap between women and men,” Shih says. Men’s increase in housework participation is related to the decrease in manual labor, she says, while more men and women are working from home and have flexible schedules. “There are more family-friendly work policies than 20 years ago and it’s more socially acceptable for men who want to spend more time at home,” she adds. “Men want to take a more active role in raising their kids than their dads used to do.”
In fact, expecting and experienced mothers say whether to go back to work to earn more money for the family or deciding to stay at home is the No. 1 reason they argue with their spouses, according to a survey by personal finance site NerdWallet.com. Some 31 percent said it was the main reason they argued, ahead of saving for their children’s education (20 percent), leaving work early to spend more time with family (18 percent), the cost of toys and family entertainment (16 percent) and the cost of child care (14 percent).
In dual-income households when paid work, child care and housework are combined, fathers put in an average of 58 hours of work overall a week, compared with 59 hours for mothers, according to Pew Research, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. In households where the father is the sole breadwinner, his total workload exceeds that of his spouse or partner by 11 hours (57 versus 46 hours a week). But in households where the mother is the sole breadwinner, her total workload exceeds that of her spouse or partner by about 25 hours (58 versus 33 hours a week).
The amount of housework that mothers do has gone down and the amount that fathers do has gone down over the last five decades, but there still are significant gender gaps, says Kim Parker, director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center. (Fathers did 10 hours of housework and 7 hours of child care in 2011 versus 4 hours of housework and 2.5 hours of child care in 1965.) “If moms could have their choice, they’d like more time with the kids and a day where they didn’t have to worry about the job and the housework,” she says.
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