Thursday, June 26, 2008

Finally had a chance to closely read the fathers' day cover story by Lisa Belkin in the New York Times Magazine, with the cover language, "Will Dad ever do his share?" After I got past that discouraging headline, I discovered an interesting story about couples who are obsessively trying to split child care right down the middle. I thought in some instances they were taking things a bit too far, but bravo to them for making an attempt to get mothers and fathers equally involved.

I found some odd numbers in the story, however. These figures are apparently supported by surveys and other research, but they seemed implausible to me. In couples in which both mother and father have full-time paying jobs, the wife does 28 hours of housework per week, and the husband 16, on average.

Leaving aside the disparity--which was addressed in the article--that's 44 hours of housework per week, done by parents who are working at least 80 hours per week at their jobs (40 hours each, if not more). Let's continue with the math. That's about 6 1/2 hours of housework per day. When do these couples find time to sleep--or more importantly, take care of their kids?

And now for the childcare numbers. In these same families with two wage earners, mothers spend 11 hours per week caring for children, and dads 3 hours per week. Only 14 hours per week for child care? That seems improbably low, especially for this father of a two-year-old. Only two hours per day, total, both parents combined?

I'll be exploring these numbers further in a future post. For now, I wanted to be clear about the questions I have.

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