Working mums and dads are struggling to stay sane amid the chaos of modern family life, new studies show.
Supposed sanity-savers such as childcare, non-standard work hours, self-employment and working from home are not making life easier, University of New South Wales experts have found.
Families with both parents working report high levels of stress and time pressures; this is particularly acute among mothers with children in childcare.
The analysis of data from 772 couples from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Time Use Survey also finds family-friendly strategies have been largely ignored by fathers, most of whom work full time.
The study, published in the Journal of Population Research, finds women are working more, but devoting just as much time to raising children.
And they aren’t always getting help from dads on the home front, researchers Lyn Craig and Abigail Powell report.
WORKING mums and dads are struggling to stay sane amid the chaos of modern family life. “As women have moved into the workforce, co-ordinating work and family has become increasingly difficult,” Dr Craig says. The study also shows that although men and women do the same amount of work overall, men do twice as much paid work and women twice the amount of domestic work.
The researchers found self-employed dads might be at home more, but don’t actively care for them more than other working dads. And they found those who have “flexi-time” don’t end up with more quality family time.
Another study of 348 couples, also by doctors Craig and Powell, has found use of external childcare is not associated with a drop in parental care.
Gary Adair, a father of three, said many were stressed. “It’s a mad world … mums end up being taxi drivers when you throw in school activities and sports,” he said.
Working mother Ava Adams, 36, of Aberfeldie, knows she is at her most stressed at the start and end of the day. After wearing a heart rate monitor for 16 1/2 hours on Friday, the results confirmed her peak stress hits when she is tending to her children, Jack, 4, Emma, 3, and Edward, 1, in the morning and evening.
“I love work so I don’t get stressed there unless something ridiculous happens,” Ms Adams said. “If I get overwhelmed it’s more likely to be with the children.”
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