A new survey from Zulily found that 68% of moms say they take only 1-5 hours of “me time” each week, while 37% of dad say they get 6 to 10 hours to themselves each week.
The survey also found that 88% of moms surveyed say their role in the family is best described as “giver.”
The Zulily survey is just a drop in an ocean of polls and research that proves mamas are getting less time for self-care even as dads try to be equal partners. As Claire Cain Miller wrote for the New York Times in early 2020, multiple time use surveys show that “women now do a little less housework and child care, and men do a little more. But a significant gap remains — women spend about an hour more a day than men on housework, and an hour more on child care, other research shows.”
And the pandemic has made things even worse. When Ipsos surveyed thousands of people in G7 countries in mid-2020 it found 59% of women are experiencing burnout, anxiety or depression, compared to 46% of men, and 43% of women who live with a partner feel no one is helping them.
So while at first glance the small survey from Zulily may not seem statistically relevant, but there is a ton of academic research backing up the fact that shows this imbalance in responsibilities and free time still exists (and is growing) for heterosexual couples.
According to Ipsos, “79% of women report being too tired and stressed by everything they do (work, household chores and childcare), compared to 61% of men–18 percentage points more.”
We’re exhausted. We worked so hard in the quest for equality and it does seem like it is slipping away. Widespread crises (like the one we are currently living through) do tend to reinforce gender roles in a way that benefits men and harms women. At the macro-level, this involves women dropping out (or being forced out) of the workforce, and at the micro-level, this looks like mom getting just a couple hours to herself in a week while dad enjoys 6 to 10.
Our 2021 State of Motherhood survey found similar responses, too. This year, 45% of mothers reported being the primary caregiver for children in the household during the day, with Black mothers the most likely to say so at 53%. While about a quarter of mothers (26%) have a childcare provider for support, very few (4%) have a partner who takes the primary caregiver role or even shares the responsibility equally (10%).
Contributing to this feeling, 69% of mothers (62% of employed mothers, 90% of non-employed mothers) say they devote 5 or more hours a day to child/household duties, but only 13% of partners (if in a relationship) devote the same amount of time. The reported norm for the partner’s daily household contributions is 1-2 hours (41%). Mothers are bearing the burden of childcare and household duties—and their partners are not sharing that responsibility equally.
This isn’t fair. It isn’t reasonable. And it is a recipe for maternal burnout and depression. If you find yourself getting one hour of “me time” while your partner gets six, it may be time for a talk.
Your partner may not be aware of how much is on your plate or how little rest you get. Some experts suggest making an inventory of all your child-rearing responsibilities (like making doctor’s appointments, planning birthdays, wrapping Christmas presents) and giving half the list to your partner.
Research suggests that if fathers did just 50 minutes more at home each day (childcare and chores), our society could get on track to meet gender equality targets. But right now we’re not on track. We’re going backward. And we need allies. We need the men in our lives to give us 50 more minutes—and not just to shower or run errands. Moms may be the “giver” of the family, but we need “me time,” too.