The COVID-19 quarantine turned many mothers into teachers overnight, and the moms of America are so stressed some (like Kristen Bell) have taken to shredding schedules and worksheets. But how do dads feel about distance learning stress?
According to Motherly's third annual state of Motherhood survey, 93% of moms say that they do more childcare than dads do, but a recent poll by Morning Consult for The New York Times found fathers don't agree. Almost half of dads surveyed told the NYT that they are spending more time on homeschooling than their partner does but 80% of moms surveyed told the NYT mama is doing the lion's share.
So what gives? Are dads overestimating their contribution or are moms underestimating dads?
When Motherly surveyed more than 3,000 millennial moms back in March a full 63% reported handling childcare and household responsibilities mostly on their own. Another 30% say they are shared with a partner and just 4% said their partner does more.
Since the pandemic we have seen a shift in those numbers. As Motherly reported earlier this week there has been a 12% increase in splitting household responsibilities equally, with 42% of moms now reporting they split equally with their partners.
But the numbers moms are providing still don't add up to what fathers are telling the New York Times they do, and that survey isn't the only one. A very recent pre-publication survey by University of Utah sociologist, Daniel L. Carlson finds that while mothers say their partners have stepped up since the pandemic, "mothers are less likely than fathers to report that fathers have increased their time in housework or care of older children."
For years we have seen that in general, millennial dads do want to be equal partners but fall short when it comes to sharing the childcare duties but there are many factors holding them back.
Now that some of those factors (like time spent at the office, on commuting or on out-of-home activities) have been removed, dads are able to do more. But the numbers suggest fathers are still not recognizing the invisible labor of mothers. They feel like they are doing so much, but their partners are still struggling.
The bottom line is that mothers are taught to and expected to do more than our fair share. We are expected to sacrifice ourselves in a way our male partners aren't, and in ways they sometimes can't even see.
But there is good news here: Fathers are doing more, and even if it is not quite 50/50 yet, this pandemic could be the beginning of the road to it. If we come out of quarantine with government and workplace policies that support all parents (like paid parental leave for all and more flexible work options) one day we could see a survey that reflects what fathers and mothers want: Equality in the home.