In addition, “dads spend almost the same amount of time as mom in terms of playing with kids, but they do less in other areas of child care,” said Wendy Wang, a research associate at the Pew Research Center.
For instance, mothers logged much more time doing “physical care,” such as changing diapers or tending to sick kids. That could be why dads find child care less tiring than moms do: Fifteen percent of mothers said they felt “very tired” doing child care, compared with 6 percent of fathers, the survey showed.
For Rosie Arroyo-Carmona, the schedule begins at 5:30 a.m. and doesn’t end until 11:30 p.m. or midnight, she said. She and her husband both work in the nonprofit sector, juggling their jobs with caring for their baby daughter. Every week they plan their schedules and divide up who will handle what task.
Because her husband travels more than she does, Arroyo-Carmona said she often takes charge of feeding and bathing the baby. After the baby falls asleep, she works a “second shift” for another few hours.
When a rare bit of free time arises, “I think that I could get something done — or I could get some rest,” Arroyo-Carmona said. Instead of resting, “I always choose to check something off my list.”
Despite their exhaustion, moms were more likely than dads to say they felt happy while caring for their kids. Both moms and dads said child care was much more meaningful for them than other work, with 62 percent of parents calling child care “very meaningful,” versus 36 percent who said the same about paid work.
Women, however, were more likely than men to find housework meaningful, with 46 percent calling it “very meaningful,” compared with 28 percent of men. Scholars who study families said that despite seismic changes in family life, mothers still seem to feel their identity is more bound up with the home than fathers do, producing both more pride and more anxiety.
“We are socialized as women to take care of the home,” said Tamar Kremer-Sadlik, an adjunct professor of anthropology at UCLA. “We are still supposed to be the perfect mom and have a beautiful house.”
Wang said the sample sizes were too small to compare the feelings of working parents to stay-at-home parents, but that the gender gaps between moms and dads were still there when researchers took employment into consideration. The 2010 survey included more than 4,800 parents with children under the age of 18.