According to some new research, parents are spending more time interacting with their kids now than generations before.
In 1965, the data from the Americans’ Use of Time Study shows that mothers spent 10 hours weekly on childcare as a primary activity. Fathers spent 3 hours.
Fast forward to a recent analysis by economists Garey and Valerie Ramey who found that college-educated moms now spend 21.2 hours on childcare.
Not to leave out fathers, Betsey Stevenson and Dan Sacks at the University of Pennsylvania calculated that college-educated dads are now up to 9.6 hours per week.
Do you wonder what’s changed?
Researchers say that women are spending less time cooking and cleaning, while men are working less hours than possibly their grandfathers did.
Interestingly, the Ramey study doesn’t even count the hours mothers and fathers spend “around” their children — like at the dinner table or doing separate activities in the same room. Instead, the survey tracks only activities in which the parent is directly involved in the child’s care.
“It’s taking them to school, helping with homework, bathing them, playing catch with them in the back yard,” said a co-author of the leisure-time paper, Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “Those are the activities that have increased over the last 15 to 20 years.”
There are plenty of studies, articles and opinions with varying viewpoints on what quality time with kids looks like. Parents even make tough career choices to get more time (quantity) together. I have done both– stayed at home and worked as a mom with kids. It’s a very personal decision and we’re not advocating one way or another. But we all know there’s a difference between being with our kids and truly engaging with them whether we’re working or not.
Being at home doesn’t automatically mean that we’re spending quality time with our kids– we can be just as busy as if we were gone. And choosing to work obviously dips into the 24 hours we all have in a day, but it doesn’t make it impossible to spend quality time. Both scenarios need the same thing– intentionality, because our kids grow up so fast! I hope you’re encouraged by this possible upward trend of parent involvement.
What is your kids’ favorite way to get quality time with you? Mine love for me to make funny face pancakes from scratch while they “help”. In fact, we still need to clean up the mess we made this morning. How about you?