Guess what, ladies? Parenting is more stressful for moms than for dads. Not exactly groundbreaking news for any woman who has had a baby, but it's nice to have scientific backup.
According to a new study from Cornell University, women experience more emotional stress and strain than men while spending time with their kids. This is no doubt because in most households, women are the primary caregivers even when they work full-time. For the majority of moms, time with kids typically means cooking, cleaning, bathing, discipline, calming tantrums and keeping them entertained.
That's not always the case for dads, say researchers who analyzed time-use surveys of 12,000 parents with kids under 18. Respondents recorded what they were doing and how happy, sad, stressed or tired they felt.
Dads often swoop in for the fun parts of parenting rather than basic child-care and chores. That means their quality time with kids is low stress and generally more enjoyable. The study also found that moms do more solo parenting, have more sleep disruption and less free time than fathers. Is it any surprise that women exhibited lower levels of happiness and more stress when hanging with their kids?
All that's not to say moms don't enjoy parenting. Both men and women said that time with their kids was very "meaningful." Why else would we continue to grow our broods? But fact of the matter is, being a parent is a bit harder on moms. Who makes sure the diapers and formula are stocked? Who monitors the TP reserve? Who makes dinner? Who plays nurse when someone is sick?
However, it's important to note that this isn't the case in all families. The number of men acting as primary caregivers is on the rise. According to Pew Research, there are nearly 2 million stay-at-home dads in the United States. And in more and more homes, two full-time working parents strive to divide household chores more evenly.
However, Cornell sociologists note that there are still higher expectations placed on mothers.
“The solution is that we collectively rethink what we expect of fathers and what we expect of mothers," suggested study co-author Kelly Musick. Until that happens, perhaps all parents should heed this sanity-saving advice: Be sure to carve out some much needed me-time, and don't be afraid to ask for help.