Moms have it harder than dads? "Multitasking" study says yes

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(CBS) Do moms have it harder than dads?

Working moms spend more time multitasking than working dads - and the experience of keeping multiple balls in the air at once is more stressful for the moms than for their male counterparts.

At least those are the findings of a provocative new study of American families. It showed that working mothers spend almost 10 more hours a week multitasking than do working fathers - 48 hours a week for moms compared to 39 for dads.

"This suggests that working mothers are doing two activities at once more than two-fifths of the time they are awake, while working fathers are multitasking more than a third of their waking hours," study author Dr. Barbara Schneider, a sociology professor at Michigan State University, said in a written statement.

The study also showed that working moms find multitasking a lot more unpleasant than working dads do. Maybe that's because of the sorts of tasks working moms take on.

Women tend to juggle labor-intensive tasks involving housework or childcare, the study found. Men? For them, multitasking tends to involve less burdensome tasks like carrying on a three-way conversation or engaging in self-care, according to study author Dr. Shira Offer, associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Israel's Bar-Ilan University.

Another reason working moms dislike multitasking is that they fear being judged by others. Though men are expected to be involved in their children's lives and do household chores, they face less scrutiny than women do, the authors concluded.

The study relied on data from a sample of 369 mothers and 241 fathers in dual-earner families across the U.S. It was published in the December issue of the American Sociological Review.

The authors didn't just report their findings. They offered a blunt recommendation for bridging the multitasking gap, saying that "fathers' share of housework and childcare has to further increase."

What do you say? Should dads contribute more to housework and childcare? Or should moms stop worrying what others think?

  • David W Freeman

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