It’s well documented that mothers do more child care and housework than fathers. But what about on the weekend, when both parents theoretically have more time for leisure?
Our new analysis of time use data shows a striking change of pace for moms and dads on Saturday and Sunday. Mothers take a little break from child care (but not housework) on the weekend. Fathers pick up more housework, and the amount of time they devote to child care is a lot closer to mothers’ on the weekend.
But when it comes to leisure, fathers take full advantage of the weekends. The “leisure gap” between fathers and mothers, which is quite modest on the weekdays, grows to a one hour difference on Saturdays and Sundays.
On average, dads spend half the amount of time on child care that mothers do. But this is true only during the week. With moms scaling back their time for child care, fathers’ child-care time is about three quarters that of mothers’ (73%) on the weekends. On weekends, fathers step it up with housework, doing nearly an hour more than they do during the week. While fathers spend less than half as much time as mothers (46%) on the weekdays doing housework, they spend 71% the amount of time of mothers on the weekends.
Overall, on the weekends, mothers scale back their time spent on child care by 29%, compared with the amount of time spent during a week day (1.5 hours per day vs. 2.1 hours). This is consistent with earlier research by Sayer, Bianchi, and Robinson.
A recent Pew Research Center report found that stay-at-home mothers spend more time on child care and housework than working mothers. But the gap in child care is much narrower on the weekends than during the week, and working moms spend almost the same amount of time on housework as stay-at-home moms do on the weekends.
Working moms tend to use the weekend to clean up the house: They increase their time spent on this activity by about one hour during the weekends. At the same time, stay-at-home moms take a little break from household chores on weekends. And all mothers, whether working outside the home or not, have more time for leisure activities during weekends.