Moms work more than dads but enjoy it less, parenting studies have found. Men also object more if they feel forced to multitask. Busy parents handle workloads and responsibility differently and it can affect parenting relationships. How parents juggle multiple tasks may cause rifts if one deems the other “lazy” or “unsupportive.” Multitasking studies asked parents to record how many tasks they were performing at one time and also how they felt about multitasking.
Surveys said mothers spend 25 percent more time than dads multitasking and that mom’s definition of multitasking differed from dad’s. Mother see multitasking as carrying on two or more work related tasks at once. Usually, multitasking for moms meant combining child care with work, household chore or family activity. Fathers did more work-related or hobby multitasking. Dads also tended to count social juggling and entertainment mixed with work as multitasking. Moms didn’t even factor those activities in.
Working parents differ in their after-work activities and that causes rifts in parenting relationships. Moms tend to dive right into meal preparation and child care activities. They reported feeling stressed and hurried when they get home. Dads tended to relax, watch television and delay work activities. Dads reported getting resentment from wives who felt they had to work harder to make up the slack from their husbands. They felt compelled to keep going to feed hungry families and get work done before relaxing and this causes anger when dad doesn’t do his share to help or expects to be waited on. This unequal, unfair burden of work makes for unhealthy parenting relationships.
Multitasking for fathers involved less child care or household tasks–for them multitasking was cleaning the garage, listening to music, yard work and hobby-related activities. So fathers tend to enjoy multitasking at home. For mothers, juggling cooking, cleaning, indoor work and children all at once was less rewarding. Neither gender enjoyed being pushed by supervisors at work to multitask. Parents enjoyed multitasking more when they were together at home or with their children and it helped relationships.
Since there is a parenting discrepancy between what genders report as multitasking, the likelihood is that mothers are under-reporting the number of episodes in which they multitask. Mothers may actually be feeling more stress from multitasking and in need of extra support and help from their partners. The terms of interaction alone can damage relationships. Moms (and maybe even dads) see themselves as ultimately responsible for child care, homes, shopping, errands, bills and cooking. Dads may see themselves just as volunteer assistants, not actually responsible for juggling the many tasks of running a home.