A woman’s work is sometimes done

The free parenting magazine I get (Right Start) had an article in a recent issue reporting a survey of mothers’ working hours (extract at http://www.rightstartmagazine.co.uk/?pid=3098&lsid=3098&edname=18899.htm&ped=18899). It said that the average mother was busy for 100 hours a week, which broke down as:

41 hours childcare
25 hours paid employment
9 hours cooking
6 hours cleaning and dusting
6 hours laundry
5 hours travel (including school run)
5 hours washing up/loading dishwasher
3 hours vacuuming

Some of these figures look suspicious to me. I suspect, for example, that there’s probably some double counting of housework done while also caring for children. The amount of time spent on housework also suggests that women are either exaggerating or obsessive (the survey was run by a fabric conditioning firm, so may have attracted the cleanliness fanatics). For example, to vacuum the whole of our largish house (upstairs and downstairs) would take about an hour – I don’t think most houses would need cleaning this thoroughly every other day.

In the spirit of the survey, I decided to estimate my own time patterns in a typical week:

50 hours childcare, cooking and housework (these are difficult to separate out)
25-30 hours study (at peak effectiveness when I was working on the thesis, some of this now gets diverted to blogging and other distractions)
3 hours travelling

50 hours sleeping
35-40 hours remaining

What this suggests is that I don’t work as hard as some mothers, partly probably because I’ve only got one child, but largely because I’m something of a slob who has married a man prepared to do a reasonable share of the domestic stuff and childcare. On the other hand, I still reckon I’m working harder than a childless slob in a moderately demanding job, where the breakdown might be about as follows:

40 hours work
10 hours travelling
15 hours cooking/housework

56 hours sleep
47 hours remaining

In other words I may not be working as hard as some mothers (or their claims are exaggerated), but I’m still probably working harder than I did before I had L, when I was in full time employment. I’m also paid much less (=nothing) and often more stressed. So what’s this about the joys of motherhood?


One thought on “A woman’s work is sometimes done

  1. I read the magazine and I have to say it made me smile!
    Especially the target audience. And I quote:
    “Right Start gives the potential advertiser the platform to reach a captive audience over 56,000, loyal, mainly affluent and dedicated, ABC1 parents,..”
    Oh yeah!
    Is there a section on there relating to fathers working hours too.. or doesn’t that count for very much? I couldn’t see one but then perhaps I missed something!



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