Families working together: Getting the balance right

Families working together: Getting the balance right

— 16 May 2014

Australian women spent around twice as much time on childcare and on household work than men, even when their children were older and they increased their time in paid employment, according to new data analysis released today by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The AIFS' fact sheet Families Working Together - Getting The Balance Right reveals that mothers with children under five years old spent around 41 hours a week on childcare and 32 hours on household work, while fathers spent about 17 hours on childcare and 15 hours on household tasks.

AIFS' Director, Professor Alan Hayes said that once children were a little older, mothers stepped up their involvement in paid work from 14 hours a week to 25 hours a week on average, when the youngest was aged 5-14 years.

"Despite working more in paid employment, women continued to spend much the same time on household tasks as they had when their children were younger, spending an average of 29 hours a week on household work" Professor Hayes said.

"Men's responsibilities remained much the same as their children got older. They continued to spend an average of 46 hours a week at work, spending a slightly greater amount of time on household tasks at 17 hours a week when compared to those with younger children. Their time spent on childcare declined from 17 hours a week to 11 hours a week."

AIFS' Senior Researcher, Dr Jennifer Baxter said statistical information on time pressures showed that working mothers were more likely to report feeling pressed for time than anyone else.

"The data show that 30 per cent of men said they were almost always, or were often rushed or pressed for time, 45 per cent said that they sometimes were and 25 per cent said they rarely or never felt rushed, " Dr Baxter said.
"They also show that for women, 38 per cent said they were almost always, or often rushed, or pressed for time, while 43 per cent said they sometimes were and only 18 per cent said they never were.

"Employed women with children were more likely than other women to be rushed or pressed for time, with 62 per cent saying they always or often felt rushed, 32 per cent sometimes and a mere 6 per cent saying they were rarely or never under time pressure."

Dr Baxter said that despite these time pressures, Australians generally reported being satisfied with their employment flexibility.

"Employed men and women reported quite high levels of satisfaction with the flexibility they had to balance work and non-work commitments," she said.

"Around six in ten employed men and women reported being very satisfied about their job flexibility. The most satisfied were those who said they could access flexible start and finish times.

"While employment flexibility is crucial to families, at particular points in our lives, work and family demands do compete with each other, causing feelings of time pressure for many people.

"It is valuable to be reminded of the need to find the balance between these competing demands on our time and to be mindful of finding time to care for our own wellbeing as well as that of others around us."

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