Mothers still do the lion's share of housework

Content type
Research snapshot

May 2016


The Australian Institute of Family Studies analysis drew on 14 years of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) Study. HILDA is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Service and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

Key messages

  • Becoming a mother heralds a dramatic change in the lives of Australian women. New mothers go from spending a weekly average of 2 hours caring for others to a whopping 51 hours.

  • Current data show that when women become mothers they also increase the time they spend on housework – like cooking, cleaning and washing – from a weekly average of 16 hours to 25 hours.

  • The extra time spent looking after children and doing housework comes as women reduce their time in paid work, declining from a weekly average of 33 hours pre-motherhood to 9 hours after the birth.

  • As children grow older, mothers begin a long process of winding back caring responsibilities, dropping to a weekly average of 26 hours when their youngest child starts school and to 5 hours once children have left home – there is no similar let up from the demands of housework

  • Not surprisingly, many mothers report feeling tired – 40% of women with pre-schoolers agree they often feel tired, worn out or exhausted from meeting the needs of their children.