Multi + Tasking = Stressed Out Mama?
All signed up for baby care classes in preparation of your new arrival? You may want to add a lesson or two in how to multitask, mama-to-be, because you’re going to need it!
In the fast-paced world we live in, it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that moms, especially working moms, are called upon to do a whole lot of things at once—from folding laundry while packing up supplies for tomorrow’s daycare drop off to making dinner while trying to have some “quality time” with Baby. Working dads are multitasking, too, but moms are still the ones juggling the most at home. In a study of working parents, researchers found that mothers spend nine more hours a week multitasking than do working fathers, or an average of about 48 hours per week of multitasking for moms compared to 39 hours for dads.
And you know what? Moms don’t particularly like this.
According to the study, when women did multiple things at once, they report feeling stressed, while men didn’t seem to mind it as much. This could be because men’s multitasking at home more often involved work (i.e., talking on the phone with a client at home), while women’s multitasking involved combining household chores and child-rearing, says researchers. All this stress? It is just leaving moms feeling conflicted and guilty.
“For mothers, multitasking is—on the whole—a negative experience, whereas it is not for fathers. Only mothers report negative emotions and feeling stressed and conflicted when they multitask at home…” notes Shira Offer, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, in a press release.
The solution to too much multitasking for moms? Researchers think it may be time for dads to take over dinner duty. “The key to mothers’ emotional well-being is to be found in the behavior of fathers,” says Offer. “I think that in order to reduce mothers’ likelihood of multitasking and to make their experience of multitasking less negative, fathers’ share of housework and childcare has to further increase.”
To accomplish this, researchers call for fathers to have more opportunities to leave work early or start work late, so they can participate in important family routines. Just not possible in your partner’s line of work? There are other ways to accomplish a more equal division of labor around the house, such as making a list of daily chores and divvying them up so that you are rotating turns making dinner or doing daycare drop off.
And those endless loads of laundry? Try to cut down to just one laundry night a week. No one is going to see that big pile of clothes in the basement anyway, so kick back and relax—you deserve it!
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