It's easy to think that parents in the past had it easier than we do in 2017. And some new data from Statistics Canada might just back that up.
The results of the government agency's Time Use Survey (with the very enticing title, "Changes in parents' participation in domestic tasks and care for children from 1986 to 2015") painted a picture of a country where fathers are doing more than ever before, while moms are still doing the same amount of work (i.e. a lot).
So what does that tell us? That every parent is working really, really hard.
"During the course of an average day in 2015, the participation rate of mothers in household work remained higher than that of fathers," the study details. "The difference between fathers and mothers was nevertheless smaller than before, mainly due to the increased participation of fathers in household work rather than a decrease in the participation of mothers."
The ways in which fathers were helping that they hadn't before included preparing meals (59 per cent reported doing so in 2015, vs. 29 per cent in 1986) and helping with housework (51 per cent in 1986 to 76 per cent in 2015). The number of moms making meals, meanwhile, actually dropped from 86 per cent in 1986 to 81 per cent in 2015.
But it's in the housework portion that you can really see what parents are up against today. While there was a significant increase in the amount of time men reported spending cleaning and doing other indoor work in 2015, women still reported doing 72 per cent of the chores. So even when fathers upped their participation, somehow the amount of stuff that needed to get done grew. Kind of like your never-ending laundry pile.
And then, of course, are the household tasks that just aren't getting done when both mom and dad are working outside the home. Eighty-six per cent of moms who had worked eight or more hours during the day did household work on that day too (as opposed to 95 per cent of moms who weren't doing paid work), and 65 per cent of dads who worked outside the house were in the same position, vs. the 87 per cent who had stayed at home.
What can we say? Working outside the home = a somewhat neglected home.
Last but not least were the geographic differences, for those who care about that sort of thing. To summarize, fathers in Quebec were the most likely to perform household chores, while those in the Prairies were the least likely.
Statistics Canada notes that the response rate for the Time Use Survey was lower than expected — likely because, we're guessing, people didn't have time to fill it out. Oh, the irony.