Juggling parenting, work and a pandemic not getting easier

Juggling parenting, work and a pandemic not getting easier

Moms are still more likely than dads to feel pressured by the child care needs of their young children.

Moms are still more likely than dads to feel pressured by the child care needs of their young children, though both men and women say managing child care has gotten more difficult with the passage of time in the pandemic, the Deseret News reported. Parents still disagree on who's helping more around the house. And couples who went into the pandemic in strong marital or cohabiting relationships say those links haven't frayed. Both before and during the pandemic, men were slightly more apt to rate their relationship with a partner positively.

Researchers at Pew decided to quantify the actual experience of American families. They compared what adults said in surveys on key topics before the pandemic with a survey conducted in October, well into the pandemic. The findings are contained in reports on working parents and on relationships and how couples split their chores.

"Sometimes, change is what's really interesting," said Horowitz. "In this case, I really do think that the lack of change is just as interesting, considering everything that's happened in the last year and how the pandemic has changed so much in terms of how people work, how children go to school and how people connect with each other."

Ruth Igielnik, one of Pew's senior researchers and the author of the family and work report, said parents worried they could not always give 100% to their jobs because of family needs. Some have had to reduce their work hours or turn down important assignments or promotions. Lots experienced a variation of what she called "extreme challenges that teleworking parents who have child care responsibilities run into while they're working."

Many of the challenges faced by parents with kids younger than 12 stem from the need to do something for their children while they're trying to work. Nearly two-thirds of working parents said they had to juggle at least some of those responsibilities.

Toggling between meeting the needs of her children and those of her employer is familiar territory for Kim Millard, a Layton mom who works part time from home and has children in every school age range. She and her husband, Miles, have a preschooler, a grade schooler, a middle schooler and a high schooler. And Miles now works from home, too, so Kim Millard has set up a temporary office in the kitchen.

Still, Millard feels pretty lucky, because the flexibility to work from home has worked for her family. Remote work isn't possible for everyone. In Pew's survey, "some 43% of employed parents say they have jobs that can be done from home, while 57% say their jobs cannot be done remotely. Of those who have the option, roughly 7 in 10 say they are, in fact, working from home all or most of the time," Igielnik wrote.

Nearly half of adults in relationships reported that the pandemic had deepened their commitment to their partner. Just 9% disagreed. That survey, which was conducted by YouGov for Deseret News and the Brigham Young University Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, found other good news from the homefront, as well. Thirty-two percent said household members were getting along better, while just half that many said tension had increased.

Concerning other family relationships, the pandemic may have given dads more time with their children. Fewer dads told Pew researchers during the pandemic that they wish they could spend more time with their kids, compared to earlier surveys. In 2017, 63% wanted more time with their children, compared to 48% in October. Just 5% say they spend too much time with their children, Pew found.

While satisfaction with the marital or cohabiting relationship has been steady since 2019, men told the Pew researchers they were more satisfied with one facet of family life than before: More of the men like the current division of household labor than in the past. The women are somewhat less satisfied with that division.

In 2019, 49% of the men and 39% of the women said they were satisfied with the division of household chores between themselves and their partner. What was a sizable gap has got wider. In October, 55% of men described themselves as very satisfied with how household tasks are split, while only 38% of women agreed.

The Pew study found men and women do not agree on how labor is actually shared — a he-said, she-said view that is old news to researchers, since versions of that question have been asked for years with significant disagreement between the genders about who does how much.

In the new Pew research, 6 in 10 women say they do more household chores than their partner and just 6% say the man does more. Those numbers don't line up when men are asked. Nearly half of men (46%) say they share tasks about equally, while 20% say they do more and just over a third credit their partner working harder on household chores.