How Housework Changes After a Kid Is Born

Men and women's roles change after a baby arrives, a new study finds. (Photo: Abel Mitja Varela/Getty Images)

“These are the couples you would expect to have the most egalitarian relationships,” is how researcher Claire Kamp Dush describes the participants in her study of dual-earner straight couples as they transitioned to parenthood. The male and female both work, are more highly educated than the average American, and plan to keep those jobs after they have a child—so what happened when that child was born?

Kamp Dush and Jill Yavorsky of Ohio State University said participants both anticipated their daily workload would get a lot heavier, and equally so: The 182 couples reported divvying up household chores equally pre-baby (logging about 15 hours a week on top of 42 to 45 hours at their job); post-baby, they thought their workload would increase by four hours a day.

The reality, as told by their time diaries, was a lot lighter and less balanced: about 10 more hours a week for men to women’s 21, writes Kamp Dush (herself a tenured professor and mother of four) at the Conversation. How Yavorsky sums it up in an OSU article: “The birth of the child dramatically changed the division of labor in these couples. What was once a relatively even division of household work no longer looked that way."

Neither men nor women reported working less at their job, post-baby. The findings appear in the Journal of Marriage and Family and were based on a somewhat slim pool of data: a total of just four diary entries per participant in which they logged 24 hours of activity on one weekday and one weekend; they recorded the activity once during the third trimester and once 9 months after birth. (If you’re a woman who out-earns your husband, we have related disappointing news for you.)

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,

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This article originally appeared on Newser: Here’s What Happens When a Working Couple Has a Kid