With Father’s Day coming up we’ll admit that we’re glad to have our fellas around, but when it comes to who does what around the house, moms could use a little help. Insure.com’s 2012 Father’s Day Index and Mother’s Day Index, both of which look at household tasks associated with motherhood and fatherhood, show that if we were actually paid for being parents, men would receive a far lower domestic tasks paycheck than moms. According to this year’s two indexes, dads would get about $20,248 annually for the work they do around the house while moms would receive a whopping $60,182 annual paycheck, or  about three times more than dads. The new Father’s Day Index takes official government wage data and applies it to 13 different fatherly household tasks to calculate Dad’s worth. For example, jobs dads say they’re most likely to do include stuff like barbecuing (matched to the U.S. Department of Labor’s “cooks”), killing spiders (“pest control workers”) and mowing the lawn (“grounds maintenance workers”). Moms managed more tasks on average and put in more time as parents, hence the larger imaginary paycheck. For example, as moms today well know, we hold many jobs from taxi driver to cook to housekeeper to nurse and more.

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Image by Flickr User Karen Sheets de Gracia

How are Parenting & Household Tasks Divided?

Insure admits that you can’t put a price tag on all parenting tasks – for example, they note, “Insure.com’s wage analysis can’t measure the value of pushing a swing or carrying someone on your shoulders. Yet those experiences form the priceless memories of childhood.” Insure also notes that dads are often the primary breadwinners, which may explain the gap in who does what around the house. However, you also have to consider that plenty of families have two breadwinners. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, both parents work in about 59% of married-couple families, and that’s not counting unmarried partners who live together and raise a family. In families where two parents work, you’d expect to see a better division of tasks, yet you don’t. One Post-Kaiser-Harvard poll shows that on average, working mothers still do about 20 hours of housework a week, while working dads do just 10 hours a week. Even when both parents work, surveys show that moms do most of the food shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning, arranging for child care and babysitters, and taking children to appointments or after-school activities while dads tend to mow the lawn, shovel the snow and take out the trash. Unfortunately, research also shows that multitasking moms are super stressed due to taking on the bulk of parenting and household tasks.

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An Age Old Problem

The issue of inequality on the home-front is anything but new. Last year a survey of 1,000 fathers by the Boston College Center for Work & Family, found that today’s fathers want to share equally in the duties of raising their children, but most admit they’re slacking big time. Study authors from Boston College note that a full 57% of dads use work as an excuse for not helping, noting that they feel their job keeps them from being able to help out as much as they should at home each day. Additionally, as you can see in the chart above, dads in the Boston College study noted that helping out on a day-to-day basis with their kids is the least important aspect of being a good father. It’s too bad that dads feel this way because research shows that when dads spend more time helping out they become more confident parents. Plus, on a happiness scale, other research shows that one major key to a positive partnership between males and females happens to be (no surprise) an equal division of household and parenting tasks. On the flip-side, we can’t simply blame dads for their lack of initiative. Research shows that moms tend to dig their own grave by assuming they can manage tasks better than dads can. If you’re a mom who is frustrated with the lack of help you’re getting, it could be that you’ve got a superstar parent complex. Learning to let go, and let Dad take over parenting and household tasks on his own, may result in a more helpful partner, and that benefits everyone.

+ THE NEW DAD: Caring, Committed and Conflicted (pdf)

Lead image by Flickr User devinf