New Dads Do Less Housework Once the Baby’s Born

The Council of Contemporary Families marked Mother’s Day by rounding up some recent studies on the housework gender divide, and the results are a mixed bag.On the one hand, women definitely still do more housework than men—three times as much. And even when couples achieve an egalitarian division of labor, the arrival of a baby can throw things off balance again: new fathers tend to scale back their housework to accommodate their new childcare responsibilities, while new mothers do the same amount of housework as before on top of taking care of the baby.On the other hand, the housework gender gap has gotten a heck of a lot narrower over the past few decades; in 1965, women did 22 times as much housework as men. And researchers don’t think “slacker dads” are necessarily to blame for the persistence of the gap, given that men do increase their overall domestic work once a kid enters the picture. It’s just that single women generally do more housework than single men, and when you combine those tendencies in a relationship and add the chaos of a new baby, it’s easy to slip unintentionally into an uneven divide.At the end of the day, conscious awareness of how much domestic work each partner is putting in may be the key to making a 50/50 split a reality. Over at Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams argues that women must also reject a commonly internalized belief that “the housework burden is theirs to shoulder,” saying: “It does not advance the cause of womankind to believe men are incapable of loading a dishwasher or mopping a floor.”