47 Years of American Parents' Daily Routines

The Economist, Facebook
The Economist, Facebook / The Economist, Facebook

In 2012, the average mother spent 131 minutes a day cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry—122 minutes less than mothers spent doing the same activities in 1965. However, the amount of time a modern mother spends taking care of her children has increased from 77 minutes in 1965 to 117 minutes in 2012. While the time spent on daily child care needs like feeding and bathing has stayed fairly constant around 77 minutes, the time spent on developmental activities—reading, brainy game playing, working on that third language—has tripled within the last 47 years.

All of these findings and more are from “A Day in the Life of America’s Parents,” a chart compiled by The Economist using data from Liana Sayer’s research done at the University of Maryland.

The Economist credits “Feminism, technology and market forces” as the major forces behind the increase in paid work and the decrease in housework hours for women, but those factors don’t explain why mothers are spending more time taking care of their children now than they were then.

At a distance, the way fathers allot their time throughout the day hasn’t gone through the same drastic changes. While they are pitching in more at home than they did in 1965, the total amount of time they currently spend on cooking, cleaning, and laundry combined is still less than a mother spends on cooking or cleaning alone.