Being a parent is hard. Like, really hard. Sure, there are all the fun times that we savor and want to hold onto forever, like when your baby smiles at you and calls you “mama” or “dada” and when you kids run to greet your when you get home from work. Sure, these are treasured moments.
But, being a parent is really hard…especially for moms. Seriously. Even when the housework is split 50/50, moms still do more work. This extra work is invisible, things like keeping track of everyone’s schedule, making a mental grocery list and wondering when you’ll have time to fold laundry and empty the dishwasher. Oh yeah, there’s also planning birthday parties, playdates and making sure the kids have clothes that fit when they hit a growth spurt.
While dads could do some of this mental work, they usually don’t. Moms notice first. It’s just the way we’re wired.
Now this new study from the University of California, Riverside, comes out. There were 18,000 couples that participated in this study, and after looking at all the data, researchers discovered that mothers aren’t as happy when they spend time with their kids as fathers are.
Here’s the kicker. Researchers say that the reason moms aren’t as happy as dads when they spend time with their kids is that dads tend to play with the kids more than moms do. Their suggestion is that moms should play with their kids more often.
Are they trying to make moms feel guilty? Like, not only are we doing at least 50% of the cooking and cleaning, but we’re also responsible for this invisible, mental work, and now we need to play with our kids more often so that we’ll be happier? Um, right now we can almost hear moms adding “play with kids more often” to the invisible, mental to-do list. That’s the sound of stress, not happiness.
Would moms really be happier if they played with their kids more? That depends. If dad’s going to do the invisible, mental work and the cooking and cleaning so that we have time to play with the kids, then, sure, yeah, we might be happier. Otherwise, we’re going to have trouble forgetting about the dishes rotting in the sink and the unmade beds.
Seriously, it’s not a bad thing to take time to play with your kids. It’s a great thing, but to say that moms need to play with their kids more so that they’ll be as happy as dads seems to be a surface level solution.
Maybe a move in the right direction would be to find a way to remove some of the stress and workload from mom’s shoulders so that she can have time to relax for a change. Maybe what mom really needs is a spa day and a housekeeper (or a husband who loves the KonMari method as much as she does). Then maybe, just maybe, she’ll be a little bit happier and have some free time to play with the kids.