The impact of COVID-19 on family life has been mixed. There’s unquestionably been an increase in domestic work and much of the burden has fallen on women. That, however, doesn’t tell the full story as new research from YouGov has shown.
This survey, which was commissioned by childcare provider Fennies, is particularly interesting because it was looking at families with nursery-aged children. Most surveys thus far have focused on families with school-aged children.
In total, 1,000 parents were questioned. Of the women who responded, 28% said they were doing more cleaning, 29% were doing more cooking and 22% more laundry. For men, the figures were 34%, 35% and 31% respectively.
Interestingly, this confirms a picture already painted by previous research projects. Many have found that while women did more of the domestic chores, men’s involvement also increased.
Probably the most telling finding from the survey was that 32% of men said lockdown has improved the relationship they have with their children. The figure for women, meanwhile, was 26%.
While this was a survey as opposed to a piece of academic research, it is further evidence that men, when not having to commute or bound by the culture of presenteeism in the workplace, will do more at home and will have a better relationship with their families.
Commenting on the survey’s results, Fennies’ head of education Shanti Flynn said: “It’s all too easy to see lockdown’s drawbacks but there was a tremendous amount of positive, not least in the increased engagement between fathers and their children, but the fact that parents claimed the biggest advantage of lockdown was spending more time with their kids. Despite screen time increasing for obvious reasons of being at home more, we’ve also learnt arts and crafts were the most popular tool of engagement from nurseries so we will look to increase and expand creative solutions for children.@
Having looked at the results, I would make one further observation. Pity the ironing board. While both mums and dads said they were doing more ironing, only 9% of mums said they were doing more ironing while the figure for men was just 5%. Wile I’m all for increased gender equality, I very much think men had the right idea on this occasion