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The Mamafesto: Are we getting closer to equality in the home?

Many moms know the challenge of being a working parent. Our days start early in the morning and usually go well into the night. There are school lunches to be made, kids to be dropped off or attended to until the bus comes, an actual workday to get through, errands to be run, groceries to be purchased, dinner to be cooked, dishes to be done, laundry to be washed and folded, homework to be supervised, trash to be taken out, bath and bedtime routines and more. But as more mothers are entering the workforce, data is showing that fathers are — finally — stepping up to the plate when it comes to household duties.

The annual Economic Report of the President includes one chapter that focuses on the economics of the family home, and the most recent report shows some interesting data. Today’s families are seeing more mothers working outside the home than ever before. The reality is that most families need more than one income to stay afloat (and you know, there’s also the fact that many women actually enjoy working outside the home!), and more than 40 percent of mothers are the primary source of income for their families. That’s pretty significant.

And for the most part, in addition to bringing home the bacon, these mothers are cooking it up and washing all the accompanying dishes. Because although times have changed and we’ve moved far from the stereotypical image of June Cleaver, there are still traditional ideas about who does what work inside the home. Thankfully it seems like those are slowly changing.

According to the Economic Report, there has been a noticeable rise in fathers helping out at home. Vocativ sums up the findings:

“Over an eight-year period, the number of dads who helped with homework, read to their kids, and bathed and diapered their infants rose by at least five percentage points in all categories.”

Five percentage points! OK, that’s not a huge increase, but let’s focus on the positive — at least they’re helping out more. And the report notes that fathers are spending more time at home in general. In homes where both parents work, it just makes sense that the household duties get split in an even and fair manner.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a household where both parents worked, but both also chipped in equally around the house. While my father usually left for work before we were even up in the mornings, he was the one making breakfast on the weekends. And while my mother cooked dinner most nights, my father was always on dish duty (something I suspect to this day he actually enjoys!). When it came to cleaning, you’d just as easily see my father with the vacuum or duster as you would my mother, and whoever remembered was on garbage duty. This translated into my life as well. Both my husband and I work, and we equally share — and ignore — household chores. Sometimes I cook, sometimes he does, and sometimes we split the difference and eat out. Same with dishes, cleaning, garbage and groceries.

It’s not always equal, but it’s always fair. While statistics aren’t quite showing an even 50/50 split yet when it comes to who does what around the home in two-working-parent households, I have faith that we’re getting there. The more we talk about it and break down the myth that the household is the feminine domain and that parenting is by default a mother’s job, the more we can anticipate and expect men to step up and rise up to share in daily life demands.

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