Busy, busy, busy. Ask any parent today how they are these days and that's response you're likely to get. Yet for all of that busyness, a new study has revealed today's parents actually spend way more time with their kids than the parents of 50 years ago.
In a survey compiled by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, 122,271 parents in Canada, the U.K, the U.S., Denmark, Norway, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Slovenia were asked to keep a daily journal tracking their activities.
According to the study, mothers in 1965 spent an average of 54 minutes a day on child rearing activities that included preparing food, feeding, bathing, changing diapers, helping kids get dressed, reading, playing with kids and helping them with homework. The moms of 2012 doubled those numbers, spending around 104 minutes per day on and with their children.
Dads saw an even greater increase in family time up from 16 minutes in 1965 to 59 minutes in 2012.
As a side note here, I should mention that these numbers seem drastically low to me. I have talked to hundreds if not thousands of parents over the years and even those parents who work two jobs and juggle a host of other responsibilities manage to spend more time than this with their children — even if it's time spent making dinner together or just watching TV.
But the data reflects not just families in this country but in 10 other countries in Europe and North America. And one thing I will agree with is that parents definitely do seem to spend more time with their kids today than they did in my parents' and grandparents' generations.
Interestingly, when the research team compared data from parents of different education levels, they found that college-educated moms spent 123 minutes each day with their kids compared with 94 minutes spent by mothers with less education. The same held true for dads. Fathers with a college degree spent 74 minutes each day with their kids while less educated dads spent 50 minutes a day.
In the age of "busy, busy, busy," how is it possible that today's parents are more engaged with their kids?
Maybe it's because today's parents are so busy with activities that involve their children. No longer content to drop kids off at practices and games, parents today have jumped from the bleachers to the field, assisting coaches, reffing games, making props for the dance troupe, volunteering at robotics tournaments and watching their kids sing, swing and score with gusto. We're busy — but we're busy with doing things with our children and that makes for more time together as a family.
Whatever the reason, it's interesting — and heartening — to note that with all of our busyness, we are still managing to spend more time than ever with our kids. It's a trend that's as beneficial to kids as it is to their parents.