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This study used data from the ‘Well Being Module’ of the 2010 American Time Use Survey (N = 1699) to analyze how parents experience child care time in terms of meaning and stress levels. Multivariate multilevel regressions showed clear differences by gender and the circumstances of child care activities. Mothers experienced child care time as more stressful than fathers, and fathers as slightly more meaningful. Interactive child care was experienced as more meaningful and less stressful than routine child care, whereas these differences were stronger among fathers than among mothers. Mothers experienced child care with a minor child as highly meaningful, and with an adolescent as particularly stressful. Fathers experienced child care with an infant as highly stressful, and with an offspring in middle childhood as disproportionally meaningful. The spouse’s presence was moderately associated with higher senses of meaning and lower levels of stress during child care, but these differences were modest, and only visible among fathers. Paid work hours increased mothers’ stress levels during child care activities, but reduced fathers’ stress levels. Meanwhile, nonemployed fathers reported child care time as less meaningful than non-employed mothers. Overall, this study has important scientific and practical implications for `understanding the gendered nature of parents’ child care time and well-being.
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- Child Care Time, Parents’ Well-Being, and Gender: Evidence from the American Time Use Survey
- Springer US