Weekend leisure gap: Moms relax an hour less than dads

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Moms, dads and leisure time

Moms, dads and leisure time (Uwe Krejci, Getty photo / April 28, 2014)

It's Monday morning — do you know where your leisure time went?

A new report from the Pew Research Center says the leisure gap between moms and dads, which is minimal during the week, grows to a one-hour difference on weekends. Fathers, on average, devote 5.5 hours per day to leisure on weekends, while mothers devote 4.5 hours per day on weekends.

For the report, Pew analyzed American Time Use Survey data from 2003-2012. The same analysis found that during the week, dads devote 3.3 hours per day to leisure (defined as "time explicitly devoted to recreational activities or relaxation"), while moms devote 3.2 hours per day.

When the weekend arrives, however, dads leave more time for relaxing than moms do.

Moms, who devote 2.4 hours per day to housework and 2.1 hours per day to child care during the week, step up the housework to 2.8 hours per day on the weekends and scale back the child care to 1.5 hours per day. Dads during the week average 1.1 hours per day for housework and 1 hour per day for child care. On the weekends, dads almost double their housework time to 2 hours per day, and their child care time stays about the same — 1.1 hours per day.

It's time to prioritize our leisure, moms.

Two hours per weekend might not seem like much of a difference, but when you consider how much your average multi-tasking, ball-juggling, clock-watching parent can accomplish in the span of a 24-minute kid's show, you realize that those two hours can have a significant impact on your quality of life.

Gretchen Rubin, author of international best-selling "The Happiness Project" (Harper), says some of us, regardless of gender and parental status, have trouble taking time for themselves.

"Some people can only make themselves do something if they have external accountability — if it feels important and needs to get done," Rubin says. "If it's not an obligation, they won't make time for it."

Rubin recommends finding ways to hold ourselves accountable for fun and relaxation.

"Do it with a friend who's going to be annoyed if you cancel," Rubin says. "Sign up for a class where the instructor will get mad if you don't show up."

Leisure time, she says, shouldn't feel like an impossible luxury.

"I talked to a woman who said, 'My ultimate fantasy is to spend one afternoon a month kayaking,'" Rubin said. "That is not an unattainable dream. The president of the United States could do that."

If Barack is busy, ask a pal to join you instead. Just make sure she'd be annoyed if you canceled.

hstevens@tribune.com

Twitter @heidistevens13

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