DENVER — New research shows working from home is impacting the mental well-being of parents in two very different ways.
A new study from McKinsey & Co. consulting firm found dads are taking to the remote lifestyle much more than moms. The research shows 71% of fathers say working from home is helping to improve their mental health, while only 41% of mothers reported the same.
According to the report, moms are more than three times as likely to pick up most of the housework and childcare during the pandemic compared with dads.
“That’s certainly an alarming discrepancy between the two. When you think about just the added workflow that was required on households in the last year, it’s been a year unlike any other,” said Dr. Justin Ross, a Clinical Psychologist at UCHealth.
Ross said this includes the amount of information each parent must know, the to-do lists and planning and thinking that contributes to making sure the household runs effectively.
“If that load isn’t being evenly divided and it’s taking on by one person, not only does it impact the physicality of the day to day, but there’s this huge burden on cognitive load as well,” Ross said.
Research has found that 1 in 4 working women surveyed in North America were considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely. For working moms, especially those with small children, the number was 1 in 3.
“Decades of research show that women do significantly more housework and childcare than men—so much so that women who are employed full-time are often said to be working a ‘double shift,’” according to the McKinsey report.
That “double shift” also brings with it mental health hurdles, a difficult remote-work experience and concerns about higher rates of unemployment, particularly among mothers of color and single mothers, according to research.
Alexis Krivkovich, a senior partner at McKinsey and one of the authors of the report, said in The Lily that while working women have long sought greater flexibility on the job and remote work options, the pandemic has forced parents into “an experiment on flexibility” that hasn’t been equitable.
“What we found was mothers are now doing a double-double shift,” she said, noting that this was the first time in the six years since McKinsey started its annual report that researchers had seen such numbers.