Monday, October 22, 2012

The Perfect Day? (Surprise, surprise: it doesn't include kids)

Recent research published in the Journal of Economic Psychology revealed something interesting, but probably not surprising to us childfree folks.

Researchers asked 900 women what they do each day and how they feel about it and then based on this information assembled a "woman's perfect day". Here is the breakdown:

- 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep
- 106 minutes of intimate relations with their partner
- 98 minutes of computer (email and internet)
- 82 minutes of socializing with friends
- 78 minutes relaxing
- 75 minutes eating
- 68 minutes exercising
- 57 minutes talking on the phone
- 56 minutes shopping
- 50 minutes preparing food
- 36 minutes working
- 33 minutes commuting
- 2 minutes doing housework
- 2 minutes with their children

This research is all over the morning shows today and the show hosts are carrying on and cackling about the revelation that women are so into "intimate relations". What they downplayed, though, is the more interesting factor - that time with their children is all the way at the bottom of the list of things that comprise a woman's "perfect day".

This is interesting when we consider that motherhood is touted as a woman's greatest joy in life and the thing that brings her the greatest life satisfaction. Moms are constantly congratulating each other and holding each other up as virtual saints, and continually praising their mom role in every venue available. Meanwhile, women who choose not to have children are perceived as misguided and unhappy and derided for being clueless, having empty, meaningless lives and not knowing what is truly important in life.

Yet, when research like this comes out, the truth reveals itself. If motherhood is such a joy, why does "time with their children" rank at the very bottom of the list of things that comprise a woman's perfect day? If being a mom is so joyful, and motherhood is the most satisfying part of a woman's life, shouldn't we expect to see "time with kids" toward the TOP of this list?

Research such as this illuminates the buried truth about motherhood - that it is primarily drudgery and not the joyful nirvana it is made out to be. Look closely at the description above of the perfect day and ask yourself: who is more likely to experience a perfect day - a childfree woman or a mom? I think you know the answer.


CeCe said...

Wow. Time with kids ranked down with house work. That's pretty sad. But really, how fun is it watching cartoons and playing tea party while you are exhausted from work or lack of sleep and pretending to have fun? I love my nephew but he's so exhausting. They just play, play, play away and as a parent you can't just ignore them no matter how tired you are or how many things you have to do. As an auntie it's only temporary.

Lady Bosworth said...

Thanks for posting this. I was fascinated by this research and wanted to read the whole article. I was a little surprised the numbers in the study were actually a bit different from stated in that article. Not sure if the original news site read the full article. But they differed in a few areas. Here is the list as seen in a graphic in the original study:

Commuting: 33 min
Working: 36 min
Housework: 47 min
Computer/e-mail/internet: 48 min
Taking care of children: 46
Napping: 46 min
On the Phone: 57 min
Preparing Food: 50 min
Shopping: 56 min
Watching TV: 55 min
Exercising: 68 min
Eating: 75 min
Pray/worship/meditate: 73 min
Relaxing: 78 min
Socializing: 82 min
Intimate relations: 106 min

It seems to make more sense with children at 46 min. Not sure where the article gets its information on children and housework at only 2min.

Anyway, thought I would just point it out. I found the original study from the Journal of Economic Psychology at

I have the graphic as well in a pdf but dont think I can load that here.

Spectra said...

I read a magazine article in "Prevention" that said that women are happiest at around age 50. The reason? That's when they become empty-nesters. I find that interesting...even women who think being a mom is so great love it when their kids leave forever. I read the article smiling because I don't have to wait until I'm 50 to be happy. Oh, and my ideal Saturday does usually go something like that perfect day written there. But I get to indulge in those days much more often than my mom friends.

kangamasf said...

Mothers wanting (and needing) eight hours of sleep each night always seem to say their love for their kid(s) is worth their kid(s) causing them sleepless nights. Well, that's nice but love doesn't keep the mothers from being so rundown from lack of sleep they can barely function to watch their kids.

CFVixen said...

This is interesting. I think that some mothers are becoming a little more honest about how much drudgery pareting really is. At least I've noticed that in my social circle. There are less(though they still exist) that insist that children are the most fulfilling part of their worlds. Maybe with more articles like these, and more illumination of the childfree lifestyle, the pronatalism culture will diminish. We can only hope.

Temujin said...

106 minutes of intimate relations?

I don't understand. What's the other 104 minutes for? Nappping? ;-)

Alex said...

Similarly, a new (another?) study has come out showing that babies ruin parents' marriages and sex lives. My favorite parts:

(From the article):

[quote]If parents in Norway, a country with a robust public infrastructure to support families, aren’t happy, one shudders to think what American moms and dads are up against.[/quote]

From the study's abstract:

[quote]In a group of couples who did not have children, results indicated more gradual deterioration in relationship functioning during the first 8 years of marriage without the sudden changes seen in parents, suggesting that the results seen in the parent sample may be due to birth.[/quote]

Hear that? They MAY be due to birth. MAYBE. It surprises me not at all that, as a child and now as an adult, the people I knew who seemed to have the best marriages didn't have kids. I knew two CF couples when I was a kid (my aunt and uncle, and a much-older cousin and her husband), and I always wanted to be just like them, even before I was old enough to really understand family dynamics or what "childfree" was. Even at that young age, I could see the (negative) effects of having kids, even if I didn't fully understand what I was seeing.

Artemis said...

I really liked this research, although it was not a surprise. What is more interesting is that, after having kids, the rest of the list gets impossible to do, or have their time shortened. One thing me and my partner did - just out of curiosity - was making a list of the things we like to do everyday/weekends/vacation, and how many of them could we keep on doing if we had kids. It ended in NONE of them lol Childfree forever, you bet!

Unknown said...

Parenthood must be the "most rewarding job in the planet", but parents need to admit that it's also the "most exhausting job in the planet".

Erin said...

Another nail in the childfree coffin! I'm a woman who loves kids, but can't imagine 24/7 motherhood. I have weak moments where I see a well-behaved child in a restaurant and think, "Maybe it could work." BUT, I have had the advantage of being a nanny for 10+ years and can say with no hesitation that motherhood is such a crock, it's unbelievable. The amount of time parents actually WANT to spend with their children is minimal at best. It's a facade, and it seems as though people age and think, "OK. Now I have children." Yet, they have ZERO experience or knowledge as to what raising children is actually like!!

I was watching Giuliana and Bill the other day, and I could not believe the lack of insight and knowledge as to what it takes to raise a child. I'm in no way saying you have to be an expert, but the most everyday happenings of being a mom, G knew nothing about! No clue how to change a diaper, a couple hours with her friend's child was a brand new experience, parent classes, and bla bla bla.

This is a prime example of how it is a societal expectation to grow up, get married (or not), and have kids because that's what you're supposed to do. Having children with ZERO knowledge of what it entails is like me watching a commercial and going to my OB GYN for some birth control shot I have no education about because they told me to do it.

WHAT!?!?!? THIS IS WHY so many kids are now the rulers of the house, spoiled, have a sense of entitlement, and no manners. Parents who have no friggen clue.

Sherri.S said...

That's hilarious, ironic and vindicating all rolled into one.

christineh123 said...

I truly don't think that the results of this article actually make a strong case against motherhood at all. It describes a fantasy perfect DAY, not life. Kind of like a day of playing hookie. Not how one might want to live EVERY day...just ONE day. For example, it shows approximately half an hour spent on work, but I think many of us like our jobs and are happy to be employed. However, a perfect day would include very little of it. Another example, many of us absolutely do have the opportunity to spend 106 minutes on intimate relations, but would we all truly choose to spend that amount every single day? No thanks. That amount per WEEK would suffice for some. Or, in my perfect day, I wouldn't have to get up at 6am to walk my dog...but that certainly doesn't mean I don't want to be a dog owner.

Cameron Grey Rose said...

I called a friend on her birthday to wish her happiness. Then I asked what her husband was giving her for that day "8 hours of sleep" I laughed.

"no I'm serious, I haven't had 8 hours of sleep in a row in two years. Not since Fiona was born. I'm losing my mind. I need to sleep. he asked what I wanted. I want to sleep."

Two years? Fiona should be sleeping through the night a year ago? "She gets hunger or she gets untucked. I have to tuck her in" ummmmm Eric doesn't tuck her in? ever? "oh now he's the dad, he's never even brushed her hair or given her a bath" IN TWO YEARS?