Page last updated at 12:21 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 13:21 UK

Parents 'spend more' quality time with children

A family watching television
Mothers and fathers appear to be devoting more time to family life

The time parents spend with their children increased over a 25-year period, research suggests.

Mothers spent the most quality time with children, clocking up between 51 to 86 minutes a day in 2000, compared to eight to 21 minutes in 1975.

The study from the University of Oxford suggests that more parents are reading to their sons and daughters, as well as visiting child-friendly attractions.

Researchers analysed thousands of time diaries written by UK families.

The journals, from 1975 and 2000, were kept by parents with children under the age of 18 in their household.

Entertaining children

The figures showed fathers also spent more time with their children than their fathers did.

Fathers cared for their children for 32 to 36 minutes a day in 2000, compared to between three to eight minutes in 1975.

Dr Oriel Sullivan, a sociologist from the university, believes the changes could be down to men taking a bigger role in the home.

She said: "The last 50 years have seen a meaningful shift in the domestic division of labour across the countries of Western Europe and North America, with men contributing more both to housework and to child care.

"Research has shown that the longer the period of time a woman in a couple relationship has spent in full-time employment, the more housework their partner is likely to do."

The figures suggest previous generations were more relaxed about childcare and left their children to entertain themselves.

Researchers discovered women with higher education qualifications spent more quality time with their children compared to women with GCSEs or O-levels.

Shared housework

The research also showed a shift in the amount of time couples spent on household chores, with more men tackling the cleaning and laundry over the 25-year period studied.

On average men spent between 44 and 100 minutes a day on housework in 1975, but this rose to around 100 minutes in 2000.

Mothers spent between two hours to 151 minutes a day on household chores in 2000 and this rose to between 166 to 191 minutes 25 years later.

The time spent completing household chores was also analysed according to the level of each parent's education.

In 1975, fathers who left secondary school with no qualifications spent less than an hour on housework, compared to fathers with higher education qualifications who spent 100 minutes.

By 2000 the gap had closed, with all fathers spending more time cleaning the home.



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