The number of stay-at-home dads in the UK has increased by a third since the pandemic Parents and parenting | Daily News Byte


The number of stay-at-home dads in the UK has increased by a third since before the pandemic, with experts hailing a “monumental” cultural shift that has increased the quality time fathers spend with their children.

One in nine stay-at-home parents is a father, up from one in 14 in 2019, the latest Office for National Statistics data analysis shows. The number of fathers leaving the workforce to look after their families increased by 34% over the same period.

Between July and September this year, 141,000 fathers did not have a paid job and stayed at home, compared to 105,000 fathers during the same period in 2019, contributing to more than 600,000 “missing workers” since the pandemic.

Adrian Burgess, co-CEO of the Fatherhood Institute, said the Covid restrictions were an extraordinary catalyst for change in the lives of working fathers. Its analysis shows that the amount of time all fathers in Britain spend looking after their children has increased by almost a fifth (18%) since 2015, from an average of 47 minutes a day to 55 in 2022.

“Mothers are working more and fathers are increasing their childcare and housework. Both of these areas have shown significant changes when it comes to how we measure gender equality,” said Burgess.

Stay-at-home dads are still in the minority, but statistics show that the number of stay-at-home moms has dropped by 11% over the same period. 1.2 million mothers were out of the workforce for family reasons from July to September this year, compared to 1.3 million during the same period in 2019.

ONS data shows similar trends for men and women, whether they have children or not. The number of men currently not part of the workforce for family reasons increased by 5% in October 2022 compared to the same period in 2019, while the number of women decreased by 16%. However, compared to last year, women leaving the labor market due to family commitments increased by 2.5% – to 35,000 – while the number of men decreased by 1.6% – 4,000.

Taking care of family and home is one of the main reasons for women to be out of the workforce – 28% of women are out of the labor market due to family commitments, compared to just 7% of men.

Robin Lewis, who previously worked in ecommerce marketing, became a stay-at-home dad about 18 months after his Lockdown baby Dylan was born. “If I was in the office, I don’t think it would have crossed my mind to be a stay-at-home dad,” he said. While the experience was often challenging and exhausting, she said, it was “enlightening” — and gave her a completely different perspective on the challenges working women face after childbirth.

“If you have men who are stay-at-home dads and see it from the other side, I think that’s one of the main ways we can make a difference,” he said.

Fathers now make up more than 10% of parents living in the UK

The pandemic also appears to have affected the amount of care provided by working fathers. In 2014-15, mothers in Great Britain spent 86% more time looking after children than men, which fell to 13% in March-April 2020, according to ONS data.

While the gap has widened since then, it is still narrower than before. In March 2022, mothers spent 53% more time caring for their children than men – a reduction of 33 percentage points in the care gap.

Fathers spent as much time on unpaid childcare as mothers did at the beginning of the epidemic

Research shows that the amount of time fathers spend caring for their children in the UK rose steadily from the 1970s to the mid-2000s but then plateaued, Burgess said.

“Fathers were essentially taking time away from sleep and personal leisure to care for their children instead, but by 2015 that had reached the limits of possibility,” she said. “It seems that the pandemic has been a catalyst for change.”

Scott James Currie, a father of two girls, said he decided to start his own architectural design practice from home so he could be more present for his daughters and support his wife’s career. “I miss the early years of our first daughter so much, I used to leave home at 6 in the morning and get home at 7 in the evening,” he said. “I just thought: wait a minute, there’s a better way.”

Now she takes her older daughter, Isobel, to school every day, and picks up her 15-month-old, Nella, from nursery – and often works again at bedtime. “Every day, I am more involved with my children than I was the first time. And, quite simply, it equals happiness.”

Their experience is echoed in the statistics, which show a significant increase in the number of fathers working from home. Working fathers now spend 6.5 times more time working from home than they did before the pandemic – they spend more than a third (37%) of their paid work time working from home, compared to 6% in 2014-15.

Mothers have also increased their hours working from home, but not by as much – they now work from home 27% of the time, up from 8% previously.

Dr. is a lecturer in human resource studies at Plymouth Business School. Jasmine Calland led a project studying fathers during the pandemic. “Fathers liked to get to know their children because they were home for mealtimes and were more actively involved,” she said. She and other scholars note that society has, at last, begun to shift.

“There’s been a real shift in what a ‘good dad’ looks like – the archetypal breadwinning dad like Mary Poppins is long gone. Now if you want to be a good dad, you’re expected to be active in day-to-day parenting rather than just paying the bills. Play the role.”

Despite the protestations of some politicians that workers have to go back to the office, workers and work working are here to stay, Burgess said. “This is fantastic news for families,” she said. “If mothers work more, they earn more, the gender earnings gap narrows, and that gives them more power. More egalitarian power in families is associated with all sorts of better outcomes for children.


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