Want to know the best way for a father to de-stress? Grab a broom. And maybe fold some socks.
Researchers at Lancaster University found that the happiest dads are the ones that do more of the housework themselves, spend more time with their children, and have partners that work about the same number of hours as they do. (Seriously, this is not a trick to get you to do chores, guys.)
It’s true—fathers that reported doing an equal—or in some cases, more—of the daily housework associated with childcare also reported the least amount of stress. The study also found that men are feeling a pointed lack of “family time.”
The way we “do” family has changed—not only because mothers are more likely to go out to work but also because today both mothers and fathers want close relationships with children as they are growing up, said lead researcher Dr. Caroline Gatrell.
Of course, right? I mean, who still upholds the at-arm’s-length-fathering strategy a la Don Draper? And what modern dad doesn’t want to be around to play with their kids?
But the study found that despite these changing attitudes, employers don’t seem to be catching on.
This is creating a massive problem for both men and women. Women are having their careers blocked by employers who assume that, once children come along, their commitment to the workplace will be severely compromised. But the same myth is also disadvantaging men who find themselves being their child’s main or only caregiver, because employers aren’t offering them work-life balance choices. It is time workplace attitudes changed to recognize the massive changes that have taken place in family practices in the 21st century.
Other surprises from the study: Turns out men with two children—as opposed to three or one—are the most calm. Researchers explain that new fathers are more likely to stress, and that once the third child comes around, the financial burden often causes blood pressure to rise.