### Seeking Solitude: Moms, Longing for More Me-Time? You’re Not Alone

Parenthood poses challenges for all individuals, without a doubt. Every parent occasionally yearns for some solitude, yet societal progress seems unable to fully eradicate the influence of gender stereotypes on parental responsibilities. In traditional heterosexual families, mothers typically shoulder a greater share of parenting duties. A recent study conducted by three researchers from Mount Royal University (MRU) revealed that mothers express a stronger desire for alone time compared to fathers.

Utilizing data from Statistics Canada’s Time Use Survey, the researchers examined the gender disparities in the preferred amount of solitary time and how these variations correlate with the division of parenting responsibilities among Canadian mothers and fathers with at least one child under five years old. The study found that over half of mothers expressed a need for more personal time, whereas approximately one-third of fathers echoed the same sentiment. For mothers, the desire for solitude was influenced by household chores, childcare, and employment outside the home.

The study’s abstract highlights that the heightened responsibilities and stress faced by mothers in caring for young children often lead to a sense of isolation and a longing for solitary moments. In contrast, fathers who are less involved in domestic tasks tend to have more time and energy for work, thus desiring less alone time. The researchers emphasized the persistent gap in childcare responsibilities among Canadian parents, despite advancements in parental leave policies since the 1960s.

Professor Tom Buchanan, a sociology expert at MRU, emphasized the prolonged research on the parenting gap and its enduring nature. While exceptions exist, the study does not imply that parents wish to distance themselves from their children but rather view alone time as a valuable resource that enhances the parenting experience. The lack of solitude, particularly among mothers, can impact their well-being, labor productivity, and long-term economic prosperity.

Buchanan recognized that mothers may inadvertently assume the role of “gatekeepers” in household and childcare duties, even when fathers are willing to contribute. Addressing these dynamics through open communication and intentional planning could help alleviate inequalities within couples. Policy changes, such as mandatory parental leave in the workplace, could promote a more equitable distribution of parenting responsibilities between mothers and fathers, leading to a fairer society and improved organizational performance.

Looking ahead, the researchers aim to delve deeper into the mental and cognitive burdens borne by mothers compared to fathers, utilizing forthcoming data from Statistics Canada to gain further insights into family dynamics and gender roles.