Where Do They Find the Time?
An Analysis of How Parents Shift and Squeeze Their Time around Work and Child Care
Parents who undertake paid work are obliged to spend time away from their children, and to use nonparental childcare. This has given rise to concern that children are missing out on parental attention. However, time-use studies have consistently shown that parents who are in paid employment do not reduce their parental childcare time on an hour-for-hour basis. Since there are only 24 hours in the day, how do parents continue to be engaged in direct care of their own children while also committing significant time to labor market activities? Using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Time Use Survey 1997 (4,059 randomly selected households) to compare the time allocation of employed fathers, employed mothers, and mothers who are not in the labor force, this paper investigates how this phenomenon arises. The strategies available are reducing the time devoted to other activities (principally housework, sleep, leisure, bathing, dressing, grooming, eating), and rescheduling activities (from weekends to weekdays, or changing the time of day at which particular activities are undertaken). The paper investigates whether parents use nonparental care to reschedule as well as to replace their own care.