The majority of fathers in the UK work full-time jobs while a high percentage of mothers work part-time and their reference to a double-shift of paid work and unpaid childcare remains common. For these parents, the ‘daddy shift’ in childcare is often very important. By the ‘daddy shift’ I am referring to childcare that fathers do on their own. And the numbers of fathers involved in doing this is growing. In my research, just under half of the fathers interviewed were doing the ‘daddy shift’
The daddy shift is important for mothers who want a break from childcare or who want or need to earn money. The daddy shift is also important for those working fathers who want to develop caring and loving relationships with their children.
The daddy shift tends to take place in the evenings or on weekends – outside of typical working hours. These times are often seen as being family time or quality time that is off-limits to employers. For a growing minority, the daddy shift also takes place during the day (Mon – Fri), times which are traditionally for mother care.
Interestingly, in my research, the daddy shift took place because mothers were absent from the home or unavailable to care. This is either due to paid work, education, leisure or illness. Many fathers said that the daddy shift – looking after children on your own – was hard work. This was especially the case with young children and for long stretches of time. Many fathers claimed that needing a break from fulltime childcare was necessary for them. It is often after experiencing the ‘daddy shift’ that fathers either choose to become more involved and to share the care with mothers – or to back away from it.
Importantly, many fathers looked to other fathers to see what they were doing. The more that people talk about sharing care and doing things differently, the more ‘ordinary’ the daddy shift will become….to the point where it is no longer a shift but a way of life.
To help make this change, add your comments here, vote in this blog’s poll, or have a look at my article on the Enterprise Nation website.