Objective. This study examined and compared mothers’ perceptions of child care assistance provided by fathers and other caregivers. Awareness of child care division of labor will assist occupational therapists in addressing the needs of children with disabilities within the family context.
Method. One hundred and thirty-five mothers living in two-parent households kept a time diary of their daily activities for 7 consecutive days using the Caregiver’s Activity and Recording of Events Inventory and estimated the percentage of child care their partners performed, the amount of child care their partners performed, and their satisfaction with this division of labor. One third of the women had children with multiple disabilities, one third had children with Down syndrome, and one third had children who were typically developing.
Results. The majority of mothers in all three groups perceived that they were responsible for the majority of child care. There were no significant differences between groups in terms of mothers’ perceptions of the amount of child care provided by fathers and other caregivers, including relatives, childsitters, nurses, school personnel, and neighbors. However, there were wide variations among families concerning child care arrangements and division of labor. Seventy-five percent of mothers indicated that they were satisfied with the division of child care labor between mothers and fathers, and no significant correlation was found between perceived percentage of child care performed and satisfaction with the division of labor.
Conclusion. Mothers in this study were responsible for the majority of child care whether their child had a disability. The variation in number of hours that others spent performing child care activities within individual families suggests that there is no “best” or typical pattern. Occupational therapists need to collaborate with families to determine a system of accommodations to manage their daily routine that most effectively meets the family’s needs.