The Average Amount Of Time Parents Spend With Their Kids A Day Is So Low

Are you a parent who feels guilty for not spending enough time with your kids every day? Perhaps you are chasing money and prestige more than you should. Good news! The average amount of time parents spend with their kids a day is shockingly low!

The amount of time is so low, it makes me question the veracity of the source: OurWorldInData.org. It's kind of like when you hear the often cited, “40% of Americans can't come up with the money for a $1,000 emergency.” Is that really true?

Our World In Data offers the average amount of time parents spend with their children per day in the UK, Canada, France, German, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, and the United States.

The organization was started in 2011 by Max Roser, a development economist at University of Oxford. Although the organization is two years younger than Financial Samurai, I'll accept it!

The Average Amount Of Time Parents Spend With Their Kids A Day

To guilty-feeling parents everywhere, feast your eyes on the below chart! It shows the average amount of time parents spend with their kids a day by country.

The average amount of time parents spend with their kids by country and mothers and fathers

Shocking, right?!

The average amount of time university-educated moms spend with their children is 120 minutes a day in America. The average amount of time university-educated dads spend with their children is just 85 minutes a day.

Non-university educated parents spend about 20% less time a day with their children than university-educated parents.

What the hell is going on here? With 24 hours in a day, how can parents be spending, on average, so little time with their under 13-year-old children?

I'm particularly disappointed in how little dads are spending with their children.

A Typical Day For A Working Parent

Let's say your 4-year-old son wakes up at 7 am. You greet him good morning, let him go to the bathroom, change clothes, and feed him breakfast. That's about an hour right there.

From 8 am – 8:30 am, you read him stories and play a few games with him. We're now at the 1.5 hour mark.

At 8:30 am you drop him off at preschool, even though there's a global pandemic with new strains. You pick him up at 4 pm and go for a walk after giving him a quick snack. Then you play with him from 4:30 pm until 6:30 pm. You've now spent four hours with your son.

He eats dinner for 30 minutes with you and then it's another 40 minutes of play time before bath and teeth brushing time. You read him a story before going to bed at 8 pm.

Tally it up and you've spent a total of 5.5 hours with your son who also goes to preschool. That's 330 minutes versus the average of 55 – 125 minutes a day.

Related: Career Or Family? You Only Need To Sacrifice Career For 5 Years At Most

A Typical Day For A Stay At Home Parent

Now let's say you are a stay at home parent with a 3-year-old who does not yet go to school. Your day may start at 7 am and end at 8 pm. That's 13 hours or 780 minutes of time spent with your child.

Let's say your spouse or a grandparent helps out for four hours a day. That's still 9 hours or 540 minutes of time spent with your child a day.

Or let's say both spouses retired early. Even if you split the time 50/50, that's still 6.5 hours or 390 minutes of time with your child spent a day.

If your child happens to not sleep through the night, you could add another 1-3 hours of time spent at night soothing your child to an already 13-hour day!

Perhaps Spending Lots Of Time With Your Kids Doesn't Matter

Even though the data seems off, let's say the data is totally legit. Here are some conclusions from the data:

  • You no longer need to feel guilty spending so little time with your kids. If you only spend three hours a day with your kids as a mom, you are spending 50% more than the average time a college-educated mom spends with her kids. Instead of feeling guilty, give yourself a big pat on the back! Most kids turn out fine on less than two hours a day spent with their parents before age 13.
  • Having two stay at home parents is an overkill. It's better to have at least one parent go to work full-time to improve the household's finances. After all, a working parent can still spend 3 hours a day with their child, which would still be 100% longer than the average college-educated dad and 50% longer than the average college-educated mom.
  • Perhaps having one stay at home parent is overkill too. Denmark is consistently considered the happiest country in the world. With the average amount of time parents spend on their kids at 150 minutes and and 115 minutes for college-educated moms and dads, we can conclude that 115 – 150 minutes is the gold standard. A stay at home parent spending 2X – 5X more time with their kids is unnecessary.
Happiest countries in the world - average amount of time parents spend with their kids
[The happiest country in the world is also #1 in average time spent with kids]
  • Being a stay at home parent when your kids are in school is unnecessary. School often lasts for six to seven hours. Then there's after school activities and hanging out with friends. Spending 150 minutes of time with your children before and after work is probably the most your children will want to spend with you once they are in their teens anyway.

Don't Feel Guilty Working Instead Of Parenting

I still think an optimal parenting / work solution, if possible, is to be a stay at home parent for the initial two to three years of a child's life. After all, doctors say the first five years are the most important years for child development. Two to three years is not that long of a period of time to be out of the work force.

By three, you can send your child off to preschool. Once in school, it's easier to go back to work full time. You shouldn't have too much difficulty finding a decent job after two to three years.

Even if you can't take two to three years off of work to care for your child, you can still spend at least 50% more time than the average amount of time an American parent spends with their child a day.

Times are damn hard for working parents during a global pandemic. However, the silver lining, at the margin, is parents are spending more time with their children. Even if it's just 30 more minutes a day on average, that's at least a 20% increase.

Beat The Median And Average Time Parents Spend With Their Kids

What I've come to realize is that the median or average in various facets of life isn't that high. Therefore, it should be relatively easy to outperform and get ahead if you want to.

For example, according to an older Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, the median retirement savings by age in the U.S. is:

  • 20s: $16,000
  • 30s: $45,000
  • 40s: $63,000
  • 50s: $117,000
  • 60s: $172,000

Surely, the large majority of Financial Samurai readers will be able to crush these median retirement savings by age.

In another example, below is a chart that shows the median and average 401(k) balances by age in the shaded grey columns versus my recommendations.

Once again, I'm positive the majority of personal finance enthusiasts will be able to surpass both the median and average 401(k) balances by age.

Median and average 401(k) account balance buy age

Given the average amount of time parents spend with their children is so low, it should be fairly easy to become more involved parents. This is especially true now that we know the baseline 55 – 125 minutes per day.

Once we know the baseline or some specific figures to shoot for, we do a much better job at improving.

The Struggle To Be A Good Father

Since my son was born in 2017, I've struggled to feel like a good father. Goodness knows I've tried my best to spend as much time with him as possible as a stay at home dad.

I've read all the books about childcare, taken him to all the parks, gone for hours-long walks, read to him, played with him, and loved him as much as a dad could.

Unfortunately, I'm always second fiddle to mom, who is also a stay at home parent. This is one of the downsides when both parents are stay at home parents.

Things were tough while we homeschooled during the pandemic. Our son would easily get grouchy and jealous of having his younger sister around all the time. And he'd often take his frustrations out on her and me. Despite the rebuffs, I kept on trying because I felt guilty if I didn't spend at least 4-5 hours a day with him. After all, I finish my writing by 9 am each morning.

Fortunately, now that our son is back in school, there is a lot more balance and appreciation. Every time I pick him up from school, he shouts the loudest “Daddddddddy!” when he sees me.

And I also get to spend more one-on-one time with our daughter. Hooray! As older parents, we can actually spend lots more time with our kids than younger parents. I plan to make up for as much lost time as possible and more.

If you are a father, how much time on average do you spend with your kids?

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Much Less Guilt After Seeing The Data

After seeing this data on how much time parents spend with their kids a day, I no longer feel bad only spending 180 to 300 minutes a day with him. That's 3X – 4X the average for fathers in America.

Therefore, after my 180 – 300 minutes a day of childcare is up, I will now feel guilt-free to do whatever I want. Besides, forcing my son to spend more than 180 – 300 minutes of childcare with me is too much. He wants diversity.

I tend to overdo many things I do. I can't stand just putting in the average amount of effort when I have the energy to do more. But in this case, it's good to throttle my efforts to maintain harmony. I can also channel my efforts to providing more for my family.

It's go time to earn as much as possible until there is herd immunity. Then it's back to the early retirement lifestyle I so long for.

You're Spending More Time With Your Kids Than You Think

I hope most parents feel better about their parenting now. Most of us are giving way more attention and love than the average parent. Therefore, we should be proud of our efforts instead of ashamed.

It feels like evolution has made it so that one parent needs to always be earning to ensure the survival of our species. Therefore, if you are the parent successfully bringing home the bacon, feel great about your contribution.

And if you can do so by not having to work due to your passive income investments, then more power to you. Spend your free time doing whatever you darn please!

Finding a balance between childcare and other activities is vital for long-term happiness.

If you are a mother, how much time on average do you spend with your kids a day?

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The Dad Guilt Epidemic Nobody Acknowledges

The Source Of All Stress: Giving A Giant Crap

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Readers, what is the average amount of time you spend with your children a day? Do you believe the data? For older children (14+), I can see how spending two hours a day is the average. But for young children, there's just no way.

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45 thoughts on “The Average Amount Of Time Parents Spend With Their Kids A Day Is So Low”

  1. Reading this and the comments make me very grateful. Due to my work we have lived in remote areas since our daughter was born. She is five now.
    There was no childcare available so she just came to work with me until she was three years old. Being a youth worker I was doing my notes and meetings from home and bringing her along to activities. I also had flexible hours.
    For the last two years we moved somewhere less remote, but still very remote.
    I feel lucky because it only takes 5 minutes to drive to work. I know in the cities people drive or commute up to 2 hours and day cares open crazy early and close after dark.
    I’m a single mother working full time now in a 9 to 5 job.
    Our days are 7am to 8:45 getting ready then I pick her up at 5 and we hang out until 7-730 where she falls asleep with book and chats from 6:45pm onwards. Weekends together obviously. We spend about 4 hours a day together but it feels so little. I don’t like having her doing more than about 35 hours a week in day care so I cut corners all the time – picking up an hour early here and there, dropping off an hour later – bring her in to hang out with me at work if I don’t have clients.
    One thing I find that has helped me is being mindful. I can’t stand the morning ‘ rush’. Yes we are getting dressed, packing lunch/ making dinner whatever it is but she wakes in the morning and says ” ok mum first game of the day is…” so we play and get ready at the same time. Sometimes I say argh bub I woke late please just get dressed we gotta go and it’s toast in the car or whatever but I really dislike to hassle her so yes we are doing the routine thing but I stop myself to focus on what she needs – did she get up and dressed and excited for the day or does she need extra hugs this morning and a bit longer to wake up? In this way I do still consider our morning or nights quality time because we are still focusing on each other and having a laugh where we can. We also chat about the day ahead or plans for the weekend or she tells me what day of the week it is or how many days until days off or ‘ice cream day’ which is Friday. I still feel like we are learning together even though our time is short. Also some days she has things to get ready but some days it feels like its mostly me getting everything organised so she is free to play before the day so I’ll just be talking while she does some craft or something but we are always planning our next little project together or deciding what we want to eat that night. I guess since it’s just us two she has way more say in things than a normal just turned five year old would but we like it that way as we are a team!
    I still don’t really want to be working full time hours so I guess that;s what brought me to this article in the first place – it is a choice and I’ve told her that – we can stay together all day but there won’t be holidays away or icecream day! Trying to find a balance – bring on the four day re-definition of “full time” work week i say.

  2. Reading this and the comments make me very grateful. Due to my work we have lived in remote areas since our daughter was born. She is five now.
    There was no childcare available so she just came to work with me until she was three years old. Being a youth worker I was doing my notes and meetings from home and bringing her along to activities. I also had flexible hours.
    For the last two years we moved somewhere less remote, but still very remote.
    I feel lucky because it only takes 5 minutes to drive to work. I know in the cities people drive or commute up to 2 hours and day cares open crazy early and close after dark.
    I’m a single mother working full time now in a 9 to 5 job.
    Our days are 7am to 8:45 getting ready then I pick her up at 5 and we hang out until 7-730 where she falls asleep with book and chats from 6:45pm onwards. Weekends together obviously. We spend about 4 hours a day together but it feels so little. I don’t like having her doing more than about 35 hours a week in day care so I cut corners all the time – picking up an hour early here and there, dropping off an hour later – bring her in to hang out with me at work if I don’t have clients.
    One thing I find that has helped me is being mindful. I can’t stand the morning ‘ rush’. Yes we are getting dressed, packing lunch/ making dinner whatever it is but she wakes in the morning and says ” ok mum first game of the day is…” so we play and get ready at the same time. Sometimes I say argh bub I woke late please just get dressed we gotta go and it’s toast in the car or whatever but I really dislike to hassle her so yes we are doing the routine thing but I stop myself to focus on what she needs – did she get up and dressed and excited for the day or does she need extra hugs this morning and a bit longer to wake up? In this way I do still consider our morning or nights quality time because we are still focusing on each other and having a laugh where we can. We also chat about the day ahead or plans for the weekend or she tells me what day of the week it is or how many days until days off or ‘ice cream day’ which is Friday. I still feel like we are learning together even though our time is short. Also some days she has things to get ready but some days it feels like its mostly me getting everything organised so she is free to play before the day so I’ll just be talking while she does some craft or something but we are always planning our next little project together or deciding what we want to eat that night. I guess since it’s just us two she has way more say in things than a normal just turned five year old would but we like it that way as we are a team!
    I still don’t really want to be working full time hours so I guess that;s what brought me to this article in the first place – it is a choice and I’ve told her that – we can stay together all day but there won’t be holidays away or icecream day! Trying to find a balance – bring on the four day re-definition of “full time” work week i say.

  3. Peter Goldman

    I’d like to point out that the website’s choice of ‘minutes spent together’ seems like a strange metric. You could spend hours with someone and not talk about anything important and impact each other very little. Or you can have a deep conversation with your child lasting five minutes, but a lifetime in spirit.

    Sometimes, parents are spending time around their children but not with them. I see this daily when I see my neighbor watching TikTok while her poor 6 year old child wanders into the street or gets injured. She probably wouldn’t notice if the child died until 30 minutes later.

    When I am helping my children get ready for school, I’m not really connecting with them. Honestly, I’m just trying to get them to put their pants on. Yes, that contact is important for their physical development and life skills, but the hour I spend herding them before school is not important to their emotional and social development. Even just 20 minutes of reading together and reflecting on the day before bed made a world of difference between child 1 and child 2.

  4. Reading this makes me feel very lucky. I work part-time and my toddler comes to work with me. She absolutely loves socializing with others, plus she has lots of space to run around and play with her toys (I own a gym, if you’re curious). When I’m not working, we are together going to parks, playing, making food – whatever. I personally wouldn’t have it any other way. However, I plan to start taking her to little mommy-daughter playgroups so she can start to make friends her age.
    I think if a mom (or dad) is able to, in terms of finances and personal temperament, she or he should put their career on the backburner for a little while to give their children the attention and love they deserve. Our daughter is advanced in several ways (according to her pediatrician and our families) and I think it has a lot to do with us giving her so much attention, as well as listening to adults talk all day long as opposed to children using baby-ish talk.

  5. Codswallop.
    Your breakdown is as absurd as flying hippopotami.
    On the closest thing I have to a regular work day:
    I am up by 6am
    My child is up at 6:30
    I’m not reading or playing with him, I’m making breakfast and getting things ready for us to leave by 7:30 to get him to school and me to work.
    I get home after 5:00pm
    STILL not playing or reading (for fun). Have to do school work, make dinner, clean, take out the trash, get him in a bath, and to bed by 8:30pm
    If I get 30 minutes of just being a human with my child it’s an incredibly good day.

    I seriously have to question your humanity if you think this isn’t a problem.

    1. Curious, what is it exactly you think I’m questioning? What daily breakdown? I JUST heard of your schedule right now, which sounds like a long day indeed.

      I understand that venting may help. But it may be more beneficial to actually get more support from others for childcare.

      You can always make up your lack of childcare during the weekdays, over the weekend.

      1. How is an average of what some parents do a gold standard? 2x to 5x more is unnecessary for what? Just not needed? Ever? Because some people don’t do that? This is chock full of non sequitur. None of these standards are based on data reflective of how they impact the child. And that guy wasn’t vinting. He was just speaking emphatically. And it’s extremely odd that everybody here is looking for the minimum amount of time that they have to spend with their kids before it turns nuclear. This guy seems to want more *meaningful* time with his kids. I might be wrong but you seem to be seeking the minimum required, but it isn’t clear why. That might be the cause of your misunderstanding.

        If I said “some people worry they don’t have enough pieces of paper. Most people have 4. Some have 10. So therefore having 100 is unnecessary. If your small stash of paper is meant for making art but used to print disjointed financial articles instead, I don’t know what you want from me but you seem emotional about having no art paper try collaborating with an art paper guy… so you can print more financial things?

        Kinda all over the map. He doesn’t want more people to watch more of his child. He wants not that. The opposite. So logically he should seek to outsource big chores often and optimize the time he gets back, and also adapt other tasks into high-quality cogni-motional bites of nurturing. Like accretion. Or rainfall. Everybody wins.

        1. The average is a reference point. If parents want to feel less guilty working, they can try to at least spend the average amount of time with their kids that other parents spend.

    2. Jeremy, I have to wholeheartedly agree with your breakdown. My day and my SO are basically identical to yours. Our girl (4 years old) is up at 6:30 and down by 8 pm. We just work regular jobs but are still gone from 8 am until 5-5:30pm. 90 percent of the time we are directly with our daughter is cooking/eating food and getting ready for the day and bedtime. The rest of the time our girl is at expensive daycare for 9-9 1/2 hours. It sucks that other people get the best of our girl all day long. The system is designed like this. We both have to work to make ends meet and we are pretty minimalist and have no desire for material things. Weekends are our only time whatsoever for real quality time.

  6. Thank you for writing this. For me, I don’t see there is a one-set standard of how much time you need to spend with a child is sufficient.

    Every child is different and his needs are different.

    I have two girls, 4 and 2 yr old. I am also a stay-at-home dad. My wife also homeschools them and works part-time/flexible hours. We take shifts.

    I notice that my 4 yr old needs more attention and hands-on. This is compared to my 2 yr old, who is more independent and can do things on her own.

    We are looking to send them to school together. This is partly because the older one keeps telling us she wants to go to school.

    If I have to stick with 115 – 150 minutes as the gold standard, then my older child will be very sad and my younger child will be fine.

    Now, I am not saying my older child is bad in any way. They are different and require different attention and support. A child goes through seasons, just like all of us. At a certain point, they will need us more and at other points, we can let go.

    Now, I know every parent wishes all their children are independent the instant they are born so we can continue to work and not get disrupted. Haha, sometimes I wish that too but that’s just not going to happen.

    Btw, I am not saying I am better than parents who work full time + commute + raising kids. It is also very hard. Though I did that before and I would say stay-at-home parents, looking after kids all day long, is harder (that’s just my opinion).

    1. “ If I have to stick with 115 – 150 minutes as the gold standard”

      This is definitely NOT the gold standard, this is the average, which seems low, just like the average or median net worth in America seems low.

      I hope all parents can spend much more time with their kids. Cool you are a stay at home dad.

      What career did you give up at what age and what does your wife do?

      Thx

      Sam

  7. I spend every last possible second of my time with my children and I still only get about 2 hours a day with them (during the week). I leave for work before they wake up (4am) and I don’t get home until 6:30pm. I keep them up as late as I possibly can just to get more time with them but they usually can’t go past 8:30/9:00pm since they wake up early as well (5am when my husband gets ready for work).

    I think you would be surprised how many parents have long commute times (1hr +) – depending on where you are in the country obviously. The vast majority of my coworkers commute a lot longer than 30 minutes – myself (though my commute is egregiously long and definitely NOT the norm). Personally I would kill 30 minute commute.

    Unfortunately I also have a job that requires a lot of prep work at home. I try not to do work at home during the week so I can dedicate my home time to my kids but that means on Sundays I have about 8-10 hours worth of prep work to do. So I get 2 hours 5 days a week, the entire day in Saturdays and less than a 1/2 day on Sundays. Also, quitting work for 3 years is not realistic in the slightest. We need 2 incomes to survive.

  8. First thing, your so called “Typical day for a working parent” doesn’t come close to my days worth of work. I’ll break it down for you:
    5:30-6:30= wake up my son, feed him breakfast, brush his teeth, clothes changed, backpack ready for kindergarten, and be at the sitters house so I can leave for work.
    6:30-7:30= drive time to work
    4:00-5:00= drive time home from work
    5:00-7:00= pick him up from sitters,, feed him dinner, bathed, teeth brushed, and in bed so he and I both get some sleep.
    That being said, the phrase that was used “I am disappointed in how much time men spend with there children since there is 24 hrs in a day,” is a phrase that actually pisses me off the more I think about it!. For a hard working American that has to commute and work his ass off daily, might be something that you or whoever just might want to take into consideration next time. Or at least learn how to word your phrases. Thank you for making a guy feel like that much more of a piece of shit parent. I hope you have a wonderful day!

    1. Hi Justin, why would you feel like shit if you are spending more time with your children than the average person? If you feel like you’re not spending as much time as you like, then spend more time with him on the weekends at least.

      Best to find the root source of your frustration as getting mad at an article online won’t get you anywhere.

      Many people are deciding to no longer put up with long hours or bad bosses I’m the YOLO Economy. Time to make a change if you are unsatisfied with your current situation.

  9. Thanks to COVID my business is destroyed and my industry destroyed. It’s great spending time with your kids but try doing that while trying to figure out how the government is going to shut your industry down next and how best they can offer zero help.

    With no end in sight. Just saying. Love my kids but hard to enjoy 14 hour days when you have zero outlet and no clue what next week month or year will bring.

    1. Sorry to hear. Hang in there. What about applying for PPP round 2?

      Do you not think the end is in sight by end of this year? I’m pretty bullish on a continued recovery.

      Don’t know many people who enjoy the pandemic, so we got to look at the silver linings.

  10. As the self-employed father of two boys (ages 3 and 1), I am doing my best to soak in every minute spent with them.

    They’re typically both up by 7:00am, and both go to bed at 7:00pm. The 1 year old naps for 2-3 hours each day, and the 3 year old stopped napping a couple months ago (a loss of precious work time on one hand, but now I’m able to take my boy skiing / exploring / playing all day instead of having to schedule around his naps).

    All of this to say, an average day has me spending about 600-700 minutes with the toddler and 500-600 minutes with the little guy.

    My wife spends the same amount of time with them. We both wake up at 4:00am to meditate, practice yoga, read, and work before the boys are up. We need that critical time to get into a good mental space. And then we have from 7:00pm – 8:30pm to relax together, finish work if needed, and head to bed.

    The boys thrive outdoors, so we aim for at least 1,500 hours outside each year. This makes a huge difference (for them and for us) compared to being cooped up indoors all day. Those indoor days can feel twice as long.

    Having typed this out, it sounds like a lot. But I wake up every morning filled with so much gratitude that I get to share so much time with my boys. I know not everyone is so lucky, and I know the stats in this blog post aren’t necessarily indicative of how much time parents WANT to spend with their kids. I know I am extremely privileged to be in this position.

    My mantra on the tough days is reminding myself, “there’s no where else I’d rather be, and nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

    As a parent, it can be easy to view time as “my time” vs “kids time” vs “spouse time” vs “chores time” etc… and I believe viewing it that way can put us into a headspace of scarcity and sacrifice, making us feel like we never have any time for ourselves. I certainly felt that way when our second son came along. So I’ve had to work to shift my mindset to remind myself that it is ALL my time. It’s my time with my boys. It’s my time with my wife. It’s my time to be alone. It’s my time to do the dishes. It’s all my time, but it’s entirely up to me to recognize that.

    We’re planning on homeschooling / worldschooling our boys, so these are just the beginning years. But I know that as the years continue, the ratios will change and I’ll have more alone time, more spouse time, and less time keeping our 1 year old from trying to climb in the toilet or our 3 year old from trying to flush him. The daily challenge is to simply appreciate the chapter I’m currently in.

    And on that note, my boys are up and at ‘em. All the best to all of the parents out there who are doing their best.

    1. “So I’ve had to work to shift my mindset to remind myself that it is ALL my time.”

      Excellent mindset shift! Thanks for sharing.

      What is it that you and you wife do for a living?

      1. Thanks, Sam. We’re wedding photographers, so of course the pandemic brought our business to a screeching halt (along with both of our incomes).

        As savings dwindled, we decided to make the most of it and just soak in the time with our kiddos and have a year of reflection, with the mindset and confidence that everything would be okay, even if we didn’t know how at the time.

        In the end, we decided to shift the business model to include coaching and design, with a heavy focus on simply helping others. Ironically, 2020 ended up being our must successful and lucrative year in history.

        Sometimes it seems when you have the least, the best thing you can do is to give. And it always seems to come back to you.

        1. Got it. Pivoting to do coaching and design online sounds smart!

          Yes, when your back is against the wall, good things tend to come out of it. The giving aspect is very rewarding and it helps keep my writing going. If I focused on writing for the money, my production would go down 90%, especially now after 13 years.

          Helping others is like the ultimate battery!

    2. This is the best thing I read and needed this optimistic perspective! The mantra is perfect. Thank you

  11. Really interesting stats! Sam, you should be proud that you spend so much time with your kids. More father interaction is good for children.

    My partner and I are talking about having kids, and where we live he has paid paternity leave. He has said he plans on taking 1-3 months, which would be great for he and our kids’ relationship.

    1. Thanks. Definitely utilize that paid parental leave. That’s something neither my wife or I had. Gosh… that would feel like such gravy, getting paid to take care of our own children!

  12. Someone told me that at the end of life, when you’re on your deathbed, nobody ever looks back and says “if only I had spent more time at the office!”. They also never think, “I regret spending so much time with my kids”.

    I don’t know much. But I know that my kids will grow up quickly and I’ll never regret the time and effort I spent to be a real presence in their lives. As they age, it’s only natural that they’ll develop their own social network, their own activities, their own friends. And I’ll be less and less a part of their lives in that way. So I’m trying to soak up as much of it as I can while they’re at the stage where all they want to do is be around Dad.

  13. Are you “spending time” or just being there with your kid?

    ” You greet him good morning, let him go to the bathroom, change clothes, and feed him breakfast. That’s about an hour right there.” This is NOT “spending time. This is getting his arse out the door by 8am, so he’s not late for school. You have to get to work by 9am, or your horrible boss would whoop your arse. You don’t get out of work until 5pm, pick up by 6pm or daycare is going charge you by the minute. 7pm is dinner time, 8pm is getting already late for shower and sleep by 9pm. You literally only have 1-2hr top to “spending time” with your kid as a typical 9-5 working parent, and you don’t have to OT that is.

    On weekend, i take the kids out on hiking trips or to the park for an hour or 2. That meets my quota of spending time with the kids on the weekend.

    The older they are, the more time they should spend with their peers or siblings, imho.

    1. Very interesting that your definition of legitimate spending time with your kids is playing for 1-2 hours, and the other time is not. If your partner is cool with it, that’s all that matters.

      That be kinda cool if all dads have to do is go to the park or hike for 1-2 hours a day and their “quota” is done. How much time does your partner spend with your kids?

  14. I think I’m a better parent when I have work to anchor me. It also gives me energy to really focus on them when we’re together. I spend 2-4 hours a day with them and more on weekends. I’m grateful to wfh and cut out that commute.

  15. I’ve seen this chart before. It’s from this article which uses a couple of data points to fit these curves, which often suggest ridiculously low amounts of time in earlier years. Still the numbers are low especially considering it includes weekends and children under 5 need a lot of supervision (which is like 40% of the time to 13 y.o) even when playing on their own. Of course, only one parent needs to look after the children at once and so the time the child is with a parent might be the sum of these.

  16. Christine Minasian

    It’s hard as a mother to not feel guilty about something. When you’re a stay at home mom, you feel like you’re not using your brain and your education but love seeing your kids grow. When you’re working, you feel like you’re missing out and having a nanny with your kids all the time. Any comments/advice on these heavy emotions would be appreciated. I know finances play into this decision. But as a SAH mom with an MBA that worked for the 1st 15years, I’m feeling “less than”. Given I just read about the 31 year old Bumble lady who’s a billionaire now!

    1. Ah! But is the Bumble lady founder a mom? Because running a public company is easier than being a FT parent.

      We feel your bind and guilt.

      The best way I am beating the guild is to beat the average time spent with my children by at least 100% the average.

      1. I played w my children. They were lucky to have Mom, as the responsible parent
        Through playing my children learned to play w/o cheating. Not cheating is a big one. They learned losing happens – get on with it. The most significant lesson was the pogo stick. When learning, they fell off. They learned if they wanted to master anything in life they would need to practice , to work at it. Becoming talented at math or the pogo stick takes effort.
        What I am saying is you are a loving parent. I decided the trick is to enjoy your children. Everything will follow.

    2. You are a perfect human being. Like most, you are not a gifted artist, an exceptional athlete, and you will not cure cancer. But, I bet people would like to have you as a friend. I bet people say you “are a nice lady.” And I bet, you have a “good heart.”
      To me, your character is what makes you a perfect human being. I don’t think I would like you more if you had a billion dollars.

  17. “What I’ve come to realize is that the median or average in various facets of life isn’t that high. Therefore, it should be relatively easy to outperform and get ahead if you want to.”

    I’ve come to realize that too over the last 2 years especially. It only takes a little extra effort to really stand out the average. Actually get things done on time, or a little early. Add a little detail to your work. Do something a little extra for someone. Whatever it is, going a little further really puts you ahead of expectations.

  18. We decided to earn like crazy in the early years of our kids lives with the plan of traveling with them full time when they were older. They were both in full time daycare and we also worked quite a few weekends. I had to leave my job last year due to covid and have loved spending time with our kids. We even decided to withdraw our 9 year old from school to homeschool full time. The pandemic has fast forwarded our plans and we’ll be moving onto a sailboat this summer to cruise as a family for the next few years before high school. We would never have been in the financial position to do this if we hadn’t worked, saved and sacrificed in the earlier years of our kids’ lives. Although it would have been great to be around more when they were little, we are really thankful we’re in a position to be focusing on our family during their pre teen years.

    1. No regrets! Sounds like you appreciate working more and having now more money, and that’s great.

      I wish we had kids 3-5 years earlier. But the only thing we can do now is try and live longer.

  19. Due to the pandemic, I am able to spend 6+ hours with my 15 year old son. Before, that would only happen on weekends. He enjoys online schooling a lot more than in person school because I can cook breakfast or lunch for him any time he wants. Also, I can immediately see and explain math problems he did not understand. He finds teachers do not tie him up with busy work anymore. They lecture, give a few examples, then let the students leave, therefore he often gets generous breaks between high school classes. This leaves time for exercise breaks and chatting about news and stocks with me. Both he and his sister’s grades have risen during the pandemic possibly due to having more control of their own time and less social distractions. I do not know whether to believe your data or not, but if it is correct, I have been an outlier their whole lives, spending much more time than average with them. It would be interesting to see the same data for Asian countries.

    1. Much respect to you. Spending more than six hours a day is a lot! And it is also great that your son is willing to spend more than six hours a day with you at the age of 15.

      I spent from 7:45 AM until 2 PM today with my kids, and then another half an hour in the afternoon before I went to play tennis, and then another one and a half hours. I’m totally exhausted.

      I can’t imagine having to than spend another 8+ hours working. I did do a couple hours of riding from 5:30 AM until 7:30 AM go send out the newsletter. And today really was pushed to the Max.

      So much patience is required to take care of a 3 1/2 year-old. I hope to build your type of endurance one day. And I have my son will be willing to play with me at least half as many hours.

      Does your son have a mother? If so, is she working full-time as well?

  20. I think the “working parent” time is pretty accurate. We have two (soon to be three) kids. From 7-8ish I get them ready and make breakfast (1 hr). After work, it’s a couple more hours before they go to bed (2.5 hrs). During the day it’s nearly 4 hours – and most of weekends are spent as a family which often exceed the ~4 hour/day average.

    I’d love to hear a few anecdotal perspectives from the readers though.

    I’m not sure how those statistics are calculated but it seems very low (and I question it’s reliability which is why I’m curious about other readers’ lifestyles).

    Few data points: I work, wife stays at home. Kids are 2 and 3 years old.

  21. Wow. This really should make any parents who prioritize their kids feel much better. I am doing around 7 hours a day, and that is hard enough with two little kids during the pandemic, but hopefully for their long term benefit.

  22. Wow I’m surprised by that data too. Seems like parents are working too many hours based on those numbers. Yet the data is really low across Europe too where people supposedly have better work life balances.

    Thanks to covid, I’m sure a lot of parents have spent more time with their children with so many schools still closed. It’s not easy to work from home and help kids with distance learning. One thing is for sure – childcare workers and teachers deserve a lot of respect and gratitude for the time and effort they provide taking care of kids all over the world!

    1. Canadian Reader

      We are very fortunate to be able to spend our days together as a family. It worked out that we are having our kids later in the life cycle, so up until that time came we worked like dogs and saved up for the hopeful eventuality.
      Our time and tasks with our daughter aren’t specifically delineated, although I tend to do bath time with her as she is getting bigger.
      The day usually starts with my husband getting up with her at 7:00. I get up around the same time or a bit later (because I’m having sleeping issues in the third trimester of pregnancy). Husband is at the kitchen table on his computer while the market is open 6am-1pm. He usually makes breakfast. Even though he is working, he’s pretty available to help out with whatever. Nap time is from 9:30-11:30. Then it’s lunch time- I usually prepare. We have an outing from 13:00-15:00. Typically a walk outside in a park. Daughter naps again from 15:00-17:00. We have dinner together and then we read stories/ play time/ FaceTime family until she goes to bed at 20:00.
      I feel super grateful things have panned out this way for us, so we can spend all this time with her during her early years.

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