This Just In! The Most Exhausted Parents Are...

Stay-at-home moms are the most tired parents, but also the happiest, according to a new report

It’s a dirty little secret of working moms. On Sunday nights after the kids are in bed, we collapse on the couch, filled to the brim with soul-satisfying family time. But there's something else too: total relief that we don't have to do it again tomorrow. In just a few hours you get to escape to a calm, clean place where people always use their words, everyone wipes their own butt, and we can actually drink a cup of coffee while it’s still hot. That brief slice of Monday morning where you're kid-free but people are just trickling into the office feels like a mini vacation. Yes, Thank-God-It's-Monday is a real thing.

A new Pew Research Center analysis confirms what many moms already know: the work of parenting is way more exhausting than work work. Analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2010 "Well-Being Module" of the American Time Use Survey, Pew found that parents rate 12 percent of childcare tasks "very tiring," but only 5 percent of paid work-related responsibilities as such. Childcare is even more taxing than housework, with 7 percent of household chores classified as the most tiresome.

Sometimes the toughest work yields the best rewards, and that’s often true with kids. Parents said 35 percent of childcare activities made them "very happy," but only 19 percent of work tasks did so. Parents also rated 62 percent of their childcare experiences as "very meaningful," compared with 36 percent of paid job-related activities. And as energy-sucking as spending time with kids is, it’s not stressful compared to a job. Parents said they felt "not stressed at all" in about 52 percent of kid-related responsibilities but only felt the same about 20 percent of job activities.

Responses also showed an interesting gender divide. While 15 percent of moms said they felt "very tired" by childcare activities, only 6 percent of dads did. At the same time, 37 percent of moms reported that childcare was made up of "very happy" moments, only 29 percent of dads felt the same way.  

Mom of two Sasha Emmons is a writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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