Battle of the sexes - mums still bearing the brunt of childcare

  • Two thirds of mums still take on the majority of childcare duties
  • 41 per cent of parents don’t think dads are held to the same standards as mums
  • Dads get one extra ‘free pass’ to go out than mums every month

New research from Direct Line Life Insurance1 reveals that despite 83 per cent of parents believing societal attitudes towards childcare have changed since they were a child, two thirds (64 per cent) of mums are still the primary carer for their children, compared to just a third (36 per cent) of dads. This is despite workplaces becoming increasingly family friendly, offering flexible working hours, the option to work from home and shared maternity/paternity leave. 

It also looks like there is a long way to go until men and women are viewed as equals when it comes to raising children, as two fifths (41 per cent) of parents don’t think dads are held to the same standards by society as mums. Mums are also treated differently when it comes to praise, with 12 per cent of mums never being praised for looking after their children, compared to just four per cent of men.

The findings also show that fathers have more ‘free passes’ than mothers, with dads enjoying one more time away each month without their children than mums. On average, men go out five times a month without their children, compared to women at only four times. Many parents also find themselves sacrificing or choosing to give up their social life entirely when they have children; one in twelve (eight per cent) parents do not go out without their children. 

Jane Morgan, Business Manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “Whilst how we view childcare may be changing, the research shows there are still a few differences between the sexes, with the responsibility of looking after the children being different in every household across the country.  There are many competing pressures as a parent and time can feel like an incredibly precious commodity.”

When it comes to the little things that annoy parents across the UK, people who refer to their children as ‘annoying brats’ tops the list, with nearly a third (30 per cent) of parents finding it offensive. This is followed by children who use a parent’s first name rather than calling them mum or dad (28 per cent) and people who describe their own children as their ‘partner’s kids’ (22 per cent). 

Another huge bugbear for parents is when people use the term “babysitting” to describe looking after their own children. One in five (20 per cent) parents find it distasteful when they hear someone say they “babysit” their own children, with mums (26 per cent) far more riled up than dads (14 per cent). However, that may not be surprising as one in eleven (nine per cent) dads happily admit to using the term “babysitting” to describe their own children, compared to just two per cent of mums.

The research also showed there are other significant differences between the sexes, with a quarter (25 per cent) of women using the term ‘my’ rather ‘our’ to describe their children, compared to just 13 per cent of men. 

Morgan continues: “Planning for your financial future can appear intimidating and it's easy to put off especially when thinking about life insurance or critical illness cover, but some things aren’t as mind boggling or time consuming as you might think. You can get a quote for life insurance including critical illness cover from Direct Line in as little as three minutes.”

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Notes to Editors

Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,011 adults between 24th to 26th March 2018

For further information please contact

Claire Jarrett

Media Relations Executive

Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 832 411

Email: [email protected]

Katie Ormrod

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

Tel: 0207 282 1023

Email: [email protected]

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel, pet and life insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line life insurance policies are underwritten by Legal & General, registered office: One Coleman Street, London EC2R 5AA. Legal & General Assurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under number 117659. You can check the FCA register at or call the FCA on 0800 111 6768. Legal & General will introduce customers who select the Funeral Benefit Option to Dignity Funeral Services, who are members of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0800 145 5522 or visiting