US Parents 2020

Facing Plenty of Stress, With or Without a Pandemic

Executive Summary

Sure, the pandemic has made life tougher for lots of parents. But many were struggling before the coronavirus arrived and will still be struggling after it goes away. Marketers hoping to connect with parents must proceed from a realistic picture of the stresses that modern-day parenting entails.

How big a deal is work/life balance for parents?

Very big, especially with a large majority of mothers (and larger majority of fathers) in the workforce. Many mothers see their careers stalled by parenthood. Working at home while caring for kids hasn’t been easy during the pandemic. The high cost of childcare drives some parents (usually mothers) out of the workforce.

Have today’s fathers taken on more of the burden of childcare and housework?

Often more than their own fathers did, but less than they think they do—and typically much less than mothers still do, even in households where both are working. That’s one reason why many mothers don’t make adequate time for self-care. And the “momcation” isn’t an option for most mothers.

Is kids’ screen time still a point of contention for parents?

It is, though many parents have been willing to use screens as a babysitter when the pandemic has had everyone stuck at home. One problem is that kids tend to get smartphones and social media accounts at a younger age than parents would prefer.

Are single parents a major part of the parenting mix?

Absolutely. Census data shows single-parent households accounting for nearly three in 10 households with kids. While the number of single fathers has risen, most single parents still are single mothers. And while some are thriving, many single mothers struggle financially.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? Modern-day parenting was tough enough before a pandemic came along to make it tougher. This report looks at major sources of stress faced by mothers and fathers these days, ranging from work/life balance to kids’ screen time to division of labor in the household.

KEY STAT: Tricky enough in the best of circumstances, work/life balance has become that much harder during the pandemic for parents working at home while caring for their kids.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Tough Times, Pre- and Post-Pandemic
  3. Parents at Work (and Work and Work)
  4. Coping with the Cost of Childcare
  5. More Screen-Time Struggles
  1. Dividing the Domestic Workload
  2. A Deficit in Self-Care
  3. Old Stress and New Stress, from Education to Finances
  4. It’s Hard Being a Solo Parent
  5. Key Takeaways
  1. eMarketer Interviews
  2. Read Next
  3. Sources
  4. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Andrew Burmon
Chief Content Officer
Interviewed June 3, 2020
Melissa DeCesare
Edison Research
Vice President
Interviewed May 29, 2020
Brian Heilman
Senior Research Officer
Interviewed June 4, 2020
Virginia Lennon
Ipsos Media Development
Senior Vice President
Interviewed June 2, 2020
Michael Rothman
Co-Founder, CEO
Interviewed June 3, 2020
Liz Tenety
Co-Founder, Chief Digital Officer
Interviewed June 2, 2020
Anna Yudina
The Toy Association
Director, Marketing Initiatives
Interviewed June 3, 2020

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Mark Dolliver


Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Andrew Lipsman
Principal Analyst
Jennifer Pearson
VP, Research
Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst

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