Motherhood had never been

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Motherhood had never been “on my radar as a feminist issue,” Phillipa Bennett said, but when she had a baby, she felt pressure and expectations almost straight away. She is pictured with her children Eleni, left, and Noah.

Staying home with sick children, being the contact person for Plunket checks and keeping the house clean: Phillipa Bennett wants to know who is in charge of these tasks.

In fact, the former Taupō-based youth development worker – and mother of two children under five – is looking for 15 active heterosexual couples with young children for a study to understand why different things are expected of mums. and dads.

“Although I’ve called myself a feminist since I was a kid, motherhood never came on my radar as a feminist issue,” she said.

“And although my husband was very supportive of my career and shared the chores with the kids, there was something about having a baby that totally changed everything.”

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Bennett wants to know about the division of tasks like housework and childcare — and how we 'culturally think' heterosexual working couples with children should share them (file photo)

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Bennett wants to know about the division of tasks like housework and childcare — and how we ‘culturally think’ heterosexual working couples with children should share them (file photo)

Bennett said she felt the pressure and expectation of juggling work and childcare almost straight away, not just at home but from society at large, and that she had to be the one who took time off and stayed home with a sick child, and always be the contact person for things like Plunket and checkups.

“I started reading and asking others about their experiences and the more I delved into the issue, the more I realized I was not alone.

“I wanted to understand why we expect different things from mums and dads and how we could change things so that dads not only take on more responsibility at home, but also have a real chance to be part of routines and care. whānau, especially when babies are small.

Bennett is now almost halfway through a doctorate in design at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Design Innovation and hopes her research will help clarify why couples still divide their private lives in this way, “as well as really concrete and useful designs to find ways to change gender norms so that all parents can decide how they would like to present themselves for their whānau”.

“We know dads want to be more involved in the home, but they have a very low take-up rate on paid parental leave, cutting back on working hours so they can also help with caregiving, or even be a stay-at-home dad. .

“I’m looking to learn more about how gender norms currently limit these viable options for dads.”

It's not only about dads taking on more responsibility at home, but also about having

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It’s not only about dads taking on more responsibility at home, but also having “a real chance to be part of whānau routines and care,” Bennett said (file photo).

The study would only take about four hours of a couple’s time over two or three months, during which they would share their experiences and beliefs about gender, unpaid care and work through an online survey and interactive interview.

“Then, finally, we come together as a group to review what we have discovered about how we at Aotearoa see how we culturally believe that heterosexual working couples with children should share household chores and childcare, and where are the areas we can change things to improve for women in terms of reducing their workload at home, but also for men so they can spend more time with their families.

Bennett is looking for heterosexual couples who both work part-time or full-time and have at least one child under the age of three to share their beliefs and experiences with childcare and household chores.

As an added incentive, each couple will receive $200 Pak’n Save vouchers.

Couples wishing to take part or wanting more information should email [email protected] or call 022 030 4773.