And the research also found a downside to the switch of childcare duties from women to men, with almost one in five stay-at-home fathers saying that their role makes them feel ‘less of a man’, while around one in eight admitted that looking after children is harder than holding down a job. The same number wish they could earn more so they could be the one to go out to work.
The collapse of the gender pay gap – women under 30 now earn more than men and older women are usually only paid less if they take time off to bring up families – means mothers are highly likely to have fatter pay packets than fathers.
And while women are now able to be the family breadwinner, a third of mothers feel guilty about going out to work and leaving the children.
A further one in five complain that they are really doing two jobs because they have to look after the home when they get back from work, and one in ten say the division of household chores causes marital discord.
Around two out of three mothers of young children have jobs, encouraged by family-friendly and flexible working laws and the need for many families to have two incomes in order to pay mortgages and meet the bills.
The survey of 2,000 families with children, carried out for insurer Aviva, said 14% of families with children have a father with the main responsibility for looking after the children.
Just over one in four fathers gave up work or cut their hours after their children were born. Some 44% look after their children regularly while their wife or partner is at work. There was strong evidence that many women would prefer to stay at home themselves if the family economics were different.
In the past surveys have repeatedly found that three quarters of working mothers would prefer to stay at home. This one showed just 15% per cent of mothers said they felt lucky to be able to go out to work while their husband looked after the children.