Raising Kids Can Make You Happy, Study Shows

Pew releases first study to analyze parents' emotions.

Greg kisses the cheek of son Lewis as Gina Bouchie holds him at their home in Manitoba, Canada, Feb. 13, 2013.
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Most parents would agree that while children are "bundles of joy" they can also be bundles of energy, leaving parents exhausted.

A new study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center has discovered compelling new information about mothers and fathers true feelings about taking care of their children.

Thanks to data from 2010 time-use diaries gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pew was able to analyze the emotional state of parents while they performed four different activities: leisure, housework, child care, and paid work. And though there have been surveys on ratio of time spent doing these activities before, this is the first time surveys included questions about how parents felt about these duties the Washington Post reports.

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"We know a lot about how parents' roles have changed and how today both moms and dads balance work and family, but what we don't know is how they feel during various activities. This data set answers that question and gives us a very accurate recording of exactly how they feel," Wendy Wang, the Pew report's author, told USA Today.

The study determined that though mothers feel more exhausted than fathers in all the major categories of life, they were also happier than fathers. Only 29 percent child care activities were "very happy" for fathers, while 37 percent of child care activities for moms were "very happy."

Wang told the Washington Post that the greatest margin of difference was found in the amount of exhaustion felt by mothers versus fathers.

"And when you look at what mothers and fathers are actually doing, it shows why: Mothers spend much more time than fathers doing physical care — feeding the baby, giving baths. They do more managerial and educational care, all of which requires a lot of energy. Only when it comes to playing with kids do fathers do almost the same amount as mothers," Wang said.

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The study also found that parents said 62 percent of their child care experience was "very meaningful," leaving a stark contrast with 43 percent of housework and 36 percent of paid work they said was meaningful.

And though raising children and the stress it takes on parents is a common complaint, the Pew study found child care to be the least stressful out of all the activities the parents did. Parents said that only 3 percent of child care to be "very stressful," while housework and paid work was 5 percent stressful. Parents even ranked leisure to be more stressful than child care saying that 4 percent of free time was stressful.

The next contrast Wang wants to look at is to look more closely at the feeling of working parents versus stay at home parents.

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