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Publication #FAR5047

Double Day Work: How Women Cope with Time Demands1

Suzanna Smith and Diana Converse2

Figure 1. 
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In the last 30 years women have entered the work force in record numbers, yet even as they have taken on employment outside the home, their household duties have usually remained the same. Several expressions have been coined to describe this double duty—double day, second shift, or double burden (Beaujot & Liu, 2005; Berk, 1985; Hoschchild, 1990). Men and women do seem to be sharing tasks more, especially when they both work outside the home and have young children (Beaujot & Liu, 2005; Baxter, Hewitt, & Western, 2005). However, across all families, women still carry out most of the unpaid work, including housework and household management, child care, and elder care (Baxter, Hewitt, & Western, 2005; Lee & Waite, 2005; Shelton, 1996), putting in anywhere from 5 to 13 hours more per week than men on these activities (Lee & Waite, 2005).

As women face the demands of combining work and family, they develop strategies for organizing their lives and accomplishing many tasks (Shriner, n.d.). For example, while paid employment takes priority in scheduling time, women do negotiate with their employers and adapt their work hours when necessary to make themselves available for their families.

Working mothers often use weekends to catch up on household chores from the previous week and prepare for the coming week. Sometimes they lower their expectations of what absolutely must be done and reduce their housework so they can spend free time with their families, and they ask their partners and children to share with the load. Double day work provides many time management challenges for women. However, by using various strategies, women can successfully meet the demands of their busy lives.

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Baxter, J., Hewitt, B., & Western, M. (2005). Post-familial families and the domestic division of labor. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 36(4), 583-600.

Beaujot, R. & Liu, J. (2005). Models of time use in paid and unpaid work. Journal of Family Issues, 26, 924-946.

Berk, S. (1985). The gender factory: The apportionment of work in American households. New York: Plenum Press.

Hochschild, A. R. (1989). The second shift. New York: Avon Books.

Lee, Y-S. & Waite, L. (2005). Husbands' and wives' time spent in housework: A comparison of measure. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 328-336.

MacDonald, M., Phipps, S. & Lethbridge, L. (2005). Feminist Economics, 11, 63-94.



This document is FAR5047, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 300 and published February 2009. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and executive producer, Family Album Radio; Diana Converse, Extension agent III and Family LIfe Educator, Hillsborough County, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.