To examine how the time parents spent with their children changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using nationally representative time-diary data from the American Time Use Survey, parents’ time spent in and location of enriching (direct) and secondary (supervisory) childcare among a sample with at one child under 6 years (N = 2,862) and 6–12 years of age (N = 3,595) from May 2020 to December 2021 were compared to January 2019 to March 2020.
Parents’ time in secondary childcare at home increased substantially. Parents with children under age 6 increased their enriching childcare time, driven by mothers. Low-income parents with children aged 6–12 showed a decrease in enriching time with children, whereas higher-income parents with school-age children showed an increase.
Conclusions for Practice
Parents’ time in supervisory childcare increased substantially, and gender and income disparities in enriching time spent engaged with children grew. Examining parent-child time use patterns is important to understand the pandemic’s effects and can provide insight on how best to support children and families during the recovery.