DESIGN THOUGHT PIECE | BY JESSICA GATES
MODERN FAMILIES AND THE BIG FLIP – HOUSEWORK
We’ve come across many interesting statistics working on The Big Flip. If men do more housework, does it really lead them to have less sex? Statistics show men are more involved in the home than ever before, contributing nearly three times more to childcare now than in 1965. Although dads are pitching in, housework continues to be a major sticking point for families.
At The Big Flip we are working to uncover the stories behind the statistics and helping to make life better. As the number of stay-at-home dads continues to rise, can home care products be redesigned for the distinctive way men prefer to take care of children and the home?
HOW MEN AND WOMEN APPROACH PARENTING DIFFERENTLY
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal men are redefining the role of the stay-at-home dad and putting a unique masculine twist on childcare. While moms may feel pressure to maintain a Martha level of clean, Big Flip dads are forging their own way.
“At-home dads aren’t trying to be perfect moms," says a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Instead, they take pride in letting their children take more risks on the playground, compared with their spouses. They tend to jettison daily routines in favor of spontaneous adventures with the kids. And many use technology or DIY skills to squeeze household budgets, or find shortcuts through projects and chores”.
Many home products are missing the mark with how dads like to take care of the house. Is there a design opportunity more inspiring for stay-at-home dads and one that kids can get excited about as well?
METHOD FOR MEN – THE COMBINATION OF CHORES AND PLAY
(Photo Credit – Method Laundry Wizard Advertisment)
Much of Method’s success, the hip household cleaning company, can be credited to their ranks of loyal female fans. Women appreciate the minty smells, green reassurance and fun packaging over the standard chemical experience. For a busy mom in need of escape, the company made cleaning the shower more of a spa like experience. Is there a way to entice dads similar to how Method lured moms?
Perhaps a solution lies in the combination of housework and play, to get dads (and kids too) more enthusiastic on tidying up? One dad we interviewed for The Big Flip suggested making laundry detergent into more of a mad science experiment. Would making home products more game-like work, like an off-roading Roomba that could drive like an electronic race car? Until robots finally rescue us from this conflict, there is a big business opportunity waiting to be solved.
UNIQUE CHALLENGES FACED BY MOMS AND DADS
Men and women face different obstacles in their new roles. From our interviews with moms, their biggest anxiety has been over the “missed moments” they face while being away from their family at work (check out TBF article on combining wearable tech and biomimicry to keep moms in the loop). Dads face many of the same problems today that housewives experienced in the 1950’s–mostly isolation and boredom.
As gender roles change, business and designers need to take a deeper look into who is actually using their products. Making men feel more welcome in the role as stay-at-home dads will not only help fathers, but moms too. Ultimately solving problems for stay-at-home dads could inspire innovative products and services for many new parents and families. Understanding the differences in how men and women parent can be leveraged for mutual success.