Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Working mums doing without sleep for extra time with kids

Mothers working full-time spend around four hours less per day with their young children than mothers who are not employed, according to Australia’s first longitudinal national study examining the lives of Australian children.

Growing up in Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children reveals working mums are sacrificing leisure and sleep to ensure they spend time with their children.

Employed mothers are spending more time with children at the beginning and end of the day than non-working mums at the expense of their own activities.

Mothers in full-time employment spend 3.7 hours less with their infants and 3.9 hours less with their young children than mothers not employed.

The bond formed with children in their early years is extremely important and it is a challenge for working parents to preserve quality time in this special period.

This and many other issues affecting the return of parents to work after the birth of a child will be an important part of the discussion at the Australian Institute of Family Studies conference starting in Melbourne today.

Such evidence on the behaviour and needs of mothers and young children will provide valuable input to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into paid maternity, paternity and parental leave.

The Commission, due to report by February 2009, has received over 200 submissions. It will issue a draft report in September this year and people will be able to comment on it and make further submissions in late November 2008.

Growing up in Australia is the first comprehensive national study of Australian children over time. It began in 2004 with more than 10,000 children and families agreeing to take part.

The Rudd Government is committed to a child-centred approach to family policy and building a modern Australia that supports working families.

The full report can be viewed at the Australian Institute of Family Studies website (