MIAMI — Lily Pabian and her husband Jeff learned to tag-team household tasks when he lost his job and she went from stay-at-home mom to part-time consultant.
But the give-and-take turned into a juggling act when Jeff found work again three months later.
Lily, a 37-year-old mother of three from Mapleton, Ga., kept working, but also kept most of the parenting responsibilities and housework. And experts say her experience will probably be typical as more women are finding themselves becoming primary breadwinners temporarily.
“I feel like there are days where I am drowning,” Lily Pabian said. “We do fight about my overload, my work load, and he’s willing to say ‘What can I do to help?’ My thing is ‘Why do I have to think for you?'”
An estimated 2 million wives are now the sole breadwinners in families across America as more men than women have been laid off in this recession, according to the Center for American Progress.
Experts say that unemployed husbands are probably taking on more of the housework and childcare duties — for now. But they don’t expect that temporary change at home to create household habits that will stick around after men find work again.
“When men make more money they can buy out of housework in a way women cannot,” said Constance Gager, a sociologist in the Department of Family and Child Studies at Montclair State University.