Background Raising children with severe or profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) is expected to put extreme pressure on parental time use patterns. The aim of this study was to examine the total time use of mothers and fathers raising children with PIMD and compare it with the time use of parents of typically developing children.
Method Twenty-seven fathers and 30 mothers raising children with PIMD completed a time use diary on a mobile phone or tablet app, as did 66 fathers and 109 mothers of typically developing children. Independent t-tests and Mann-Whitney tests were performed to compare mean time use.
Results There are no differences in the time use of parents of children with PIMD on contracted time (paid work and educational activities) and necessary time (personal care, eating and drinking and sleeping) when compared with parents of typically developing children. There are significant differences between the parents of children with PIMD and the parents of typically developing children in terms of committed time (time for domestic work and the care and supervision of their children) and free time. The mothers of children with PIMD spend significantly less time on domestic work and more time on care and supervision than mothers of typically developing children.
Conclusions This study shows that the parents of children with PIMD have to spend a significant amount of time on care tasks and have on average 1.5 h less free time per day than parents of typically developing children. This is a striking difference, because leisure time can substantially contribute to well-being. Therefore, it is important not only to consider a child with PIMD's support needs but also to identify what parents need to continue their children's daily care and supervision.