IT'S generation Y's dirty little secret. They might be working, studying and roaming the globe but it's mum who still picks up their grotty socks and puts a hot meal on the table.
The division of domestic labour in Australian households with adult children in residence has been examined for the first time and the results are not pretty.
Researchers from the University of NSW found that mothers do roughly six times more housework than their adult sons, 4.4 times times more than their grown up daughters and about twice as much as the father in the house.
The author of the research, Associate Professor Lyn Craig of the university's Social Policy Research Centre, wanted to call her study ''Does it Ever End?'' to reflect the experiences of Australian mothers.
''You might think as the children get older they would make a more equal contribution to housework, cleaning, cooking and washing, but it's really not the case,'' she said.
''It does seem to be a sticky problem. You would hope for more signs of change which are sadly not really there.''
The research, to be presented at the Australian Women and Gender Studies Association Biennial Conference at the university on Friday, analysed the housework habits of 5512 young people aged 15-34 years living in the family home, using Bureau of Statistics data.
It found that 97 per cent of mothers did some domestic work every day, compared to 81 per cent of fathers, 73 per cent of young women and 54 per cent of young men.
Mothers do 229 minutes of domestic work each day, compared with 111 minutes for fathers, 52 minutes for young women and 38 minutes for young men.
While one in four people aged 20-34 opt to live in the parental home, they are not necessarily becoming less of a burden on their parents, the study found.
''It's difficult to change roles within the family home,'' Professor Craig said.
''If mum has always done the laundry and dad has always mowed the lawn, there is an expectation that that will continue even when the adult children are old enough to do it themselves. The expectations don't really shift even though the children are old enough to live independently.''
Dr Jennifer Baxter, senior research fellow with the Australian Institute of Family Studies said inequitable division of housework could be a source of tension in some families.
Jess Kirkby, 24, still lives in the family home at Belrose.
''I take responsibility for things which directly affect me like my washing and tidying my bedroom,'' she said. ''But the general housework is still very much my parents' domain.''