Sharing leisure experiences is thought to promote family bonding and communication, and foster children’s intellectual, social and psychological development. Such time is ‘purposive’, and requires planning, organisation and maintenance, usually from the mother. Do parents and children spend more time in shared leisure together in countries where mothers do more childcare and spend longer each day with children? Using time use data we compare shared parent–child shared leisure time in four countries with different maternal work–force participation and attitudes to substitute childcare and child-raising: USA, Australia, Denmark and France. We create harmonised measures of leisure time mothers are with children, and time both parents are with children engaging in leisure in the same location (except in the USA, which has information from only one parent). To isolate shared interactive activities, time is further subdivided into (a) watching TV, DVDs or videos with children, (b) non-TV leisure time with children and (c) leisure time with children outside the family home. We find that overall time with children varies substantially between countries, reflecting mothers’ average time in paid work, but time in shared parent–child leisure, particularly outside the family home, does not.