As today is International Women’s Day - lots of love to all you lovely ladies out there - and Mothers Day is this Sunday, I thought how better to celebrate it than explore how motherhood has changed over the last 50 years. Not that I was around personally, to compare today’s motherhood to that of the 60’s, but I heard a lot about it from my mother and grandmothers. And from what I’ve heard, it’s changed dramatically. Rules seemed stricter and in some ways, families seemed to have closer relationships. We’ve all heard, and even said ourselves, the phrase “In the good old days”, with everybody comparing today’s parenting and childhood to that of their own.
As well as advances in technology, health and safety, the pressure of being a Mum today seems to have increased. 70% of mums today believe it is harder to be a mum today than it was 50 years ago - so give yourself a big pat on the back Mumma!
Let’s look at how being a Mum has changed over the last 50 years....
Today, it’s not unusual for a Mum to be the main breadwinner or work full-time, relying on child care. In the 60’s, Mums were likely to stay at home with the children, although the majority of their time was spent being a “housewife”.
Even though mums today are working more, they are actually spending more quality time with their children. This is due to them appreciating the time that they do have at home with them, more than if they were to spend most of the day with them - where they’d find themselves doing cooking or housework.
The “breast is best” phrase has been drummed into our heads over the last ten years, meaning mums almost feel as if they are going against the grain if they don’t. Less than 30% of babies were breast-fed in the 60’s, compared to over 75% today. The reason for the small percentage of breast-fed babies in the 60’s was due to formula being seen as the healthier option and being linked to upper-class families.
It’s bad enough today (still!), but if you were a Mum breast-feeding in public 50 years ago, you’d have holes burnt in to you from people staring.
Picture a pregnant woman drinking or smoking. If like me you feel angry and an overpowering feeling of protection for that unborn baby fills you, then that’s a pretty normal reaction for today. But back in the 60’s, it was normal for pregnant women to smoke and drink. There’s been a lot more research since then, that identifies and highlights the potential side-effects of doing this to your unborn child.
As well as a lot of things not being known back then, that we know now, mums today have their good old, reliable friend Google to ask questions to should they need answers to pregnancy or child-related queries. But this can result in information overload. By googling the symptoms of something as simple and common as teething, you could be panicking, thanks to Google, that it’s something far worse.
50 years ago, personal computers didn’t exist, let alone the internet, so mums would either visit a doctor or ask friends and family about their personal experiences.
Even when I was a child, in the 90’s, I remember being able to walk around the local village and play on the streets. My parents didn’t always know where I was, but that was ok. That was the same of the 60’s. Nowadays, it’s a whole different story.
The reality is that we know a whole lot more about the world and the kind of people that are in it. Thanks to mobile phones, it’s a lot easier to keep track of where our children are at all times.
I’ve even read about parents micro-chipping, like a dog, their children. Not sure how much I agree with this though!
Personally, I think I prefer being a Mum today. There’s so many choices out there, for mums, children and families that you can make motherhood what you like. There’s always going to be pros and cons for both, but from what I’ve heard and read, with technology and healthcare the way it is today, it’s definitely a winner for me!