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to ask how most of our mothers coped?

(588 Posts)
ItalianScallion Sun 21-May-17 23:17:04

I was born in the 70's. My mother was a SAHM and there were three of us kids. My father worked night shifts.

The youngest of us was born when I was four and the oldest was 7. My mother got us up, took us to school, took us to after school activities and sports whilst maintaining a ridiculously clean home, and doing all the laundry etc with no help or family support.

My DH has a similar upbringing except his mother and father were living abroad and travelled to several different countries to live because of the nature of FIL's work. My MIL worked nights and so they would literally hand over the kids to each other as one came home and the other went to work.

I feel that we were all raised pretty decently and I have a huge amount of respect for my parents and PIL.

Which brings me to my AIBU to think that we are getting softer? My mother and MIL shake their heads in disbelief when they hear of mothers who SAHM, have a nanny/au pair and a weekly cleaner and still talk about how they're not coping.

Don't get me wrong, parenting is a hard job but it seems that popular parenting ideas and methods are allowing us to make rods for our own backs.

Please understand I'm not referring to women with PND or any MH issues. This is MN so I know I'll be flamed by people with their anecdotes of difficult babies and their specific struggles, and I agree that there will always be exceptions to the rule. Still, I can't help but feel that we don't 'just get on with it' the way our mothers did.

annandale Sun 21-May-17 23:21:47

I agree to a large extent. However,my mother smoved 40 a day throughout the 60s with three kids which must have helped grin When I realised mum only had a washing machine after her second child was outhe of nappies that brought it home. She pointed out that they did use a laundry service for some things (quite posh).

Crowdblundering Sun 21-May-17 23:22:58

I had no choice to get on with it when I found myself single with 3 under 5s grin

CocoLoco87 Sun 21-May-17 23:24:12

Had this exact conversation this week with a friend! Baffles me how my DM and MIL did it all!

BandeauSally Sun 21-May-17 23:25:16

Ugh! Another sneery thread.

ItalianScallion Sun 21-May-17 23:25:34

Coco, because they didn't have a choice! I tell them both all the time that I take my hat off to them.

ItalianScallion Sun 21-May-17 23:26:26

Crowd, I bow down!

OhHolyFuck Sun 21-May-17 23:26:29

My mother didn't work, had a 10 year gap between children, we had a cleaner and sent the ironing out, she had full use of my dad's bank card and had a car

I'm a lp, have a 2 year gap between children, work full time, don't have a cleaner and don't drive...I don't think my mother had it harder!

HerRoyalFattyness Sun 21-May-17 23:26:38

Well they didn't really have a choice but to cope did They?
When you're left with no choice you just suck it up and get on with it.

LouHotel Sun 21-May-17 23:26:55

I think you cant miss what you dont have. I would struggle to keep on top of washing without a tumble dryer but if it broke i would adapt.

Xmasbaby11 Sun 21-May-17 23:27:29

Dm was a sahm to me and my older brother in the 70s, in a tiny village that had a playgroup once a month. No cat. No TV. No local family. I think a lot of families in the village had sahm then so lots of company. I don't know how she didn't go mad though!

Lillieslamb Sun 21-May-17 23:28:26

I'm a sahm and we live near no family to help, I also do everything myself (no cleaner, meals from scratch etc). So do most of the mums I know (some work part time) as I live near an raf base. So I must admit that these 'popular parenting ideas' feel a world away from me!

As much as I love my role, it can be hard though so I really don't judge anyone that has extra help.

Fruitboxjury Sun 21-May-17 23:28:30

I think there were a lot less distractions (especially from technology) which meant on balance they used their time better and crucially probably had better quality downtime.

My mum had the radio or a book to distract her and other than that she was focused on what she was doing.

I don't think our time has changed as a definition of how busy we are beacuse advances in technology have helped speeed up many jobs compared to time our mothers spent on things, but instead of using that time well, we often lose a lot more of it than we mean to being absorbed in technology.

Speaking for myselfgrin

expatinscotland Sun 21-May-17 23:28:53

YABU. Let's all race to the bottom, you whingebags! 'Back in my day, we didn't have . . . (insert what you want) and we lived.' 'That's nice. No one had one because they didn't exist!' My dad laughs at people who tutt and shake their heads, 'Back in my day .. . ' He grew up poor and having to work even as a child and hand over money to keep the family going. He said it sucked and he's glad things have moved on and it's not 1940 anymore.

BandeauSally Sun 21-May-17 23:28:55

Fwiw I'm a lone parent working mum of two (one with SEN) and my own MH issues and I don't have nannies or cleaners. I just get on with it as well because I also have no choice. It's really not that baffling and it's really not that rare or confined to the 1970's. hmm

corythatwas Sun 21-May-17 23:29:15

Isn't it simply that you happen to know richer people now than your parents were when you were little?

My parents had a nanny in the 60s. Otoh I know plenty of families now where the parents have to work shifts because they can't afford childcare. I certainly don't know many people who can afford a cleaner- though come to think of it, I know several people who work as cleaners.

I also remember my mum lamenting the days of her childhood when "everybody had a servant". To which my dad muttered "the people I knew were the servants".

It's all about what circles you move in.

kissmethere Sun 21-May-17 23:29:45

I often think that too. I feel so guilty when I complain when things feel like drudgery. Me with machines doing the washing, drying, washing dishes etc.
My parents and grandparents had huge families, lots of babies and worked their arses off.

YesItsMeIDontCare Sun 21-May-17 23:29:54

To be honest my mum did it with PND - untreated and probably not even recognised in those days.

I don't know if we're "softer" now, but I have a huge amount of respect for my own mum, and the other mothers I knew at the time.

It's the reason why I get a bit cross when I read threads on here where posters are claiming abusive upbringings for what read like fairly minor parental fuck-ups. (Usual disclaimer about genuine cases of abuse.)

Interestingly I saw something the other day about how 75 years ago 18 year olds were throwing themselves in to war, these days 18year olds need safe spaces because words are hurtful. Bit twee, but did make me think.

BandeauSally Sun 21-May-17 23:30:00

Oh and my mother had a husband a cleaner and a nanny.

budgiegirl Sun 21-May-17 23:33:38

My DM was a SAHP, except for a Saturday job. There were two of us, DM had a cleaner, and a gardener and found it stressful ( although she was a great mum).
We didn't do any clubs or activities other than one term of swimming lessons.

I work (from home) pretty much full time. I have three kids and a DH who works long hours. I don't have a cleaner , although my house is definitely not spotless.l, so I could do with one! My kids go to lots of activities. I also volunteer as a cub leader which takes up a lot of time.

So actually, I think I'm not a soft as my mum - and she often tells me I have a much busier life than she ever did.

Some mums are softer now, some are not. I certainly think that for most parents these days life is busier than it maybe was when I was a kid.

And I don't know any SAHMs with a nanny and a cleaner, although I'm sure they exist. But then , they probably existed 40 years ago too.

elizabethdraper Sun 21-May-17 23:34:38

Because they had nothing. There are no mountains of toys cluttering up the, wardrobes and drawers full to the brim with clothes, no cupboards jammed with gadgets.

One loo to clean, no day time telly, no what's APP, face book etc

But most importantly no mumsnet to waste 3 hours on

peachgreen Sun 21-May-17 23:35:12

My mum says the exact opposite. She didn't have to even think about working because my dad was paid a living wage and housing was far more affordable. She had an extended family including my grandparents who were young and able to help a lot. She herself was younger than most mums today. She says she doesn't understand how women do it now when they're older, grandparents aren't able to help as much, extended families are often split across the country and often mums have to work at least part time. Not that I'm saying she's right necessarily but it's an interesting opposite perspective.

I think every generation has their own benefits and drawbacks. Personally I think single parents are the biggest heroes, no matter what era.

Lightship Sun 21-May-17 23:35:45

'Softer' seems like an odd conclusion. Maybe 'looked at our mothers' lives and we hought, "Fuck that for a game of soldiers'?'

OP, i was born in the 70s, like you, to a SAHM of four children, who also had a minimum of three elderly relatives to look after in the same house, all on my father's tiny wage. My main ambition growing up was to get an education and live a life that didn't resemble hers in any way.

lelapaletute Sun 21-May-17 23:36:15

I think the expectation that we 'engage with' our children every minute they're​awake eats a lot of time. Currently arched on mat leave and get almost nothing done as i feel like my only opportunity to do so are 3 hour long naps a day - the rest of the time, surely I should be giving 100% to my pfb (4 mths old)? My MIL says she just use to stick my OH in his pram at the bottom of the garden if she had stuff to do! The way parenting is sold nowadays, the idea of 'ignoring' a baby like that is pretty frowned upon... I'm struggling to try and shake off the obsessiveness and just let her play by herself more in her chair / on her mat while I do things... But the conditioning is strong!

Haliez13 Sun 21-May-17 23:38:53

My DM was a SAHM. We also had a cleaner, gardener and nanny.

I mean, she was a fab mum and I loved her, but she was not exactly struggling with her lot.

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