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Women have their little careers till they have babies. Then they do as little as possible, preferably not working at all after that

(532 Posts)
StealthPolarBear Wed 03-Apr-13 13:27:24

I am infuriated by this attitude which seems to be prevalent. After women have had babies they only work if they have to, and go part time if they can. But I can't put into words why I work - why wouldn't I? I work for the same reasons as I did before I had children. I work for the same reasons as DH works.
Either of us could give up work and we'd cope. But that was true pre-children. Women continuing to work FT seems to be a slur on their man's ability to 'provide'.

seeker Sat 06-Apr-13 12:41:04

There is a difference between stopping paid work to look after children and stopping paid work to be a housewife. My I respectfully ask you to stop using the word housewife.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Apr-13 12:53:48

Seeker. I totally agree and can also honestly say, I don't know any housewives.


You make valid points on which quite often I do agree. However, your constant referral to housewives detracts from the conversation or debate because it is totally irrelevant. Can you really not see that there is no role of housewife now, otherwise if all sahm are by definition housewives then you are too whenever you are not in paid employment. I'm sure you do similar domestic chores as everybody else, unless a cleaner follows you round doing the chores. Does your dp or dc not do their fair share, does it remain your work?
In my family we all pull our weight and I'm sure we're not unique in this respect.
You admit yourself to planning meals, cooking in advance etc. I don't do that stuff and yet you refer to me as a housewife, when I probably perform far fewer domestic chores than yourself.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:09:02

Housewife is a particularly stupid term. When I was at home full time I was a widow-how could I possibly be a wife of any sort?

kickassangel Sat 06-Apr-13 13:36:20

housewife was used for the times when women gave up work upon marriage in order to run the house properly - not when they became mothers.

Back in the days when even the latest gadgets (a twin tub - yeah!) meant that laundry took at least a day, then you had to dry stuff & iron it, it was pretty much expected that women would stop working when they got married.

we're talking about parents here, not 1950s housewives.

blueshoes - how much do you attribute the choices that women make to their personal whims, and how much to the structure of society which vastly reduces their freedom of choice? It sounds like you think that society is like this because women want to stay home and play mother, whereas I would argue tha women stay home because of the structure of society.

Exotic - I am so sad that this debate has made you refer to such a sad period in your life. I can only imagine how upsetting it must be to feel labelled by this misnomer.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:40:45

It just seemed so ridiculous at the time that I can't take it as a serious term. It refers to at least 50 years ago and then women who stayed at home fell outside it anyway e.g. widows, spinster DDs who looked after aged parents etc (spinster being a similar out of date word)

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Apr-13 14:00:43

I think some mothers stay at home due to the structure of society because it is heard so often on these threads, let alone in rl. Whilst there are mothers who want to work but suffer because of barriers we won't have equality or real choice.
Neither will we see sahms as a positive alternative choice to wohm.

Exotic, whilst looking at the sheer inappropriate term of housewife I hadn't considered the wider implications. I am too am really sorry yourself and others would have this label attached to them.

My mum was the typical 1950's housewife with the old fashioned values (and pinny) However, even this type worked part time and were very active in the community and had interests. My mum was secretary for many local groups WI, volunteered at Derby and Joan club. Looked after old people/ neighbours. Dad came home from work, took over the care of me and siblings and mum went out to meet her friends and groups. She never gave up anything because of us and I really appreciate this. Housework was much harder than now and to be a good housewife meant hard work all day. Throughout my childhood she won awards for community work, competitions for singing (including the Llangollen International Eisteddfod), had a book of poetry published. She never regretted anything and enjoyed life to the full whatever role she was occupied with.
Maybe these 1950's housewives were the first feminists. I know I certainly look up to her achievements. I miss her very much.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 14:13:28

You can certainly do lots at home without the constraints of having to go out and earn money. It was the only time I have employed a cleaner-I was too busy with various roles to get on top of the housework. Once I was back at work with just one role it was much easier to do it.

kickassangel Sat 06-Apr-13 16:01:17

so why isn't it accepted for both men & women to access these roles? surely a man should be able to be a parent/community worker/part time employee just as much as a woman.

and women should be able to return to ft employment without there being as many obstacles.

both are valid life choices and make considerable contributions to their families and broader society, so why does it seem to be so hard to do this? capitalist corporations don't like to have to treat their workers as individuals, but there are many people who work outside of the corporate world, yet we seem to adopt their work practices. Why?

I'm hoping to do some research on what work practices have been in the past. Somewhere in my brain is the idea that before industrialisation that life wasn't quite like this, but is that just a false nostalgia?

laundry - how does charitable work get done in Finland? In the Us & UK it relies heavily upon the SAHM type (and early retired/unemployed/work experience youngsters). In a culture where a higher % of adults are working, who does the other stuff, like visiting the elderly etc.

seeker Sat 06-Apr-13 16:16:09

"so why isn't it accepted for both men & women to access these roles? surely a man should be able to be a parent/community worker/part time employee just as much as a woman."

It should be. As I said, my partner and I discussed at great length which one of us should be the one to stay at home.

scottishmummy Sat 06-Apr-13 16:50:23

DO we have cleaner?yes
Do we do equitably share tasks,yes.cook,clean,shop etc
My dp attends to his own dry cleaning,collects/drop off.sorts his own stuff
Kids do age appropriate tasks,sometimes with a vigorous prompt,but over all yes
Drop off/pick up we share. annual leave,work at home to accommodate days oo we share responsibility
Each week in shared diary we nite whI emergency person is,if school/nursery call.we negotiate this based on who's got what on at work,determining who can go at short notice

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 16:50:42

I think that lots of men would like to-I know my brother would but unfortunately he earns the most.

seeker Sat 06-Apr-13 17:45:05

Sort of the same as us scottish- except we don't have a cleaner. We did- but we decided we could do more fun things with the money.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 17:51:18

"I want to demonstrate work to my children as I have a belief it's good for mental,physical health,self esteem and give financial security ones own money"

My esteem is not based on the money I earn! what a peculiar notion. However I would definitely agree it is good for esteem and health to have interests outside of the home. I just don't see what money has to do with it. The money is in my bank account, I take it out. I spend it. Whoopdidoo.

"so why isn't it accepted for both men & women to access these roles? surely a man should be able to be a parent/community worker/part time employee just as much as a woman."

Yes. There are many men involved in community work. How do you think football leagues and stuff come about? My local community centres are run and managed by men.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 17:53:33

I can never understand why esteem =money or why you are defined by your job.

rubyrubyruby Sat 06-Apr-13 18:04:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Sat 06-Apr-13 18:42:48

Interesting too that somehow it's OK to delegate tasks that one doesn't like/think boring/haven't time for/think beneath us to other women we pay peanuts to.

rubyrubyruby Sat 06-Apr-13 19:34:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Sat 06-Apr-13 19:50:39

I always think that when people say "I have to go to work for the mental stimulation/I find being at home so boooooorrrrring". Absolutely, if you have a challenging, exciting job- but most people don't. Most people- men and women- have jobs solely to earn money. And not much of that.

seeker Sat 06-Apr-13 19:51:33

For example- doing another family's ironing........

skaen Sat 06-Apr-13 20:13:08

But equally,some people may prefer doing other people's ironing while watching tv and earning s bit if money and doing it round school/ other work/ volunteering etc. I don't send ironing out btw so no axe to grind.

Op, I've noticed the comments have dropped off a lot since the DCs started school but I work in an area where it is easy to work from home and parental responsibilities do appear to be fairly split as far as possible - the majority of the men in my private sector, traditional male type office have flexible working arrangements in place to cover after school care etc. it does seen to me that slowly more men are taking a greater role in looking after and bringing up their children than they would 10 years ago. I hope for both DD and DS's sake that this continues.

StealthPolarBear Sat 06-Apr-13 20:32:37

Ok I think bpuehoes asked meabout the choices that individual women making affect society's perceptions, and that is definitely true, I won't argue. I see a lot of parallels with breastfeeding. I have professional and personal interest in getting women breastfeeding and continuing to breastfeed. The more.women that do it, the more normal it will ne, and so the more women will do it. Culture and society will change to normalise it. However that doesn't extend to me berating individual women for not breastfeeding. As for sahm/wohm each woman or family chooses what works for them. What I want is for that to be an informed choice, and for society to chanhe to support women, both in breastfeeding and in the workplace. So that more choose to breastfeed, or feel they have a choice to return to work, without all the difficulties women currently face. In this utopia there will still be women who sahm, and there will still be women who formula feed (not necessarily the same group). And they will, of course, be the best people to make this choice.

Scottish I hope you havent accused me of the eye rolling/ drunk comments. Because I haven't.

VerySmallSqueak Sat 06-Apr-13 20:50:52

If you're on a low wage it's sometimes better to be in a part time role than full time.
That way you can contribute and have some financial independence but not have to face massive childcare bills when covering holidays (especially if you have more than one child).
Some people work to how much childcare can be covered by a relative,because they quite simply earn less per hour than childcare would cost them.It makes sense that the lower earner,whether that's the man or the woman takes the more part time role,and bears the brunt of covering for children's sickness etc.
Right or wrong it's the reality for many.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Apr-13 22:28:15


I am most interested in your post regarding those not working in the corporate world. My dh is self employed and works all sorts of weird and wonderful hours, including many from home. He/we as a family have stepped away from the lifestyle I hear about so much on here. An example is people referring to raising dc as childcare. Now I know its the same thing but as one who has never used childcare outside the home I struggle to use this term in terms of raising my dc. Other examples I find are the battles between parents of child rearing, time to themselves, division of labour etc. We don't seem to experience these.
If you do decide to do some research I would be most interested to hear how you go on.
Good luck with this. grin

DuelingFanjo Sat 06-Apr-13 22:37:32

I think even 'boring' jobs can be mentally stimulating for some people. I work because I want to and because we would not be able to pay our bills and mortgage on just one wage unless we were entitled to benefits and I don't want to stop working so I can get benefits. When my husband was made redundant last year and was out of work for a bit it really made me realise I didn't want to be the sole earner, and I wouldn't feel right about my DH beng the sole earner either.

DuelingFanjo Sat 06-Apr-13 22:41:22

There's no way I would get a cleaner or someone in to do the ironing. Lots of parents do al this and work out of the home.

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