Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A conversation with my mother........

I had an interesting conversation with my mum the other day.

I had popped into her place with the boys for a cuppa on my way back from town.

As we were sitting and chatting I casually said to her "I don't know how you kept the house so tidy when we were growing up, nothing was ever out of place".

Now I'm one of six, mum had three then an eight year gap then me, my brother and baby sister.  We were a busy household with lots of after school activities going on.  We were noisy.  We had pets and always had friends popping in and out.  Dad worked long hours during the week and played in his band in the weekends.  I never saw him do any housework or cooking.  Mum did everything.

She looked at me with one eyebrow raised and said "Do you really want to know?"

"Of course!" said moi.

Here is the list of what she said, in no particular order:

  • When she was a young mum, women spent alot of time at home.  The street was full of stay at home mums.  They said hello to each other over the fence while hanging out the washing - early in the morning.  Sometimes they would pop over for a cuppa - there were no such things as "coffee groups".
  • Children played in the garden or in the street.  They were not taken to daytime activities, like swimming, music and movement unless they had kindy or school.
  • We were at home to do household chores, cooking, baking, mending etc - we had the time to do it as we had no other place to be.  These types of things were priority.
  • Shopping was done in town once a week.
  • School runs were done on foot mainly.  You lived and went to the local school.  NO sitting in long traffic queues to get to school in the morning or afternoon.  After a time we walked to and from school with neighbouring kids.........it was safe.
  • We did'nt have computers.  No time wasted sitting on "that Facebook thing".
  • Children did'nt have that many toys.  Mum can't get over the amount of toys that children have today - I did not point out however that she buys a good deal of them now though!

I asked her if she ever felt lonely.  She said no, she was too busy.  She always chatted to other mums in the street and on the school runs.  "And you never had Girls nights out".

We chatted for ages on the subject.  Pros and Cons for today's stay at home AND working mums.
Tell me lovely readers - Do we have it better these days?  Are things easier or harder?
Would you want to go back?
I'm Thirty Five now so we are talking a few decades back here.  I don't think I could do what my mum did. Day in day out.  No help from the man of the house.  Mr H does loads around the here.  He takes the kids out in the weekend to give me a break and will often come home from work and cook dinner if things are a bit "mad" around here.  And he irons better than I do too!

Something to think about....................I can't wait for our next catch up and cuppa.  What should I ask her next?!


  1. Like you say, pros and cons. I think there is a lot of judgement towards stay at home mums and in paid work mums, I stopped studying and working when my 3rd baby was due and from the moment she was born (resulting in 3 under 5), I was asked when I would go back to work. Give me a break! lol. Compare this to your Mum's experience where you are expected to stay at home... times have changed!

  2. At least women have the choice now - in our mothers' day they didn't. That must have been very frustrating for many women. Interesting post!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  3. I think it is both easier and harder in different ways. We have more choice but also more expectation. I work part time as do most of my friends and there is a general expectation of wives working by many husbands. In turn though many husbands have not increased their help to compensate for what their wife cannot do when she is at work. That can create a lot of stress. I will be very curious to see how gen Y manage working/children/families. mel x

  4. Very interesting, you Mum has made some very valid points! I think our lifestyles were simple back then. I grew up very close to my Mum, she actually taught me so much about life yet I can't ever remember her playing with me, helping me with my homework, discussing tricky situations I might find myself in a school. I just got on with being a kid, she got on with being a working mum! I wonder how we would fare being transported back! :) x

  5. There are pros and cons to both. I think we are under more pressure now to try and do everything (maybe that is just me putting too much pressure on myself).

  6. I have this conversation with my mum all the time. I don't know how she did it. When we lived in NZ, she had no car. She had to walk her 'three under three' to the supermarket, push a trolley, a toddler and a twin pram around the shop, and then somehow walk back home. When we moved to Australia, she again had no car, but no washing machine (!), and no vacuum cleaner (!!!). But our house was spotless. Our clothes pressed to within an inch of their lives. Food - properly cooked food - on the table three times a day.
    She didn't work full time. She sometimes had part-time jobs when times were tough. And we were 'free' I think, so do whatever we wanted, a lot of the time. I don't explicitly remember her (or my dad) ever getting down on the floor with us and just playing - there was always so much to do. But I don't resent it in the slightest. It was just what it was. I had a very happy childhood.
    I also remember never disobeying the rules, and I wonder why my boys don't have that same trait! Oh, how I wish they did sometimes.
    My dad and I talk about this a lot too. He always says that it's harder for us 'these days'. He says "In my day, one wage was enough to pay for a mortgage, a car, and a holiday to the beach for two weeks a year. Now, you can't possibly so that on one wage - life it so bloody expensive".
    I don't know what's better. Or worse. I think we all just do what we can to get through the days the best way we can.
    Please please keep 'interviewing' your mum - I think this will be so interesting!

  7. What a lovely post.

    I have this conversation with your mum and my mum too! I find it endlessly interesting.

    I think our expectations about life have changed so much. We 'need' technology and the benefits it brings. But we get sucked into the fast lane as a result. My mum swears life is harder these days, with more expenses and housing costs much higher.

    She worked part time from when my brother was 3. And that was frowned upon. Her father didn't speak to her for almost a year. Money wasn't the issue - as Jen says, one wage was enough to pay the mortgage, buy the food and manage the car. But she needed to do it for her own sanity.

    And boy do I know what that's like! Staying at home 24/7 doing nothing but household work bores me literally to tears. I love my kids and would happily be with them all day, but I'm used to being creatively and intellectually occupied in other ways. I need to get out of the house. I think a lot of women experienced this in our mothers' and our grandmothers' generations. But it was swept under the carpet.

    I find myself craving a simple life (and a spotless well organised house) like your mums, but at the same time I'm not prepared to give up my music, my 2 part time jobs and my crafty endeavours. Or our ladies nights out! The simple fact is we need two (or three) incomes to make ends meet and I need some out of the house time to keep me sane!

    SIL <3 xox

  8. I remember having a similar conversation with my mum. My children are 9 and 11, and I am still a stay at home mum. I wouldn't say that my house is spotless, yes the computer is a great time waster, but I cook, garden, clean (occasionally) and craft. We do go without some luxuries for me to do this, but we feel that it is important for me to be at home, to be there when my children come home from school. I am able to help with homework and take them to activities if need be. I think because so may mums work these days, life is probably a bit lonelier for us SAHMs, so thank goodness for blogging.

  9. This is a really lovely post and although I was only one of two kids it is not unlike how I grew up either. They were simpler times, and for us money was tight but there was enough for the essentials. We had no activites, walked to the bus and mum was always home. Funnily enough, my life now is not THAT different from how your mother described. I go into town once a week to do the shopping too, the kids go the local school and there is a small group of stay at home mums here that I see daily. Admitedly we do go out on the weekend for an activity each for our elder two and I probably do waste time on the computer! But we try to keep things as simple as possible to stay sane. We just don't like rushing around :)

  10. I had this conversation with my Mum too
    And a similar one with my 90 year old client
    I am fortunate to work from home around my children
    But as my kids get older there are fewer and fewer Mums with kids my kids age still at home
    For me it is important to be at home, however, I understand the need/necessity to work/bring in an income
    YES many kids have WAY too many toys and do not know how to amuze themselves

  11. I love this post! I so think that going back is hands down better for me. I am one of 6 too and we lived by a lake growing up. My mom would do the summer cleaning and just send us out for the day to fish, catch frogs, and play in the dirt. We only came back when we were hungry! Hence, she got a lot done! And we were free to learn and explore! Something to be said about that!

  12. I love this post - I think life is harder because we have been led to believe we have to be lots of places and do lots of things all the time... Ironically studies have shown kids who live in say Africa with no toys and activities are just at well adjusted and developed, if not better, as children in western countries that get carted around all over and have more than they need. it certainly is food for thought. :)

  13. I sometimes wish I'd be born into a different era...but like you, I love (and appreciate) having a husband who helps at home in more ways than one! I think we have much to learn from our mothers and grandmothers....it's important to know how motherhood has evolved.

  14. Very interesting! Your mum's experience sounds very similar to my mum's, and no doubt some things were better then, like the amount of free playing outside kids did. But I think women have more choice now in their decision to be at home or not, and most men do help more. So I'm thankful for that progression. :-) x

  15. A wonderful conversation indeed! I'd like to think that many of us are practicing the great parts of those times, with a modern edge. Mum and I spoke about this once too and she pointed out that so many people say they can't afford to be stay at home mothers these days, when that was the norm for so long. She said priorities have changed and what we consider essentials. When they were first married they had one car, a mortgage, a phone line and electricity to pay for - no mobiles, no internet, no pay tv, no credit cards - and they expected to have to save up for things and wait for things. They didn't buy pre-packaged food as they couldn't afford it, so she cooked everything from scratch and they used cloth nappies because disposables were too expensive. She believes that people are very impatient these days and want everything straight away and don't appreciate it. Food for thought indeed. :)

  16. I LOVE this Post and have been meaning to come back to it since I read it the other day. I could talk about this topic all day long. I loved working but now I have kids I love staying home with them. I don't think I'd cope with 5 Kids if it weren't for my Husbands help, which is huge so I'm quite glad I live in these times. Also, expectations of keeping house are a bit more relaxed now, whereas my Mum spent most of her time cleaning and cooking. I love that I can flick a few appliance switches on and play with the kids. I do love the simplicity of previous times though and that is the sole reason we moved back here, to have a simpler life where there are a lot of stay-at-home Mums, no pressure to do a gazillion activities. I just wish there was less technology, it's such a pain dealing with it, as much as I am on it myself!!! These are the questions I used to ask my Grandma all the time. Looking forward to your next installment. Mel x


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