Today's young mums look back to the 1970s and 80s as the generations they would most like to have been bringing up baby because they perceive them as being less pressured, according to the findings of extensive new research from P&G* exploring motherhood from the 1930s to the present day.
‘The Changing Face of Motherhood' report, released on International Women's Day, reveals that over a third of mums (34%) believe that today they have less time for themselves than their mothers did. The greatest percentage of mums (18%) have just 3-4 hours to themselves a week, equivalent to 26 minutes a day. 64% of these mums put this down to the demands of having to go out to work while 29% say that the pressure to be a perfect mother means they feel they have less ‘me time.' What's more, 88% of mums say they feel some guilt about their work/life balance and how much time they spend with their children.
The report was commissioned by P&G, the company behind brands such as Ariel, Fairy, Pampers and Olay, in conjunction with SIRC (Social Issues Research Centre) to explore the changing role of British mums across different generations. It explores mums' attitudes to raising children, their perceptions of how they are valued by society and contains a factual examination of how mums' lives have changed with everything from product innovations and time-saving devices in the home to increasing paid employment.
Grandma's the word
On a more positive note, the report spotlights the huge value today's young mums place on their own mothers; as carers of their children, friends and as sources of advice. After dads, grandmothers provide the most support for mums looking after baby (22%) and 47% of all mums rely on their mums as their most valued source of advice and support.
Furthermore, 20% of mums think that living closer to their mother is the single most important thing that would improve their quality of life as a mum. The research also reveals how today's mother and daughter relationships are based more on friendship than the traditional mother-daughter relationships of previous generations.
Mothers-in-law too are appreciated more than ever by today's mums, being valued as much as a source of help and support as childcare professionals.
The ‘Mumsnet' generation
As well as their mums, support networks of friends are crucial for today's mum. A whopping 68% of today's mums use technology such as Skype, texting and online social networks to communicate with and link up with their support networks each week, compared to just 17% who organise face-to-face meetings with their support network of mums. 63% of those questioned believe that these online communities have helped empower them as a collective group.
Kate Fox, co-Director of SIRC, comments, ""Motherhood has never been, and never should be, a solitary endeavour. With the increasing pressure on mothers to work a 'double shift' - to be the perfect mother as well as a wage-earner - support networks are more important than ever. And mothers are using every means of communication available to build the strong communities and networks of family and friends that they need."
Other key findings:
On average, mums spend 126 minutes a day looking after their children
20% spend over 28 hours a week of ‘active time' with their children (more than four hours a day)
49% of mums believe they spend more active time with their children than their mothers did with them when they were at the same life-stage
Mums are twice as involved with childcare as dads
Celebrity mum Edith Bowman who has teamed up with P&G to explore the changing role of mums over the generations, comments: "As a working mum, I know how hard it can be to juggle the demands of home life, and the pressure of trying to be a great mum. I am hugely appreciative of the support networks I have of my mum and friends and put a huge amount of value on these relationships."
Notes to Editors
The research was carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) on behalf of P&G in February 2011. The research comprises three strands:
Review of data and statistics from the 1930s to the present
Qualitative focus groups with mums of varied ages, (including interviews with their own mothers) and grandmothers
Quantitative survey of 1,000 mums
* Procter & Gamble (P&G) in the UK has revealed the results of an independent research report in association with Social Issues Research Centre which sheds light on how the role of motherhood has changed over the last 80 years. Full research available on request.
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