I could not believe my ears. Nothing had changed in the 33 years since I had my firstborn. In a survey entitled ‘Today’s Mum’, sponsored by iconic Irish brand Sudocrem (who have just launched a new barrier ointment called ‘Care and Protect’) I learned that only 14% of partners share the housework equally and 19% do nothing at all.
I was shocked by this revelation. When GG and I got married, I did everything for several years until I trained him! In fact, I wrote a post recently about how we managed to survive 35 years together without one of us walking out (I meant me, of course!). Read about it it here. And I think that one of the most contentious issues was housework and helping with the chores. Well, it seems that it still is a major gripe among young mothers.
The results were based on 400 mothers and grandmothers who were surveyed as part of the research.
We happened to be minding Logan, the beloved one-year old grandson, that day, so he came along also. Luckily. Auntie Coco, aka the stylist daughter, was there to lend a hand too.
Logan was delighted to meet Maia Dunphy, writer, broadcaster and blogger mum (http://www.themword.ie/) who was launching the report. She was interviewed informally by broadcaster Sarah McInerney (below left) of Newstalk (I prefer her on the Drivetime show with Chris Donoghue to Ivan Yates but that’s for another day) and the findings of the report were discussed.
I suppose the most interesting finding was that two out of three mothers in the survey would prefer to stay at home rather than go out to work. I know Logan’s mum would, but unfortunately it is not an option for middle-income mothers.
I was a teacher and when I had my babies, I wanted to continue teaching, but I felt that I had to return too soon. My two girls were each less than four months and I remember crying all the way to work leaving my eldest, who clung to me like glue when I was dropping her off. It was also difficult as I was breastfeeding and she refused the breast altogether in the end. It was easier with the second as our new childminder was a sweetheart and in fact some evenings they did not want to come home.
So even though maternity leave has improved and there is unpaid leave available also, in most cases this is not an option, because bills have to be paid. So, yes, I do agree that mothers need more support from the State and their employers.
Key Findings in relation to Grandmothers
71% of grannies feel that today’s mothers have greater supports than they did.
I know I felt very lonely when I had my first child as I was living in an estate where I knew nobody and there were no ‘mum and baby’ groups. To top it all, I was the first of my friends to have a baby. But many mums still feel isolated unappreciated and unsupported today and I suppose this depends hugely on where in the country you live and what support groups are available and how close you live to your own mother.
61% feel that their adult daughters are more dependent on them than they were on their own mothers.
My mum lived in the country and was busy with the rest of the family (I am the eldest of six) and helping to run a farm. I am in the privileged position of living close to my daughter and so can play a role in my grandson’s life. We mind him one day a week and babysit any time we can. It is a joy to do so.
Two out of three of mothers today say they have good relationships with their own mothers.
That is heartening news. I believe most new mums rely on their own mothers initially and they are the first port of call if they need help.
Almost half of all the grannies surveyed (49%) felt that their daughters’ partners did not do enough chores in the home.
I will not comment on that. He might just read this post! Just joking; he is good, but there is always room for improvement in every man.
The discussion focused on what could be done to help young mothers (and fathers too) spend more time at home with their children, if they wished to do so. More flexible working conditions, more affordable housing, extending maternity and paternity leave were all mentioned.
Maia Dunphy (above) stressed the importance of mothers not being too hard on themselves and to pat themselves on the back and say they were doing the best they can. The old Irish guilt comes to the fore as always. Working mothers always have in the past and I suspect will always feel guilty, because they go out to work and have to get their babies minded.
The report covers much more than I can mention in a post. If you wish to have a closer look at the findings you can read the report here.
A beautiful video entitled ‘Today’s Mum’ commissioned by Sudocrem was also shown. Now that tugged at the heartstrings. Do have a look here and I dare you not to cry.