NZ Woman's Weekly

Motherhood in the 21st Century

Motherhood in the 21st Century

According to a US survey into whether motherhood is harder now than it was a generation ago, 70% of
women questioned said yes. They also said factors such as drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, TV, the internet and keeping kids safe were the biggest issues parents face today.

While our mums didn’t have mod cons to help them with parenting – like the whizzy household appliances we have – they tended to have more time to devote solely to their kids, whereas today we have time-saving gadgets but less quality time with our families because of the pressures of 21st century life. We decided to do a survey of our own. Here are the opinions of some of our readers:

  • Even though many years ago the work was more physical, today there are so many new issues to deal with. It is tougher all around.
    Lorayne
  • We get to watch TV and sit on the computer on Facebook, or go to a café to have a moan. My mum had to wash nappies by hand using a wringer washing machine, had no dryer, baked bread by hand and had no TV or computer.
    Rebekah
  • I feel like it has become about money, it is no longer about just being the best mother you can be. If you can’t buy the best pram or the most fancy breast pump then you are not a good mother, which does my head in.
    Nika
  • Life is faster paced but as mums these days we have a lot of things to help us save time. Technology can be a big distraction which makes us feel like we don’t have enough time.
    Melissa
  • My mum stayed home 95% of the time and had routines for us all that equalled less stress (her words). I’m at home less than 40% of the time and have no routine because of that, which equals more stress.
    Alana
  • The stress level is probably the same now as then although for differing reasons, but we have become a nation of complainers with a sense of entitlement. Back then women were much more stoic and just got on with it.
    Lynne
  • It is more stressful now as many mothers are not only full-time parents but often have to earn an income to get by. While being a parent is comparable, the extra stress of being a provider and the guilt that goes with it is genuine. Every generation has hardship but while children in my generation just played in the street, there is pressure now to put your child into activities, drive them everywhere and give them gadgets for fear that they will be left behind.
    Miranda
  • My mum had to light the copper to do the washing. Everything was hand-wrung, so imagine how long it took to dry in winter. No fridge, no telephone, no dryer, no microwave or even an electric cooker. My mum had a coal range to cook on, no car to drive, no fast foods for those nights when tiredness overtook her – she still had to produce a hot evening meal. The linoleum had to be polished weekly and husbands in those days didn’t jump up to lend a hand. Give me motherhood today – I’d hate to live under the conditions my mother did.
    Erina
  • A lot of the stress is generally brought on by mothers wanting the nicest and best products in the mega-house in the best neighbourhoods. They want to keep up with the Joneses but is it worth it?
    Rachel
  • Fifteen to 20 years ago it was easy and affordable to take one to five years off to raise your children. The cost of living has increased which has forced a lot of parents back into full-time work. It’s a fine balancing act to be a great mum and partner, and be successful in a career.
    Melissa
  • I worked from the time both my babies were a couple of months old and was thankful that I had an automatic washing machine, a relatively new thing – all those cloth nappies kept piling up. I had to make food for the babies as there was little outside Farex as far as baby food went. We didn’t have dishwashers or much in the way of appliances outside of a toaster and a cake mixer. Stress? We knew no better, so we just took it in our stride. I think there is too much emphasis on “things” today. Technology that is supposed to make our lives easier has made people slaves to consumerism. Get back to basics, keep it simple and you’ll enjoy your family and your life.
    Heather
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