Generations have done it over and over. We have more facilities, conveniences, appliances, choices and flexibility at our disposal than at any other point in history. Our other halves are generally way more supportive than our own fathers will have ever been. Yet somehow, being a mum appears to be harder than ever before. All you need to do is take a look at the forums full of women, and eves-drop into some of those shared moments over a cuppa where exactly that is being expressed – that something that is mum burnout.
Whether you’re a full time mum or working mum, whichever way you spin it – and I have sat on both sides – the consensus is it just all feels a lot harder and more complicated than in years gone by. To my mind, proof of that is in the rise of one child families.
But how can this possibly be? We no longer need to wash cloth diapers all day long, or do the dishes a bazillion times over…yet somehow so many mums I know feel totally overwhelmed with motherhood…at least for the first year. Are we all just utterly spoilt? Or is there something else afoot?
I say something has shifted and I cite the following 5 reasons as somewhat of an explanation:
- A flurry of experts inundating us with their tried and tested methods for pretty much everything related to parenting – from sleep routines, to diet, how much TV they can or can’t watch and everything else in-between…there is far too much emphasis and anxiety over “doing it right”. It’s do this, don’t do that, with conflicting views abound. It’s an information minefield out there, as we try to navigate our best path through. There’s something to be said for that old adage – ignorance is bliss.
- We have far greater expectations on ourselves that ever before. We want to be perfect and everything we do to be perfect. We want to be the perfect mother, partner, lover, friend, employee, entrepreneur and it’s just not possible to be the perfect everything, or possibly anything, all at once. Or even at all!
- Families are not the surrounding network they once used to be – broken families and geographically disparate families mean that once upon a time, there was an extended family there to help bring up children…grandparents, aunts, uncles and so on. Now, for most people I know, the emphasis is very much on the nuclear family.
- Which leads me onto my next point. The failing network of the extended family and our relatively new found career-mindedness leads us to lean on childcare providers, most of whom charge an extortionate amount to care for our children on a daily basis. With little other option, we have become intrinsically reliant on this industry, making being a mum much more of a financial, guilt-wracked burden than ever before.
- Parenting is much more involved that it used to be. These days we are expected to craft, teach, be hands-on and ensure the right amount of exercise (cue obesity fear!) all the way throughout the day, leaving little time for anything else. Once upon a time, kids were left to just get on with it, bumble around outside or plonked in front of the TV – now the day has to be filled with enriching activities facilitated by yourself.
What other factors do you think is contributing to this general state of woe? To chime in and share your view…