From the editorIt shouldn’t surprise anyone that moms are doing a better job than they think when it comes to time spent with the kids. Or that moms carry a bushel basket overflowing with mommy guilt every moment of the day as they do it.
The new study out of the University of Maryland—which found today’s moms spend about four hours per week more with their kids than their own mothers did with them—got my mom and me talking recently about the differences between her generation and mine.
My mom worked solid blue-collar jobs for little pay, first in a chicken processing plant, later in a shoe factory cementing heels on shoes she’d never be able to afford to wear. She got up, got us kids ready for the sitter, went to work, came home, fixed dinner and watched a little TV before falling into bed exhausted. The house was clean, the food simple but good, and we were happy. My sister and I didn’t worry about the amount of time she spent tending to our needs.
Of course, it never occurred to my mom—or probably many other moms of the ‘60s and ‘70s—to feel guilty because she wasn’t June Cleaver. She was the best mom a mom could be.
The University of Maryland study reports moms spent 10.5 hours a week on their kids in 1965, fewer hours in the 1970s and 1980s, then the numbers began to rise in the ‘90s to nearly 14.1 hours a week now spent on the kids. Still, more than half of the moms interviewed for the study didn’t think they were spending enough time with their kids.
One of ChicagoParent.com’s bloggers, Christina Meadowcroft of "Mommy Guilt: Whining & Joys of a Working Mom," says she knows how those moms feel. "I spend tremendous amounts of time with my children—almost all of my waking hours when I’m not at work, and that still doesn’t feel like enough," she writes.
No matter how much we do with our kids, it never feels like we do enough.
Of course, this generation of moms, whether we work or stay home with the kids (as if stay-at-home moms really ever get to stay home and watch the soaps), are used to thinking we can do and have it all, making us more used to multi-tasking and managing crazy schedules. Better than most of our moms could have, we juggle all the dance lessons and sports practices, homework, bedtime stories and the seemingly endless list of other activities our kids are in. We get the housework and other things done while the kids sleep.
Many of us also are lucky enough to have partners who chip in with child care and household chores, something that’s probably also changed more than a little from the previous generation when taking care of the kids and house were "mom’s work."
So yes, we are spending more time with the kids and less time working on our marriages, less time sleeping and more time feeling guilty.
Over the years, I’ve found that a simple hug and an ‘I love you’ goes a long way toward easing mommy’s guilt. This is a fine month to do it.
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