What a difference a generation makes
Are men better at juggling balls or do women just have more?
In just three generations, the role of women has changed massively. The role men play has too, but I can only speak from my woman’s perspective and use my experience as a basis.
Born in the 1920s, she had her children then left work to raise them. She filled her days with looking after them (my mum and uncle), working through her daily routine of housework, cooking, cleaning and running the home. She had those two areas really – raising the kids and running the home.
She was very organised, doing certain jobs on each day – washing on a Monday, floors on a Tuesday, for example and then each day had a meal allocated to it so that everyone knew what was happening.
It all ran like clockwork because it was the same every week and it all got done.
My mum was born in the 1950s and when she had me and my (twin) sister, she had five years off work with us.
She then went to work part-time as a secretary, working 9am – 1pm every day when we went to school. Like my nan, her week was routine – get the kids to school, work, come home for lunch, a quick bit of prep for the evening, collect us then sort dinner, bath and bed.
She had the same two things as my nan – raising the kids and running an home, plus she added part-time work to the mix.
I don’t ever remember her running about like a headless chicken…she always made it look so organised but when we talk about it now, she says she looks back and felt headless chicken at times!
But we always had what we needed – lunches made, uniforms ready, forms filled in, money paid, taken to clubs, picked up again, nothing ever ran out on the shopping and we always had money for holidays because she was a fabulous bookkeeper!
My baby was born in 2011. I went back to work when she was 10 months old, working 9am – 5pm Monday – Wednesday. When she went to school just after she was four, I started to work full time. Three days on the PAYE job and the other two in Izzy PR at home.
When she was six, I took the leap into full self-employment, working 5 days a week. I have a mix of long days and shorter days thanks to grandparent help, but I always take her to school.
I had a baby that didn’t sleep until she was four, and so the time from 10 months when I went back to work to that point was torturous, trying to be a normal person whilst battling massive sleep deprivation. And I can tell you, people around you aren’t that sympathetic of it after a while. I used to get around 45 mins of sleep, four or five times a night and that was my life for that time…
Add post-natal depression and PTSD from the birth into the mix and it made for a really hard few years, but I’d had a baby and that is just how I thought it was! Get on with it…
And so, like my nan, I was child-raising and running a home, like my mum I was working part-time and then latterly, full-time.
My nan had all day to get her house sorted and make sure everything was done – fast forward two generations later and I’m trying to get it all done at break-neck speed, slotting bits in here and there to make sure the family, home and job all get the attention they need.
I’m not famous for being much cop at maths but even I know that trying to get all of this into a day is a tall order…when no-one bothered to make the day longer than 24 hours!
And so, whilst I’m so pleased that women don’t have to give up their jobs to have their kids any more, the flip side is lots of women across the world, in your life, office or networking group who have all these balls in the air and on most days will be dropping one or two!
I know there will be men too but we don’t hear of this kind of juggling act with them – are they better at juggling or do they have less balls? (No pun intended…)
I can only speak from the women’s side but I’d love to hear what you men think and maybe even collaborate with one of you on your experience of how women’s roles in the home and workplace have changed and affected your lives.
Could you write the man’s version of this article?