1950s housewifeThe other day I was at a friend’s house with a group of mothers and our children after school. Our children all go to different schools nearby. One of my friends told us that she had been asked to make an outfit for her 5-year-old son as his school was having a fairytale day. The letter from the school stated that they would prefer parents to make an outfit rather than buy one. My immediate reaction was outrage at the request even though I wasn’t being asked to do it. My outrage partially stems from the fact that I have no idea how to use a sewing machine and I can only just about sew a hem up. One of my other friends was equally outraged and said ‘The school seems to think we are all 1950s housewives with nothing else to do but make outfits’. So is making children’s dressing up outfits an essential skill every mother should have? I am not sure that it is although it would certainly save me some money. I also suspect that in the 1950s, women would not have been asked to make a costume for a special day at school, as they probably wouldn’t have had the money for such frivolities.

There does seem to be a current trend towards home-baking and traditional craft activities at the moment. I like baking, I would like to be able to knit but I am not so keen on sewing. However, I think we should all pause to think about what is essential to being a good mother before getting sucked into feeling that all mothers have to make cakes, sew costumes and knit scarves. Many mothers work long hours and I think it is unreasonable to expect such mothers to come home and do lots of home-making activities unless they want to. My friend who had been asked to make the DIY costume already works four days a week and she does not have that much time to sew.

So what makes a good mum? I have decided to compile a list of essentials and non-essentials.

Essential mother skills

-Showing love and affection to your children.
-Listening and talking to your children.
-Setting boundaries for your children so they feel secure.
-Attending to your children’s physical needs-providing food, shelter and warmth.

Non-essential mother skills

-Baking cakes-we can buy cakes instead!
-Sewing costumes-we can buy a dressing-up costume to make it easier for ourselves.
-Hosting and planning big birthday parties-we can have a small party at home or just take our child out somewhere nice.
-Buying expensive presents-we can explain to our children that we don’t have endless supplies of money. If you are worried about how to explain not being able to afford Christmas presents, you can say Father Christmas brings the stocking fillers only.

Sometimes it may be better for our children and us to do less rather than more. Buying a few cakes rather than baking them for the school fundraiser may mean we are less stressed and have more time to talk, read or play with our children. As mothers we don’t have to do it all and we should avoid feeling guilty for it. What can you stop doing to relieve the pressure?

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