The Parent Trap - Jane Cadzow published in SMH Good Weekend Feb 3 2007.
"Australian parents have never spent so much time avidly interacting with their children. Though most mothers are now in the paid workforce, adults and children have more contact with one another than they did 30 years ago, says University of New ENgland times-use analyst Michael Bittman. How are we managing it? Simple really. We no longer have a minute to ourselves. Mothers and, to a lesser extent, fathers have reduced the time they allot to sleep, personal grooming and tehir own leisure. As Wise (Aust Institute of Family Studies, child development researcher Sarah WIse) puts it, "parents feel the need to sacrifice absolutely everything, putting their children's needs before theri own, to be seen as doing an adequate job".
In that part of the weekday evening when our own parents were watching TV or having a few laughs over a highball, we are in our children's bedrooms, reading aloud from WInd in the Willows. ..."
As a self confessed pushy and competitive Mum I do not necessarily disagree with everything in this article. I do however have a problem with some of the language used - 'sacrifice' seems to carry more negative connotations than the time I give to the kids involves - yes I have 'given up' the copious leisure time (and increased wealth) of being a Dink (double income no kids) but sacrifice is the last word that comes to mind to describe my attitude to it all. Yes I do spend time with the brats and mostly it is personal grooming and sleep that have suffered (yes hairy legs and bedraggled hair in need of a stylist). But it isn't a sacrifice for me it is a choice - something I actually LIKE to do.
As for being stuck reading Wind in the Willows - Lordy - besides the fact it is a great book - what would you choose to be doing - reading one of many wonderful and clever children's books or watching Australia's biggest loser??? No contest for me! Besides which we both put the twins to bed - definitely not an unwarranted claim on our time by our children.
I am not saying that juggling demands isn't difficult. The twins are 2 now and we could probably make more of an effort to go out just the two of us in the evening but overall we manage to enjoy a lot of time with the kids and then clock off about 7.30 - when grown up time commences. I don't think it is a bad life or a poor choice and I think this article should have made that clearer. I certainly don't make these choices so that I can "be seen to be doing an adequate job". I don't think that is what it is all about at all!
Sleeping beauties ...