Did parents 20 years ago have more time? 

I often wonder if parents in the 1980s and 1990s, and way before that had more time than parents do today? More time to spend with their children, to do the housework, to read a book, or to have a bath. Generally just more time to do more things or to get stuff done.

Obviously parenting techniques haven’t changed; we still have babies and raise our children in the best way for us. But our lifestyles have changed.

There are a few factors that contribute to parents of 2017 having less time than those 20 to 30 years ago.

Breastfeeding. This might sound mad to even be included in this list. However with the rise in breastfeeding and the want to do so, as breastfeeding mum I know it’s time consuming. I know it’s for the good of the baby and the good of the mother too, but it’s incredibly time consuming especially if your baby likes to cluster feed throughout the day and won’t take a bottle. Fear not ladies if you’re in this situation and have done nothing else all day, trust me it does end and each feed becomes so much quicker, so eventually you will have time to clean the house and make dinner.

Alongside this there’s trying to be seen as the perfect parent who takes their baby or toddler to baby and toddler groups. I’m not having a dig here as I do just that. They are a lifeline for a new mums to get out of the house to make friends, or for a mum who can’t keep the toddler from wrecking the house and needs to escape. These groups are great, but they are time consuming and I think that there’s now an unspoken pressure to go to these.

Then there’s the smartphone. Without these we wouldn’t feel connected to our friends, or be able to let the world know what we are doing on Instagram. However for me and I’m sure many other people agree they are a massive drain on our time. I have no idea how long I spend on my phone each day – probably hours. I can honestly say that without a smart phone I would definitely have more time. Do you agree?

Lastly the pressure to work. In today’s environment there is so much pressure for women to return to work after having a baby. Coupled with rising living costs and the want to climb the corporate ladder. We know that there are more women in the workforce than 20 to 30 years ago, which is a great thing. However saying that it really consumes our time, especially if we’re also responsible for nursery drop off and pick ups. There is now so much positive movement towards flexible working and I hope that many companies start to action this and support parents so they have more time with their children.

So those are my reasons why I believe we have less time today. It’s not a bad thing and they all provide so many benefits too. I would be totally lost without my smartphone or the rise of flexible working, so I really shouldn’t moan about not having enough time. I guess it’s just about time management and finding a balance.

Do you agree?

Claire x


  • Emma

    I know exactly what you mean but it felt like my parents had less time back then in the 80s and 90s. My Mum returned to work full-time and I think she then felt that she had to prove that it wasn’t going to impact on family time, so she carried on trying to do everything because back then the expectations were still very much on the women to run the house. My dad did seem to have a lot of time though and was out most nights with various social things. I just remember my mum always being busy, constantly dashing from one thing to another, trying to stay on top of everything and just running herself ragged. It was those memories that made me decide I would become a stay-at-home mum when I was offered the opportunity. However, like you say we now had different time pressures and smart phones etc are another distraction fighting for our time. Argh, we never have enough time do we? A really thought provoking post. x

  • Karen, the next best thing to mummy

    My mother would say that I have more time than she ever had, but that is because I am more organised , but I wouldn’t tell her that, seriously though, there are more labour saving devices around now, such as automatic washing machine, vacuum cleaner and so on, but mother’s now a days are encouraged to go back to work after maternity leave, so it’s swings and roundabouts as the saying goes

  • Natalia

    It’s an interesting point; I would love to do a direct hour comparison with a day in the life of my mum with a small child!

    Re the inclusion of bf – agree it is very time consuming in the beginning. But now I credit it with getting my daughter out of the house within 25 mins of waking up on the days when she goes to the childminder as she has breast milk to keep her going before arriving at childcare and having porridge. There’s no prep involved at all. One of the reasons I would recommend bf after a return to work!

    • The Pramshed

      I would love to do a direct comparison too. I completely agree that breastfeeding is so convenient once established, but in the early days it does really consume you. It’s not a negative thing just an interesting point to understand once you become a parent. Thanks for reading and commenting x

  • SwindonMum

    I never understand this question. Parents aren’t an homogenous mass; they are people, who are all different. Wouldn’t matter what decade or era you look at, you wouldn’t be able to do a direct comparison.

    My Mum was a single Mum in the 80’s. She looked after me and my sister whilst holding down various jobs to keep the roof over our head (No maintenance money). She had a twin tub, had to walk everywhere in the early days because she couldn’t drive, didn’t have a dishwasher, shower etc.

    I’m a SAHM with an incredibly supportive husband who does an equal share of childcare and housework. No comparison.

    Oh, and if you really want to know how long you spend on your phone then download an app called Quality Time. It monitors usage and gives you a daily/weekly breakdown of how long you’ve spent on each app/internet browser, and total time. It’s scary! I was spending far too long on my phone…so deleted the app 😉

    • The Pramshed

      Thanks for your comment and I do agree that we can’t directly compare parenting between different eras. Technology and social media has a part to play and consuming our time, and possibly portraying it that we don’t have enough. Thanks for the tip on the app, I’ll check that out, and probably scare myself. Thanks also for reading and commenting x

  • Judit K

    It is difficult for sure . I’m expecting a new baby now , nr 2 . I will try to breastfeed at least I give a try in the first few weeks , than we see .
    Smartphones , well i just need to sit down to rest for a little while , don’t think that smartphones are distracting . We all have things to do . And the worst thing you can do to yourself is to compare to other people . We all have different lives and choices . And we all can decide for our needs what we want . You don’t need an expensive car , house or holidays . You can always save . Well sure if you live in London or around the counties life is expensive , or myself live in Ireland , so Dublin and counties around are mad crazy . But I don’t get stresses lifes too short for getting stressed and worried . We can only controll a bit .

    • The Pramshed

      Completely agree with you and yes we shouldn’t get stressed, life is too short. Also as mums we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, we all do things differently. Congrats on baby number two and good luck during the newborn days. Thanks for reading and commenting x

  • Briony

    I think my mum definitely had more time than me. She didn’t have to work. They had a cleaner and someone to help with the garden. Dad often worked from home and was blessed with a well paid job that afforded him plenty of time. But then as we got older it reversed with multiple jobs being worked by both of them and we hardly saw them. So it’s hard to judge. #fortheloveofBLOG

  • The Mummy Bubble

    I think it’s never been harder to be a parent than it is today (sorry granny!). We have a lot of pressure emotionally and practically which means that ticking clock is such a cause of stress. My mum didn’t breastfeed either of us and she couldn’t understand why I was bothering with the hassle of breastfeeding. I waste hours on my smartphone, it’s too addictive. X #fortheloveofblog

  • daydreams of a mum

    This is such an interesting point. I certainly couldn’t be without my phone to stay connected with people but it is a time drain. Saying that I’m writing this on the post school run train …so maybe even that , a little journey we feel we need to use efficiently that maybe generations before didn’t or couldn’t! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • justsayingmum

    Interesting post Claire. My mum didn’t work so I remember her always being there for my sister and me. She was and still is by nature a very relaxed and calm person so maybe if she worked she would have still been that way. I just feel I’m frantic all of the time. Blogging and social media take up soooo much time – so you’re right about the getting the balance right. I think we read so much more these days as we are better connected so we hear of more opportunities or things that we should be doing. Just some days I would adore to be bored! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Ali Duke

    My mum was home a lot more than I am now. She had part-time jobs on and off, but for the most part she was there. She didn’t have to work over the weekend like I do. Smartphones also take the kids time up to, my daughter is 12 and hers seems to be permanently in her hand lol!

  • Noleen Miller

    I think that the demands of parenting are harder today that what it was in the 80’s or 90’s. Life in general and technology plays a big role as people are more work driven. Both my parents worked but we always had quality time as a family. How they did it – I really don’t know perhaps it could be that they raised us to be independent from a young age. They never faffed over us.#fortheloveofBLOG

  • Kirsty - Winnettes

    I often wonder this. I am unsure but I think the internet is to blame either way. Firstly it is a huge distraction. Secondly it offers the opportunity to compare which is never good. But I wonder if we just think we are busier than parents 20 years ago because we have this sort of information to hand on the internet but they didn’t. I guess it is a bit like a disease: Is it more prevalent now or do we just have better information at hand to recognise it?

  • The Squirmy Popple

    I know my smartphone takes up a lot of my time – probably too much! That being said, I can’t imagine being without it. I think there’s also much more pressure these days to ‘have it all’ – work while also maintaining a family life. #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Emma-EttieandMe

    I know what you mean and its something I always think about, however perhaps advances in technology have evened things out a bit – for example we no longer have coal fires that we need to clean out once a day (something my Mum had to do when I was younger) and washing is easier. But then the need to return back to work is greater? I definitely think the smartphone wastes time I could be putting tp better things and I make a daily pact with myself not to use is as much – but I always break it!

  • Chloe

    Hi, it sure would be interstesting to see a direct comparision from the decades, it must be different as we are 24 hour society trying to cram lots in but that could just be our perception, who knows….. #forhteloveofBlog

  • Rabbit Ideas

    I think we do think differently about childhood and childrearing these days- in the past it was totally normal for older siblings /neighbours/ cousins to be looking after toddlers playing outside in the street which surely freed up ‘time’ for mothers, but then they would have been washing cloth nappies by hand in a bucket or bath at the same time… our choices have changed, I think, and also our expectations of how much ‘time’ we are entitled to. (Sorry for the essay- an interesting post and question- it’s got me thinking!) #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Jaki

    I often think back to when I was little and think about all the things my Mum used to get done in a day and wpnder why I can’t accomplish the same. And then I realise. She didn’t work when I was little. She stayed at home with me when my sister went to school. I work every morning and it’s surprising what you can get done at home in that time. I feel like I’m always chasing my tail! #fortheloveofblog

  • Tracey Abrahams

    Oh god, I feel like an old crone now. I was a parent in the 90’s my first son being born in 1994. With regards to time, no I really dont think we had any more of that than parents these days do. I and virtually every mum I knew personally worked at least part time. What we didnt have which I am very grateful for is the constant barage of ‘advice’ being pushed at us 24/7 about how to parent. We had our own parents to ask advice if we needed it, or the midwife but apart from that we were left to do things our own way without scruitiny or criticism. There was less pressure for sure. #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Aleena

    My mum was a single mum in the 80’s, and as soon as she could she worked. I think it has more to do with the amount we feel we have to do to entertain everyone. As far as I remember my mum was happy to chat to our neighbours on the doorstep rather than having to venture out anywhere. She was close with another mum a couple doors down, and when we were in each other’s houses I remember them both doing chores while they were chatting, thereby helping each other out.

    I also think she was happier to leave me to my own devices. She didn’t feel the need to be involved in my play (although she did obviously play with me!), and if I was bored she didn’t rush to entertain me, rather I was told “find something to do then, you have an imagination!” #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Louise

    I agree that smartphones take up a lot of our time! They had toddler groups etc. when I was born, but there wasn’t the pressure to go every week. My mum worked full time when she had me, it’s only when my sister came along that she stopped working as she couldn’t afford childcare for the both of us. As soon as my sister started play school she started working again and has worked ever since! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Musings of a tired mummy...zzz...

    I hate the pressure from social media when you see all these wonderful activities that other parents are doing with their children and I am sitting exhausted in a corner with an 18 month old thrusting books at me while the older 2 watch youtube… #fortheloveofblog

  • Mrs Mummy Harris

    I think the main issue behind it all is the cost of living. Back in our parents day, thatcher sold all the council homes which in turn made owning your own home cheaper. Women werent expected to work and in turn, they had more time to dedicate to the home.
    On the otherhand, smartphones are the best yet worst thing to happen to conversations in the modern day! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Nicola

    It’s so concerning that so many of us are writing posts like this…I wrote a similar one myself just this week and have just read another that is linked to time and parenting. I don’t know how to fix the issue of no time! I know I have my priorities all wrong and should ditch the housework in favour of spending time with my children, but that’s not me! There are absolutely not enough hours in the week to do everything that needs to be done, so if we could just sort a few extra days on each week I think I’d be sorted! #fortheloveofblog

  • Joanna Melia

    My mum always reminds me she didn’t have an automated washing machine or disposable nappies, so laundry took hours. We also have more access to ready meals and frozen foods so food prep can be quicker.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Spam prevention powered by Akismet