Happy Mother’s Day…

It’s International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day this weekend. Time to celebrate or take action?

 

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend and also International Women’s Day. A double whammy, if you will. For some it’s all about the cards and flowers, but for others it’s more political – a chance to reflect on what would really help mothers at work and at home.

Pregnant Then Screwed and Women In Data®, for instance, have released a survey showing how the tables are stacked against shared parenting. Their poll shows three in five fathers took two weeks or less paternity leave following the birth of their most recent child; less than a third reported being able to access enhanced paternity leave pay around the birth of their most recent child; and nearly half who had access to enhanced paternity pay were still only able to take two weeks or less of paternity leave.

Mainly the Mother’s Day industry is about both giving and receiving – you have your own mother to buy cards and flowers for, after all, and who gets your kids to make Mother’s Day cards but teachers or nursery workers, who are also more than likely to be mums. Is Mother’s Day a day of celebration of all things maternal, a sentimental throwback in the days of shared parenting or just an elaborate ploy to make other people feel okay about you doing most of the work on the other 364 days of the year? Opinions differ, but here’s a light-hearted guide to getting the most out of Mother’s Day.

Strategise in advance

The art of leadership is to guide rather than direct. Make a list of your top five Mother’s Day things and steer things in that direction at least a week before the big day. If you know that cleaning generally results in more work for you scratch all mention from the list. Stick to the easy stuff like letting you have a lie-in. Emphasise that ALL mothers get a lie-in on Mother’s Day and spell out what this involves in detail to avoid confusion. Spell it out in capitals with glitter if necessary.

Keep it low key

Do not exaggerate the importance of Mother’s Day. The chances are if you hype it that you will excite the younger members of the family so much that they will want to wake you up early to celebrate, thus completely missing the entire point of the day. Teenagers will probably allow you the lie-in on the grounds that they won’t get up till noon and will have entirely forgotten about Mother’s Day in the process.

Romanticise the past

Talk about what you did for your mum in your youth and slightly embellish that to create some sort of sense of tradition, for instance, “We did a complete spring clean of the house.” Don’t mention that what you really did was pick a few buttercups and try to create a home-made perfume that smelt of cat’s wee.

Breakfast in bed

If making breakfast is on your list, give a suggested hour, give them a clock and ask for a menu in advance. If not you could find the whole house turned upside down or yourself being force fed some combination of marmalade and Rice Crispies at 5am and then spend the rest of the day getting the crumbs out.

Thinking about it

Emphasise that it is not about presents, but about thoughtfulness. Let them ponder on that one for a few days, particularly the teenagers and set a quiz to test the results. Use it as the opening gambit for a light-hearted discussion of gender equality at home. Alternatively, threaten to go on strike.

Celebrate it every day?

Discuss whether in an age of supposed equality Mother’s Day is just one big excuse to overload mothers on all the other days of the year by not supporting and encouraging dads to pay a greater role at home. Pregnant Then Screwed’s analysis of Office for National Statistics figures shows that not only did mothers earn 24% less per hour than fathers in 2023 because of the nature of the jobs they are in, but the gap in median weekly earnings was 43%, in large part because mothers are working reduced hours to look after children because caring responsibilities are not equally shared. If Mother’s Day means getting the odd lie-in and sharing the housework shouldn’t it be celebrated all year round…?

 



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