There’s a mythological creature out there. At first glance, it seems like a perfectly ordinary woman trying to earn a few quid, do the best for her family and scratch out a few measly moments at the end of a busy week for herself. Yet, she has magical powers.
She can run the house, look after the children, do a full-time job, remember the birthdays, make things nice for her other half and keep the pets alive. All at the same time. She is amazing.
“I don’t know how she does it,” they gasp in admiration, not actually giving a stuff as long as she keeps on doing it.
She is supermummy – the amazing multi-tasking, nurturer, well groomed (well, dressed in cleanish clothes), high achiever and all-round good egg. And, guess what? Just like the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, she isn’t bloody real.
She is made up – existing, at first, in the minds of advertising people, the pages of popular fiction and, then, in the frightened hearts of men who liked things just the way they were. Then, finally, ordinary women started believing in superwoman too and looking up to her as if, with a strong enough belief, they can be super too.
Thing is, that only applies to Tinkerbell and flight. I’ve tried it – “I believe,” muttered at the laundry, the calendar contortions, and the compromises isn’t worth a damn.
Here’s what I think happened.
Once upon a time, women knew their place. And that place was, for the most part, at home. (We won’t pay too much attention to what happened during the war when they did lots of important stuff.)
Then there was ‘women’s lib’ and they were given ‘equal rights’. Hurrah.
Sadly, though, the happily-ever-after moment was not to be. Certainly they could work alongside men, reach their potential and all, but weirdly they weren’t supposed to give up all that other stuff – the nurtury, looking lovely, domestic blissy stuff.
Worse even. We all know what kind of women have slap-dash suppers, grubby children, and dull jobs (because at least the mat leave is good). Yeah, that’s right the kind of women who simply aren’t any good. They miss milestones, don’t have bikini bodies and never throw parties. Not even slightly super mums.
But the truth is, as anyone who has ever tried to achieve supermum success knows, it isn’t really possible. At least not without the help of magic or special powers. Yet, we keep looking around at all these supposed superwomen who are busy there having it all – tidy homes, supported families and fulfilled ambitions – and asking ourselves where we were going wrong.
Just this week, new research revealed that “the average mum in the UK takes on the role of 23 different professions for the household each week including being the family chef, taxi driver, and accountant”.
Life insurance company Beagle Street found that “supermums spend 32 hours doing jobs for the family each week, and would stand to earn an extra £17,582 a year if they were being paid the average industry rates for the number of hours spent doing each job”.
Thoughtfully, they even set up a survey so you can find just how much you’d earn from these other professions if you got full whack.
According to the survey – which doesn’t include “time spent hiding from children” or “no chance, you must be kidding” – I would earn an additional £11,000 for my domestic efforts.
While the small print says that 2000 mums and dads were questioned for the research, dads don’t appear in the findings or – crucially – the message of the piece.
Let’s just shoot supermummy through her cold heart and work together – parents of any gender – to get the jobs done as well as necessary. At the same time as supporting each other to do as well as we can in whatever we decide to do for a living. Now that would be really super.
In case you care, here are the most common “mum” jobs and how long we spend doing them:
23 MOST COMMON MUM JOBS
- Cleaner (180 minutes a week)
- Chef (174 minutes)
- Housekeeper (138 minutes)
- Counsellor (114 minutes)
- Personal Assistant (108 minutes)
- Teacher (90 minutes)
- Author / storyteller (78 minutes)
- Waiter / waitress (78 minutes)
- Doctor / nurse (72 minutes)
- Taxi driver (66 minutes)
- Sports coach (66 minutes)
- Barista (66 minutes)
- Accountant (54 minutes)
- Judge (54 minutes)
- Gardener (54 minutes)
- Dog walker (54 minutes)
- Painter / decorator (48 minutes)
- Plumber (42 minutes)
- Stylist (42 minutes)
- Party planner (36 minutes)
- Travel agent (36minutes)
- Seamstress (30 minutes)
Photo by Matt via Flickr