5 ways Mums’ lives have changed dramatically

With the Easter holidays looming, most mums are gearing up for some busy family time. But if you think you’ve got your hands full – consider how the mums of yesteryear had it compared to today…



While most people had a washing machine, it was more likely to be a twin tub than an automatic. This involved washing the clothes in one side, then manually moving the clothes from the washing tub to the spinning tub once the washing cycle had finished.

And as terry cloth nappies were by far the main type everyone used, many mums used a “Burco Boiler” for boiling nappies and whites. Otherwise it was the sink or bath!


These days, around 97% of households own a washing machine, and 62% own a tumble dryer – making doing the laundry a (relative) breeze.

And, while not yet commonplace in many homes, an invention that purports not only to wash your clothes, but do the ironing as well has already been invented – so watch this space!




With no ready meals or microwaves, Mum spent much of her time cooking. Meat and veg was the staple meal, with take-away fish n’ chips a weekly treat. ‘Instant’ food was limited to Spam and other tinned items. Households didn’t launch into spaghetti bolognese or prawn cocktails until the glamorous 1970s.


Not only is the kitchen no longer “the women’s domain” but research has found that these days, we spend around a quarter as much time preparing an evening meal as we did in the 60s – and the sandwich has become the most commonly eaten ‘meal’ over the course of the day. Off-the-shelf ready meals are the second most popular choice, with 1.6billion consumed every year.




Much of Mum’s time was spent shopping. In 1963 only 3% of UK homes had freezers. She probably visited the corner shop and the grocer daily; and the local butcher, the fishmonger and baker more than once a week. There were only 572 supermarkets in the UK in 1961. By 1969 there were 3,400 including Gateway, Fine Fare, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Thrifty Mum was careful to collect her Green Shield Stamps.


With around 91, 509 grocery stores in the UK –the majority of us have one on our doorstop. However, a fifth of households (again – no longer solely the mums job!) are now buying groceries online every month. So we don’t even have to leave the comfort of our own homes to carry out the weekly shop.


Entertaining children


As there was no all-day TV and no DVDs, Mum looked forward to 1.30pm when, despite its name, she could leave the kids to view Watch with Mother on their own while she enjoyed a rare break. Andy Pandy and The Flower Pot Men were great for keeping toddlers entertained. For older kids Doctor Who was already a Saturday favourite and Thunderbirds proved to be a F.A.B. hit from lift-off in 1965.

However, with the world deemed to be safer than it is today, as there were fewer cars on the road, children spent hours “playing out” and entertaining themselves.


Yes, we may have all-day TV, tablets and the invention of just about every toy conceivable but with most children no longer able to “play out” many parents these days are finding themselves responsible for “micro-managing” their children’s time.




Most women either chose to give up work or were ‘let go’ when pregnant! In 1960 only 35% of married women worked at all, and most chose to give up work when they had babies. It was still legal to sack someone who was pregnant until 1975. Only 17 per cent of mums who worked during pregnancy in 1961 went back to work before their children were five.


Over 5.3 million women are working mums, and 65 per cent of women go back to work before their children are five.


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