Radio 1 DJ and mum Edith Bowman talks about how motherhood has changed over the past 80 years and how her hands are still recovering from doing chores the old-fashioned way.

IF YOU think it’s hard being a mum today, just imagine what it was like before washing machines and disposable nappies were the norm. Labour-saving equipment can make many aspects of being a mum a lot easier these days – but not all of modern motherhood has changed for the better.

While the home may be packed with helpful gadgets and gizmos, it’s often not frequented by the wider family, so mum may not have the help from relatives she might have received in years gone by.

And because 68 per cent of modern mums work, they believe they have less time for themselves than their own mums did. Just 23 per cent of mums worked 40 years ago.

Such is the changing face of motherhood, and it’s a transition that’s being examined in a new Procter and Gamble campaign fronted by Radio 1 DJ and mother-of-one Edith Bowman.

The chirpy Scot, whose son, Rudy, is two years old, says: “As a working mum, I know how hard it can be to juggle the demands of home life, and the pressure of trying to be a great mum. I am hugely appreciative of the support networks I have of my mum and friends and put a huge amount of value on these relationships.”

The P&G Changing Face of Motherhood report, which looks at changes from the Thirties to the present day, found that, like Edith, today’s young mums place great value on their own mothers.

In fact, 47 per cent of mums say their mum is their most valued source of advice and support, and 20 per cent of them say living closer to her is the single most important thing that would improve their quality of life.

While Edith lives with her partner, Tom Smith, lead singer of The Editors, in London, her mum and dad still live in Scotland, and Tom’s parents live in Gloucestershire.

Edith, 37, says: “In the past, your whole family lived within a couple of streets of each other, so you had an instant close network of people to turn to. I really envy people who have their family close by. But our families are brilliant, all of them. I’d be lost without them helping out.”

More than a third of mums (34 per cent) believe that today they have less time for themselves than their mothers did, and the majority of them have just three to four hours to themselves a week.

More than half (64 per cent) put this down to going out to work, while 29 per cent said the pressure to be a perfect mother meant they had less ‘metime’.

Edith says: “I try to do too much, whether I’m working or at home. I can always find things to do – it’s all connected to the idea of being a perfect mum. Like all mums, I’m sure I’d benefit from having a bit of me-time occasionally.”

The Changing Face of Motherhood survey, carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre, found that today’s young mums see the Seventies and Eighties as the decades they would most like to have brought their babies up, because they perceive them as being less pressured. The Thirties and Forties were seen as the worst time to bring up a family.

“I can’t think where they found time for themselves in past generations,” says Edith. “But when I think back to my gran and my grandad’s sister, who I spent a lot of time with as a child, they were always totally on top of things and everything was pristine, clean and shiny and ready when it was supposed to be ready. Back then, you never complained, you just got on with it.”

Nevertheless, as part of the study, Edith did household chores with equipment available in the Thirties.

That meant she used carbolic soap and washboards instead of a washing machine and soap powder, and cleaned the floor with lemon juice and baking soda.

“I didn’t do my entire washload with a washboard and carbolic soap – I think I’d still be doing it now if I had,” she laughs. “My hands are still recovering from the amount I did. It was so time-consuming and so tiring.

I just can’t see where mums in those days got the time to do everything.

“We all have this romantic notion of what it was like back then, but the research found that a lot of people thought that was the worst period to be a mum.”

Mature beauties

TO celebrate Woman’s Weekly’s centenary year, the magazine unveiled a series of specially commissioned photographic portraits of inspirational older women from the North of England, exhibited as part of the Infinite Variety photographic collection, created and curated by actress Dame Harriet Walter.

Editor Diane Kenwood explains: “As a society we have become so conditioned to believe that only youthfulness can be considered truly beautiful, that we have lost sight of the richness, individuality and singular loveliness of older faces and the experiences they reflect. Over the course of the year, we will be adding 100 portraits to Harriet’s original collection.”

Women included in the opening lineup include Julie Brayshaw, 50, from North Yorkshire. Julie had major surgery last July for skin cancer, concluding in over 35 stitches in her nose, cheek and side of her face. She particularly wanted to be part of the project to publicise the “Skin, Sun, Protection” campaign against cancer.

Diana Sanderson, 62, from Durham City, is also included in the exhibition.

Diana was born with spina bifida and her parents were told she wouldn’t survive beyond three days and that if she did she would be “a cabbage”. She graduated from the University of Manchester, has worked as a probation officer all her life, has been married for 38 years and has two sons and three grandchildren. Diane has had breast cancer twice, undergoing a mastectomy on the second occasion. In 2008, she was voted as one of four Catholic Women of the Year.

The Woman’s Weekly Infinite Variety exhibition will grow as it travels around the UK and women are still invited to nominate themselves – or their female friends and relatives – to be included in the project.

Just provide a photograph of yourself or the woman you would like to nominate (with their permission) and provide a simple 100-word description of why you/they deserve to be included.

Nominations can either be posted to Mary Bird, Woman’s Weekly Photo Competition, IPC Media, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SU; or emailed to The closing date is April 20.

Speak up, ladies...

RESEARCH shows that more and more brides are opting to stand up and speak at their own receptions, and more brides’ mothers are also taking centre stage. So PR advisor Sue Campbell is offering a service aimed at helping brides and their mums deliver a knock-out speech on the big day.

Sue, who lives in Gainford near Darlington, is director of Media Messages, a PR and media relations company, and is a public speaker and compere. She also gave the main speech at her own daughter’s wedding 18 months ago.

“Speaking in public is always a nerve-wracking thing to do, even if you are used to it,” she says. “Many brides and their mums now like to be part of the process, and if you can do it with confidence you can make it a real highlight of the day – and beat the men at what traditionally has been their own game.”

Sue finds out what brides or mums want to say, helps write the speech for them and coaches them in public speaking. She has even helped people write their wedding vows.

She has also teamed up with a local hotel and well-known wedding venue – the Morritt, at Greta Bridge, near Barnard Castle – to offer the speech service to brides who have already booked their weddings there.

􀁧 Sue can be contacted on Tel: 07973-367004.