The idea of the nuclear family – mum, dad and two point something kids living together – is being stretched and redrawn according to Matalan, which has undertaken research into how modern British family life is changing to mark its 30th birthday.
As part of their Made for Modern Families campaign they’re featuring real-life families in their latest TV ad after they found modern families now fall into distinct categories.
◾‘New nuclear’ – mum, dad and two point something kids
◾‘Blended’ – this type of family has ‘blended’ arrangements, including multiple parental figures, multiple home locations and multiple connections
◾‘Klingon’ – the number of post teens who don’t fly the nest is on the rise, as are older mums and dads
◾‘Beyond kin’ – more and more people’s definition of family extends beyond kin to include non-blood relatives, friends and pets
We fall into ‘new nuclear’ with a hint of ‘beyond kin’ – mum, dad, little girl, little boy and two house cats, who I certainly consider part of the family.
As part of their campaign Matalan is encouraging people to share a picture of their family portrait on their website, and while there’s no doubt modern family life is changing our family portrait bears some striking similarities to a family portrait of my Dad, taken exactly 60 years ago in 1955.
My Granny and I are both bouncing our baby boys on our knees while the dads proudly hold their little girls, and we are all a similar age at the time the photograph was taken – my grandparents were in their mid-30s just like Misery Guts and I, and BB and my auntie are around three and my Dad and Little B are coming up to six months old.
But it’s there that the similarities end. In those days there was no question of my Grandpa taking paternity leave, and there was no question that my Granny would go back to the job she had in London pre-children either.
As she smiles with her baby on her knee she was probably thinking about what she was going to cook for dinner that night, or what household jobs she needed to get done tomorrow. I was probably thinking exactly the same, but because I was already back at work I was probably also thinking about my latest deadline and how I would entertain Little B while I got the work done.
‘Isn’t it a shame?’ my Granny often says to me about being a working mum. In some ways I agree with her – if I didn’t have to work so much to help support us financially I would certainly work less and stay at home with the children until they go to school, being ‘just a mum’.
But in other ways it’s not a shame at all – I am lucky enough to be a mum AND have a career which I have forged myself, and with the help of BB’s and Little B’s grannies we’ve muddled through the preschool years reasonably well so far.
I must admit it’s a juggle though, and I can’t help but wonder what will be going on behind the smiles of BB’s own family portrait in years to come. Will we revert to how things used to be back when this picture of my grandparents was taken, or will parents have taken on even more roles than they do today?
Perhaps Matalan could pencil in some more research in 30 years’ time so we can find out.
Share your family portrait over at Matalan’s website and on social media with the hashtag #MatalanModernFamilies and you could win £250 of vouchers to spend in the store.
I was asked to write this post by Mumsnet on behalf of Matalan – find out what my fellow bloggers had to say about their modern families here