Do mums need business cards?

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There comes a time in every mother's life when she realises her name and previous occupation are irrelevant. It is usually about the time her eldest child starts pre-school or makes friends at the local playground that she discovers she is no longer known as "Michelle the lawyer" or even "Michelle", but simply as "Harry's mum".

But rather than fight this loss of pre-child identity that seems to be an inevitable part of motherhood, a growing number of women are embracing it and marketing themselves via the latest must-have parenting tool – the "mummy card".

As the name suggests, the mummy card is a business card for mothers. The cards read something like this: "Stephanie. Mum to Riley, 4, allergic to peanuts but likes dogs, and Mandy, 2, my little princess." They are usually decorated with pastel-coloured drawings of butterflies or perhaps elephants.

Mummy cards go hand-in-hand with "play date cards", which helpfully list where and when your offspring are available to play with other children. Seriously.

The trend appears to have originated in the US, where women have been handing out "mommy cards" for at least seven years. And it seems to be taking hold in Australia, with four local online printing sites offering mummy and playdate cards for sale.

One site (cardsfromtheheart.com.au) urges women to "Show your motherly pride with our Mummy Cards".

"Mummy Cards are the latest trend for the modern mum. The perfect way to keep in contact with other parents. After having your own mummy business cards, you'll wonder how you ever existed without them," it says.

I guess the growing popularity of mummy cards shouldn't really be surprising. The age of first-time mums continues to rise, with the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing the average age of first-time mothers in 2011 was 28 years, compared with 27.5 in 2001.

The number of years a woman has spent working in her chosen career before having children is therefore also increasing. It's understandable that some of those women feel the need to represent their new role in a similar way to how they did in the workforce, particularly if they decide to be a full-time stay-at-home mum.

But there are several things that bother me about mummy and play date cards. First, the need to hand out a card to other parents rather than do something crazy like, say, talk to them is a sad sign of the times.

We are already communicating with our friends, family and the entire world via Facebook, twitter and instagram. But has the basic skill of face-to-face communication really been so forgotten that we are unable to chat to another mum as we push our kids on a swing at the park? If you do get along and want to catch up again, here's an idea, just swap mobile numbers.

Second, handing out a mummy business card reeks of the need to justify the work that mothers do day in, day out. Motherhood is a relentless, seven-day-a-week job with no weekends, no holidays and little thanks. Full stop, the end. No mother, stay-at-home, working or anything in between, needs a business card to justify how she spends her days.

But perhaps the most compelling reason not to pack your nappy bag full of mummy business cards, even if do feel inclined to do so, is that I believe the desired outcome is fairly slim.

A quick poll of almost 90 women from across the country in my online mothers group revealed few would call a fellow mother to organise a playdate as the result of being handed her mummy card. "I would take the card, acting all 'wow, how cool, great idea'," responded one mum. "Then walk away and say 'tool' and throw it in the bin."

But perhaps all is not lost. Maybe we just need to make the cards a little more honest.

For example, mine could read: "Letitia, mum to Hugo, 4, who will more than likely throw a tantrum if your child beats him at Angry Birds and Jasper, 14 months who will without a doubt eat your dog's food and pull every book off your shelves if you take your eyes of him for more than 10 seconds. Available to play at your house, because ours is a mess. I'll bring the wine."

35 comments

  • Maybe though its ok to have a card even if you are not living in the corporate/business world. Does it have to be called a mummy card? Who cares what its called. Many years ago I was a mum of young children (I'm talking 2 in nappies) there was no Facebook, and I had no mobile phone at that stage...I felt cast adrift from my previous life of fulltime paid work and study. I became extremely isolated. I envy the new mums of today that have all these other ways of doing things...they have a chance to avoid mental health problems by staying connected socially. Maybe it seems a bit wanky to some people, but then I have noticed that motherhood is a condition which seems to provoke more judgemental reactions than, say, criminal behaviour, which has a lot more street cred than being a mum. Yeah. Mums should stay invisible so as not to get judged by other cooler mums, or people who are so self assured they would never stoop to anything so naff as a 'mummy card'. Stay in your place mums everyone is watching what you do don't you know... . On the other hand just experiment with whatever works for you and don't let the sneering get you down.

    Commenter
    Noseur
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    May 09, 2013, 8:11AM
    • But how many women in Australia have actually got one of these cards? Three? Five? 60? Yet you've built an article around it as if it's common.

      Commenter
      Buster
      Location
      Brunswick
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 10:40AM
  • We really need to stop changing society to fit people who are allergic to huge parts of it, and start changing those people. Odds are in the coming years it will be discovered that all children have a reaction to certain foods, but became accustomed to them by eating them. The fact we test children almost before they are born these days is probably the reason we think so many cant eat a piece of cake.

    Commenter
    Dean
    Date and time
    May 09, 2013, 8:30AM
    • Guess what Dean. You are not allergic to things because you are:
      - strong? no
      - smart? no
      - better? hell no
      - lucky? There you go!
      It's not kids' fault they are allergic to things. Some kids who eat nuts, or other things, will die from an allergic reaction. It's not a fad. It's not over parenting. It's a shit piece of luck for the kids and parents. You and your children are not better than the children with allergies. Get over yourself.

      Commenter
      Alice
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 10:22AM
    • Technically it is strength of the immune system. I'm not saying anyone is better than anyone else, all im saying is it appears that there is an inherent rise recently of allergies where they did not exist before, No one can pinpoint the answer, but there are a lot of things which children have to be made accustomed to as part of their young development. When we "discover" that they have reactions to certain foods at a ridiculously young age, we then avoid giving it to them, thus their bodies cannot become accustomed to them. Case in point, I used to be lactose intolerant. This was beaten at a young age by drinking milk and eating small portions of cheese. Clearly there are genuine allergic reactions to things in life, but i dare say we don't fully understand the way that immunity in the developing body is achieved. Meanwhile birthday cake is banned at 2 year olds birthdays like it was asbestos.

      Commenter
      urseus
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 10:39AM
    • So natural selection at work, just let anyone who can't take it die out? Of course that does suck when you catch some disease yourself that needs special attention, since natural selection does tend to apply to everyone... eventually.

      Commenter
      Alistair
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 10:45AM
    • "You and your children are not better than the children with allergies."

      Yes they are...they're less likely to die from eating a peanut. I'd count that as better. Presumably being able to die from eating a common foodstuff can't be considered better, or even equivalent (unless one is suicidal).

      Commenter
      Tim the Toolman
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 10:58AM
    • Agreed Dean, I nearly died as a toddler after my mum fed me peanuts so for the rest of my life my parents and I were just careful. Nowdays I hear things like classmates not being able to bring nuts in their lunch if a class mates is allergic. Nice way to alienate the poor kid with an allergy. Even for class parties in primary school I was aware of what types of foods have nuts, and was taught not to eat something if I was in doubt.

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 12:11PM
    • Yeah! Bunch of wussy cry babies who go and die from anaphylactic shock! They should just tough it out! When I was a kid, we'd die twice a week just to keep in practice!

      The huge rise in serious allergies is one of the most interesting medical mysteries we have. Feel free to solve it, Dean.
      :)

      Commenter
      Magpie
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 12:50PM
    • Thanks Alice, as a parent of a child with a severe peanut allergy I couldn't have said it any better (or more politely). Fortunately, most people I meet seem to be a lot more understanding than Dean is. I do however, see it as "our" issue and not everyone else's.

      Commenter
      DebonaireDad
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 2:21PM

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