Numerous studies have confirmed that caring for small children is still the domain of women in Slovakia. Maternity as such is considered the natural and expected role of women and is part of the construction of femininity in Slovak society. At the same time, it is expected and routine that Slovak women participate in the labour market, and the prevailing form of employment is full-time work. This complicates efforts to harmonise work with the need to care for a small child. It is not just the country's legislative and institutional framework that shape notions about caring for small children; they are also influenced by the views and attitudes of society towards this issue. The image of a good mother is constructed, and women then try to approximate it when performing their maternal role. The prevailing ideal is of a mother who devotes herself full-time to caring for a child for the first three years of the child's life. The authoress of this article focuses on the context surrounding the construction of the image of a good mother as one who cares for her child until the age of three, and examines how the image of the good mother is reflected in the opinions of women on returning to work and on work/life balance. The data in this analysis are drawn from public opinion polls about early childcare and the reality of caring for small children in Slovakia and from in-depth interviews with mothers of small children. The mothers are aware of the views of society, reflect on them, and many try to fulfil them so that they are perceived as 'good' and not 'inadequate' mothers.
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