What working mothers feel guilty about

26 Oct

I have a coaster in my home office with a quip on it that that pretty much sums up my life. It shows a fifties-styled woman saying: “We both can’t look this good. It’s either me or the house!”

It makes me chuckle every time I look at it, knowing that in the frantic moments of the morning getting ready for the school run, I can manage to leave the house without a hair out of place – yet, if I’m honest, I do leave a bit of a mess behind me. Do I feel guilty about it? Not really – only if someone else were to spy that mess before I’d had the chance to get the power spray out.

I have been known to say to stay-at-home mums with pristine homes who drop in for a visit: “I haven’t entered the good housekeeping awards, so there’s no need to judge me.” However, as a working mother who would much rather bounce on the trampoline in the back garden with my seven-year-old than check for cobwebs on the skirting board, I’m delighted to hear I’m not alone in feeling guilty about not having surface sheen and fluff-free floors.

A survey from the Working Mother Research Institute reveals that over half of working mothers (55%) feel guilty about the state of their house – and 42% worry that other people will judge them for not having pristine homes. However, what did interest me was that 44% of stay-at-home mothers also feel guilty about dust and clutter in their homes.

Worry about the house causes more guilt than worry about not spending enough time with the kids: 51% of working mothers admit to feeling guilty about not seeing enough of their little darlings.

However, it seems that some of that guilt is projected onto other people, because 49% of working mothers say they are their own worst critic: working mums feel three times as likely to judge themselves over being judged by their work colleagues.

A third of mothers report feeling guilty for not spending enough time with their partners. Yet it is time on themselves that needs to be a higher priority, with 48% of working mothers admitting they didn’t give themselves enough care and attention.

With all this beating up on ourselves, isn’t it time for the guilt to stop and for working mothers to realise that it’s OK to spend some time on themselves – without feeling selfish. If you can’t recharge your own batteries, then how on earth will you have the time and energy to devote to work and loved ones? In other words, if you and your house can’t both look this good, which one is it to be…?

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