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Has there ever been a harder time to be a mum?

by amanda
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Last Tuesday, I ran a bonus masterclass for FaB Club Silver members with Dr. Suzanne Doyle-Morris, founder of author of Female Breadwinners and Beyond the Boys’ Club.  During the call, we discussed the theory that motherhood has never been harder.

 Do you agree?

During the interview, Suzanne cited a recent report from the New York Times and a new piece of research called ‘Great Expectations.’ 80% of women still said that they did much more housework than their husbands. Only about 20% said that they did as much or that their husbands did more.

Do you ever feel guilty or frustrated because you’re not managing to cook a wholesome meal every evening whilst also spending “quality time” with your children and keeping the house tidy (all at the same time)?!

And then there’s the constant pressure of giving our kids lot and LOTS of opportunities.  Are kids allowed to be bored these days? It seems not – we are so anxious to do the very best for our kids that we are running around organising umpteen extra curricular activities, never saying no or worse, loading our kids’ lives with more activities than they actually want! It is such a contrast with the childhood most us have no doubt experienced.

Suzanne summed up this contrast:

“I remember in the 70s and 80s, my mum saying, “Don’t you guys want to go out and play?” We would be shoved out the door and told to come back when the streetlights had gone on! We’d entertain ourselves for hours, but in Year 7 I was doing poorly at geometry and my parents got me a temporary tutor, and that was considered…let’s say, indulgent. That was considered a good standard of care.

Now I work with mothers who feel that if their child isn’t doing Suzuki lessons or brushing up on their Spanish or doing swimming fetes at the weekend, that all’s going to hell in a hand basket and they’re not doing their job.”

The third main ingredient in this recipe for an anxious, stressed out mother is support  – or rather lack of it. We are living in a society, particularly if you’re a professional, where we go where the jobs are. People have to make very conscious decisions and sometimes it’s a career-limiting decision if they choose to stay near a support network.   I have lost count the number of times my clients have told me that they don’t have the support of family because of geographical distance.

There is no panacea to all of this; it’s a multi-layered issue.  However, as always, there are things we can do to take responsibility for ourselves and our own wellbeing as mothers in the age of anxiety.

This will be a 2 part article. Here are the first three of my tips for making your life easier as a 21st century working mother.  Part 2 to follow next week:

  1. Embrace your Inner Slummy Mummy
    In other words, lower your standards, particularly with regards to domestic chores, cooking and so on.  You can’t do it all and you will simply never be able to do it all.  You won’t be able to hold down your job, meet your work objectives, keep a pristine house, be a perfect wife/daughter/friend and a fully engaged mother who never runs out of steam. It’s impossible, whether you’re a working mum or a stay- at-home-mum.

    Stop trying to be perfect. You are not a Stepford Wife.

  2. Find your own pressure release
    You are human and you can’t keep all the balls up in the air all of the time.  If you are fed up and it’s all just piling up, then seek a healthy outlet for your stress, frustration or exhaustion.  What helps you to decompress? You MUST, I repeat, you MUST prioritise this.  For me, running in the forest with my dog, being outdoors is almost essential as sleep. I can miss a day or two but after that, if I haven’t had exercise or fresh air, then my family need to don flak jackets and steel helmets, as there’s going to be fall out.

    You must discover and prioritise your own pressure release. Otherwise, you WILL be a lousy mother!

  3. Take a wide angled view of your life
    When my clients are berating themselves for not getting all of the tasks done on their to do list, when I ask them to take a step back and look at what they are achieving in their lives on a day to day basis. When they review their diaries or simply reflect on their day, they realise they are doing so much more than they give themselves credit for.We are blessed as modern day women with more opportunities than our mothers ever had. But these opportunities take up TIME, which means something else has to give. Earlier this morning I was lucky enough to be invited to a conference in London – an event that will present me with new and exciting opportunities for my business.  It’s a full day and evening which means 2 nights in London and it’s taken a fair bit of logistical planning to “make room” for that opportunity.  Now, it would be unrealistic of me to NOT expect to feel squeezed that week. And if I then go on to criticise myself for not getting everything done that I’d normally fit in during that week, then I’m riding for a fall!

Look at all the things you DO.. give yourself credit, stop beating yourself up for not being Superwoman. She doesn’t exist, no matter what appearances of others may lead you to believe.

I believe that it really is a difficult time to be a mum and I also believe that the pressures we exert on ourselves or allow others to exert on us are at the root of almost every issue that working mums struggle with.  I know it’s not easy to ignore these pressures and that we have to be realistic and adapt to the times we live in.

But even taking that into account, you only have one life and you know that your kids grow up quicker than you ever anticipated.  So let’s try to enjoy the ride shall we?

I’ll be back with more tips and ideas for you next week.  In the meantime, let me have your opinion.

  • Do you believe that there has never been a harder time to be a mum?
  • What do you find difficult?
  • What works for you that you’d like to share with other women?

Have your say by commenting below. And if  you enjoyed this post, please share the love and spread the word!




{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Santos Moreno November 9, 2013 at 19:31

Today, my DS calmly guided a toddler to the top of a playground slide and then deliberately shoved him down it. Fortunately the Toddler was fine (if shaken), but when I sat DS down and talked to him about what he’d just done, he told me matter-of-factly that he hadn’t wanted this child on the playground. Despite our chat, he shoved a different toddler (much less dramatically) a couple of times more before I took him away.

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