Being a working mother is one of the most stressful roles in life, with research telling us almost 70% of working mums say they regularly feel rushed or pressured for time.
This could be due to gender issues in balancing work and family life. 'Unfortunately the disparity between genders remains in many cases,' says psychotherapist Dr Karen Phillip. 'Many men still think that a woman’s job is to look after the home and the family, and while they help out, they don’t see it as a role that they should be doing.'
While many women are working full-time or part-time, they’re still taking on most of the household tasks and child-rearing as well. In fact, men spend around 28 hours each week on household jobs and childcare, in comparison with women’s 57 hours.
Phillip says this is often because this is the role model most people grew up with, but it’s causing major conflict within many relationships now. Not only that, but the continual demands from work, motherhood and life are greater in recent times.
'It needs to be more balanced,' Phillip says, 'and it’s only when we have balance that we’ll have equality.'
Below are some ideas for managing work and family as a mum:
Treat your home like a business
Phillip says it’s helpful to draw similarities between home and work to help couples manage life in a more balanced and fair way. 'The home is like a little business,' she explains. 'There’s stock control, cleaning, planning and the kids. But you don’t have a business where one person does everything and the other just helps out occasionally.'
Communicate with each other
To break down the household tasks evenly, couples need to sit down and talk about how to make things more equal. 'List out all the tasks that need to be done around the house,' suggests Phillip, 'and then work out who will do which jobs.' Be specific and then each family member knows the expectations of them.
Cut down wherever possible
Some household tasks are time consuming and could be cut down to make life easier. For example, instead of spending a couple of hours grocery shopping with the kids in tow, shop online. If hiring a house cleaner is within your budget, then that will not only save time but may reduce household conflict. Saving your time and efforts for the things you can’t outsource, and for the things you value your time being spent on, will help you work and live at your best.
Guilt doesn’t work for you
Mother guilt is a cliché for a reason, because most mums report suffering from it. Phillip says this is, in part, because women still see their role as the main parent. 'Mums tend to want to be the main person their child wants and needs, and in most cases mums feel they should take on that nurturing role.'
'When you don’t fit that picture in your mind, where you're all things to all people at all times, then you feel like you’re neglecting something or someone,' says Phillip. 'That’s where the guilt is escalated.'
Take time out for yourself
'A lot of women lose their identity because of the number of jobs they have to do as a wife, a mum and an employee,' says Phillip. 'Your own identity has to take precedence.'
Using your time and resources better can make a real difference to your ability to manage work and family.
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/working-mothers. Accessed 12 June 2018.
http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4125.0main+features4310Jan%202013. Accessed 12 June 2018.
This article was provided by SuperFriend®, a national health promotion foundation that helps ‘all profit to member’ super funds to promote and support improved mental health and wellbeing for their members, through the workplace. SuperFriend provides easy to understand information about mental health and mental illness, tips on how workplaces can create supportive work environments and importantly, where to find reliable help if you or someone you know needs assistance.