Working Mums’ Guilt A Myth? New Research Suggests So

by Sarah Gibbons |
Published on

It has long been thought that mothers are fraught with guilt when leaving their children and going back to work. But new research suggests that this isn't really the case.

The survey, carried out by parenting website Mumsnet in partnership with Saachi & Saachi, found that working mothers are actually happier than their stay-at-home contemporaries. In total, only 13% of mothers who took part felt guilty about heading out to work and leaving their kids.

According to the poll of 900 mothers, almost half admitted that having a paid job made them happier. What’s more, a third of stay-at-home mums revealed that they would actually rather go to work.

Lily Allen was one of the high-profile names to hit the headlines earlier this year for admitting that being a stay-at-home mum was ‘quite boring’. The singer, mum to Ethel, two, and Marnie, 14 months, made the decision to retire from her successful singing career in 2009 but changed her plans last year after discovering that being a stay at mum wasn’t quite what she expected.

‘I didn't realise how much of a creative person I am and that I need somewhere to put my creativity,’ she said.

Despite the desire to work, many mothers who want to return to their careers are hindered by sky-high childcare costs. But, there’s good news on this front. As many as 1.9 million working families will get the chance to benefit from a childcare subsidy worth up to £2,000 per child under new government plans.

The online scheme, affecting children up to the age of 12, will come in from September next year.

But is this enough?

Jessica Chivers, one of our Working Mums Club panellists, founder of career support company The Talent Keeper Specialists and author of Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work, believes guilt is diminishing – but a lot more needs to be done to help women get back to work, saying,

 ‘Guilt? Let’s do away with it! I think in the UK we are starting to move away from the idea that the mother is the sole carer.

‘I hear a lot in my workshops that working mothers are better able to focus when at home and spend more quality time with their children. When spending all your time as a stay-at-home mum, some even admit that it is easy to take your children for granted.

‘However, more needs to be done to be done to take the pressure off at home. There is a wider debate on getting women on board for the "bigger" jobs, but working women are essentially doing two jobs and this is having an impact on the lack of women in the higher echelons of the workplace.’

Jessica adds that more needs to be done get dads more involved, so that the sole responsibility of childcare doesn’t always fall with the mother. ‘The government’s shared parental leave scheme doesn’t go far enough – mothers will end up taking it if fathers don’t use it. Men need permission to use it – as, still now, it is not the done thing.’

Do you feel guilty going back to work? Comment below!

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