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Working Parents | Let’s Ban Mum Guilt

Amy Downes | 7th May 2021

Do you ever feel the pain of Mum Guilt? If so, you’re not alone! Social media manager Amy Downes is on a mission for all parents to ban those feelings. The mum of two is inviting mums and dads to take part in her campaign #BanMumGuilt.

There are many things I was expecting from motherhood, but the constant feeling of guilt was not one of them. A gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that is particularly prominent when it comes to balancing work with family. 

If I’m working, I feel bad that I’m not spending time with my little boys. 

If I’m doing nice things with them, I feel bad for not being at my laptop and giving my business all of my attention. 

As someone who has always believed a mother has just as much right as a father to pursue a successful career, if that is what she wants, I was shocked at the pressure we feel under as women to ‘do it all’. 

Am I doing the right thing?

I think as a woman, in particular, there is a lot of concern around whether you are doing the right thing. You feel the desire to make something of yourself, but you also know that society is still essentially adapting to the idea of ‘gender equal’ families. 

Shared parental leave, flexible working for all, and a respect for parents and carers in the workplace are all things that are not common enough across businesses in the UK and the world, which leaves many of us feeling unfulfilled in all areas of our lives.

And never have the pressures of balancing work-life with family life been more extreme than in the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly, working from home, while home-schooling and being forced to stay at home 24/7 have had a massive effect on parents.

Using data to empathise with working parents

As part of their Employee Voice 24/7 tool, The Happiness Index asks employees “How are you feeling today?” They’ve kindly shared some responses to help us understand the link between working parents and feelings of guilt in a little more detail.

“Since lockdown commenced in March 2020, happiness levels have remained well below our pre-Covid-19 average of 7.6. Average happiness scores in March 2020 fell to 6.2 and dropped throughout the Spring to 6.0 in June 2020,” the data tells us. 

Caroline O’Keeffe, Chief Marketing Officer at The Happiness Index comments: “During the two long periods of homeschooling in the UK, we have seen many comments relating to the difficulty of homeschooling children whilst working, something I can definitely relate to myself as a working Mum! We also saw that comments mentioning homeschooling are associated with low happiness scores and mentions of stress and anxiety.” 

Here are some anonymous comments which help describe how parents were feeling:

“I feel so much guilt for saying that I cannot cope. I cannot work whilst my daughter is home and feel torn between helping our customers and prioritising my family”. 

“So concerned about having to teach my primary school children while attempting to work. Last time it was awful and knowing what it involved and how impossible it is fills me with dread.”

“The juggle of working while homeschooling is intolerable, and I can’t see a workable solution to make it bearable. My job gives me value and keeps my mental health from falling off a cliff but trying to do it all is exhausting.”

#BANMUMGUILT

For me too, the most important thing about working is that it helps my mental health. I am happier and more confident when I have something to work for, when I am showing the world that I have value. So, even though our childcare costs are higher than my income at the moment, I continue to work hard on this business.

I am determined that my home will be a ‘gender equal’ home. That Harry, 4, and James, 1, will grow up with both a mum and dad who work, who contribute to the home financially and emotionally in equal amounts.

So, on Friday 7th May, as part of my campaign to #BanMumGuilt – I will be making a pledge not to allow myself to feel any guilt for doing the right thing for myself. More importantly, I am inviting others to do it too!

I WILL enjoy my time with Baby James at our music group and if I decide to check my phone to see what other wonderful stories are being shared for the campaign – that’s totally okay too!

If you’d like to join: share on social media one thing that you are doing for yourself without feeling any guilt and use the hashtag #BanMumGuilt. You can also tag @BanMumGuilt on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and encourage your followers to take part too.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to The Happiness Index for their support of this campaign

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