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Having it all? More like doing it all!

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

With the high demands placed upon women in modern society, many find it extremely challenging to juggle work, family and play. Photograph: John Hogg

London - If you’re a woman under 50, chances are you grew up being told you could “have it all”.

In reality, however, you’re more likely to be doing it all.

Most mothers are struggling to juggle their careers and their families, leaving them stressed out at work and frazzled at home, a survey found.

On top of all that, many said they fretted about making sure they looked good.

They say their lives are tougher than their own mothers’ were 30 years ago, because they were allowed to stay at home and raise their children without the pressure to work.

Of those who worked, almost half said they felt guilty that their career had stopped them from spending enough quality time with their offspring.

This was compounded by the fact that a quarter of working women said they were their household’s main breadwinner.

More than 5,000 mothers aged 20 to 70 were questioned on their work-life balance.

Many of those surveyed called themselves the “doing it all, not having it all” generation. While 54 percent said it was important for them to have a good job, 73 percent admitted feeling under pressure to keep their homes clean and tidy.

Seven out of ten said they still did all the cooking and cleaning, and eight of ten did the washing and ironing too.

Nearly three quarters believed they were responsible for making the household run smoothly, with 77 percent saying they were left to manage the household finances.

More than 82 percent said they were responsible for sending birthday cards and keeping in touch with relatives, while a third said they also took charge of the family’s health and cared for elderly relatives.

With all that to cope with, 83 percent said having more help from their husband or partner would make their lives easier and almost a quarter (22 percent) resented their other half’s lack of support.

They also said they fretted about their image, with 68 percent saying they were expected to keep in shape and wear fashionable clothes. Those who worked said they worried about devoting enough time to their children, with half saying they felt anxious that they were not getting it right and one in three saying they felt under pressure to be a perfect mother.

The survey, commissioned by Asda, also asked participants to rate how optimistic they felt about four areas on a scale of five to minus five: the outlook for the UK economy; their household finances; quality of life and local community. These ratings were added together for a total “optimism score.” Most didn’t feel there was much to look forward to. The average score was minus 16, down eight since a similar survey was carried out in February.

Eight out of ten women were also pessimistic about their own daughters’ futures, with 87 percent predicting women’s lives will only get worse.

Judith McKenna, of Asda, said: “There is an overall downward trend in moms’ optimism, driven by a downward trend in optimism in their household finances and their family’s quality of life.

“Our research shows the average mom is no longer constrained by old-fashioned male or female stereotypes – either within the home or outside it.

“But with these increased responsibilities comes increased pressure – the expectation that moms can ‘have it all’ weighs heavy, and moms don’t see those pressures easing off for future generations.”

“Moms are calling for a fairer future,” she added. “They’d like to share domestic duties and fulfil their own career ambitions. They’d like employers to be more flexible.”

June O’Sullivan, of the London Early Years Foundation, said: “It would help if moms were allowed to feel less guilty about using childcare to support them to work.

“We know that the better qualified the mother, the better chances of children doing well at school and in the future.

“We also know that it is not the amount of time mothers spend with their children that makes the difference it is what they do with the time they have.” - Daily Mail

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