Mothers have never been busier — fact. Not only are they often expected to be the breadwinner, when they’re not working they’re still shouldering most of the burden of childcare, while micro-managing the family diary and trying to pursue interests of their own.
A biochemist has coined the phrase ‘Rushing Woman Syndrome’ to describe women permanently on the brink of burn-out.
Here, two mums who freely admit they are addicted to being busy, and average more than 100 hours a week at the coal face of work, motherhood and hobbies tell SADIE NICHOLAS why they simply refuse to take a rest.
DIVORCE MADE ME
VICTORIA BOLDEN, 46, is a teacher and lives in Surrey. She is divorced with four children, Henry, 17, Charlie, 14, and ten-year-old twins Philippa and Gabrielle. She has been with her boyfriend Andrew, a 50-year-old recruitment consultant, for 18 months. Victoria says:
During the painful aftermath of my husband leaving me in April 2013, I resolved to keep myself and my four children extra busy, and have ensured our weeks are crammed with activities to enjoy.
I thrive on this meticulously organised chaos, which I spread across two diaries: one paper and one electronic. Although it would be easy to concentrate on the children’s activities, I’d go doolally if I didn’t also squeeze in a hectic schedule of my own.
So, slotted around working full-time as a teacher and taxi-ing the children hundreds of miles a month to flute and saxophone lessons, cricket, football and athletics clubs, Air Cadets, choir, street dance classes, gymnastics and orchestra practice, I also fit in weekly classes of Zumba and PiYo — a combination of yoga and Pilates — and a monthly book club with ten of my girlfriends.
Twice a month, I host dinner parties for groups of up to 14 friends, always with at least three courses cooked from scratch.
During school breaks, I "dog sit" for a friend, and I’m just putting the finishing touches to a planned two-week holiday with the kids to Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York this summer.
Friends ask me all the time, "How do you do it?" and some describe me as being a real-life Wonder Woman. But being busy comes naturally to me.
I LOVE THE CHAOS
ALISON McGEEHAN, 36, is head of maths in a secondary school and lives in Warrington with her husband Jon, also 36, a process engineer, and their children William, nine, and Tillie, seven. Alison says:
There are mums who seem to be competitively busy, but I don’t fill my diary to earn bragging rights. I’m naturally compelled to be on the go. My parents were the same, always throwing themselves into helping behind the scenes at whatever sporting clubs my two sisters and I were involved in.
My husband had a similarly busy upbringing. I was sensible, I chose a man fully signed up to the chaos.
Aside from my teaching career and ferrying the kids to and from all their activities, I do private tutoring and revision classes, I take part in triathlons and the time I play netball is sacrosanct.
I love trying new things to save the pennies. I recently made new curtains for the kids’ bedrooms, having taught myself to sew.
But being so busy forces me to be savvy and strict. I won’t accommodate any fussy eating at mealtimes — we all eat the same food at the same time.
I sit and mark maths homework while waiting for my kids to finish their swimming lessons, and I run while my daughter is playing netball.
Even though it’s exhausting, pursuing my own interests as well as encouraging my children in theirs keeps me sane.