Are you surviving the pressure of being a working mum?
Let’s cut to the chase, being a working parent isn’t easy, whether you’re a mum or a dad, you feel added pressure as you find yourself working two jobs. Your first is your career, your second is your new job, the one without a job description, without training and far too commonly without support, being a parent.
According to the Guardian, research by the Co-op and the Red Cross has revealed the unhappiness experienced by new mothers. Some 82% of those under 30 reported feeling lonely some of the time, with 43% saying they often or always felt that way. Postnatal depression (PND) affects 10-15% of women and is a recognised mental health condition that can be treated.
But, it’s not just new mums that can feel overwhelmed. Sadly about 30% of mothers who responded to a survey by BBC Radio 5 live and YouGov said they had felt discriminated against at work through being a parent, compared with 14% of working fathers.
Spotting the signs of stress
Let’s start by saying that no parent is perfect and there’s no single definition of what a “good mum” is. We can all support each other by sharing challenges and solutions and by starting to talk more candidly about motherhood and work and the juggle that we all tackle daily.
If you find yourself feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, it’s time to start taking a step back. If you’re severely worried about your day ahead or haven’t been sleeping well because of stress or mental health issues, it’s time to start looking at why.
The experts at channelmum.com advise that it’s important to keep an eye out for ‘warning signs’ if you’re not coping with daily life there might be another underlying cause. It can be easy to chalk up mood swings and irritability to exhaustion and the stress of parenting, but if you’re finding it hard to get through the day, noticing big changes in your appetite, or finding it hard to enjoy your time with your family, it might be time to seek help.
Take a day off
Most of us would feel comfortable about taking a day off work when we’re physically unwell. Crawling into work with a streaming nose, raging cold or dodgy stomach? Nuh-uh, no way. But research shows that we’re far less confident when it comes to taking time off to look after our mental health – otherwise known as taking a mental health sick day.
Plan ahead - It’s going to be of help if you can identify times of the day that are most stressful for you and your family. When do you struggle the most? In the morning when you're getting all of your kids off to school, or at night when you're cooking dinner. Sometimes our lack of planning makes us stressed, and then that passes along to our children. So if we plan ahead and we're prepared for those times we eliminate some of the stress- maybe like setting out clothes the night before.
Exercise as a family. Pick an activity that you all enjoy doing, and maybe you can rotate and let each family member pick what it's going to be for the day, walking, jogging, swimming. Exercise has been proven to relax us and help us cope with stress.
When was the last time you had a good belly laugh? Thin about using humour to diffuse stressful situations. Studies have shown we hold a lot of tension in our faces, and a good laugh can help to release that and make us forget about all the things that we were stressed about before.
By employers and employees accepting both the highs and the lows of work and being a parent we can tackle mental health in a much more open way. Crucially don’t judge - every mother is trying her best.
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