The New Year is here, and I now find myself preparing for our second year of primary school, a year that I know is going to be a challenging one for more reasons than one with mother’s guilt thrown in for good measure.
Master E’s first year of prep was a learning curve for all of us but with a wonderful teacher and friends, there were many positives. However, the one thing that continues to stick in my head is the number of times Master E shared his disappointment with me that I wasn’t able to help in the classroom or attend some excursions because they occurred on my work days.
Every time he brought it up, it was like someone ripped my heart out and I found myself comparing myself to other school mums. The mother’s guilt was also ridiculously tough. As much as I tried to explain that I had to work, it wasn’t easy.
The comparison trap
“But Billy’s Mum comes and helps in groups Mummy, why can’t you?” Master E asks.
“Oh how I wish I could do so E, but Mummy works so we can go on nice holidays, so that I can buy your clothes and so that we can pay for school.”
But at five years old and when he sees some of his friend’s parents in the classroom, all he cares about is the fact that his mummy isn’t there.
I know that I’m not the only parent in this situation and that I share in the mother’s guilt you feel when you can’t make a school event or volunteering session. It’s horrible, isn’t it?
I have two options.
Option 1 – I can stick to my guns and accept that I have to work, or;
Option 2 – I attend school and either forego a couple of hours of work and not get paid OR shuffle my time and catch up on the work later – the joys of being self-employed.
Neither of these options is great and the latter option, well that just throws a massive spanner in the works. Where do I find those extra few hours when I’m busy as it is?
Dr Judy Rose carried out some surveys and found that employed mothers collectively were amongst the most time-pressured groups in society. Personally, I don’t think they needed to survey to find that out!
But Dr Rose did share some information that surprised me and now has me looking at time management in a completely different way, and it’s pretty obvious.
She suggests that when women implement solutions to ease the pressure like changing work hours to fit the schedule, multitasking, being organised and calling on our husbands as “helpers” we completely distort our perception of time. This distortion leads to “time poverty”, and in some cases, we experience time going into hyperdrive.
So, all those times you thought you were organised yet all of a sudden you realise three hours have passed and wonder where on earth time went? This feeling is time hyperdrive.
In simple terms, although we’re trying to manage our time, we’re merely trying to fit too much in.
The simple answer
The act of saying no and trying desperately to overcome the mother’s guilt will be hard, but at the same time, I won’t succumb to time poverty and have my mental health go down the toilet. Sometimes, even with your kids, you just have to say no, for your own sanity.
The secret to banishing mother’s guilt
As for the mother’s guilt I experience when I can’t attend, well, I think I need to take a leaf out of my husband’s book. Have you ever noticed that father’s don’t experience the level of guilt us mothers do when they miss out on spending time with their kids? I wonder what their secret is? Now that’s another blog post altogether!
How do you deal with attending school activities when you have to work?