Back to work: Why guilt never stops tripping mothers up

    As the headlines today reveal that children develop better when their mothers goes out to work, it’s high-fives all round on the early commuter trains this morning for all the working mums out there who have for so long carried the guilt of Not Being At Home
     New research suggests that developmental abilities, such as talking, getting dressed, going to the lavatory and social skills, are more advanced in children who spend their days at nursery or with grandparents. According to The Times‘ front page, “The study, carried out by academics from Oxford University and the London School of Economics, found that children whose mothers were not working had lower capabilities across four measures of development, including what researchers described as a five per cent negative impact on everyday and social skills.” The study goes on to add that spending time at nursery had a 10% positive impact on everyday skills, while a greater number of hours in grandparents’ care led to a five per cent improvement in talking skills and 10% in social skills.*
     So those who have gone back to their careers, out of need or want, can breathe a sigh of relief that they are in fact not causing permanent damage to their offspring by not being glued to their side, and we should celebrate that. The government should celebrate that, employers should celebrate that, and measures should be taken to make it easier for women to go back to work and chip away at that glass ceiling. Good quality daycare is a wonderful, beneficial option for children, and mums can relax knowing they’ve made a genuinely good decision for their family.
     But what about the stay-at-home mums? Some might say that now the guilt has shifted over to them and an unwelcome spotlight has been shined on their child-rearing skills. Being at home all day with young children can be, frankly, a bit dull. While it’s lovely to discuss the merits of the blue cup over the red cup, many adults have a limited attention span for such dilemmas. Distraction from the mundane is often what keeps us going. How many of us are guilty of checking our Instagram feed with one hand and spoon-feeding in those last precious peas with the other? Yes, day-to-day domestic family life can be repetitive and boring, but for many of us it’s a choice. And if you’ve made that choice, embrace it and treat it like any other job. Have goals, benchmarks and celebrate your child’s achievements.
     But please, can we all, whether at home or at work, just stop feeling guilty!
     *Source: The Times, 16/11/16
     Words: Georgina Blaskey