What did I learn yesterday 1st October?

1) Sometimes there just isn’t the opportunity to write a post.

Yesterday flew by so didn’t get a chance to update my blog.

2) Still thinking a lot about the article I mentioned in my previous post.

The article on the BBC website is entitled “Working mothers’ children unfit” and talks about a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The main finding of The Institute of Child Health study of more than 12,500 five-year-olds is that those with working mothers are less active and more likely to eat unhealthy food.

“They found that five-year-olds whose mothers worked part-time or full-time were more likely to primarily consume sweetened drinks between meals.

They used their computers or watched television for at least two hours a day compared to the children of “stay at home” mothers who spent less than two hours on these activities.

They were also more likely to be driven to school compared to the children of “stay at home” mothers who tended to walk or cycle. ‘

I found myself to be irritated by this study as it is touching a raw nerve right now. I will be going to meet my boss on Monday to discuss when I go back to work and what my options are in terms of part-time or full-time hours. This topic is, therefore, very much top of mind for me.  I was very interested to read the comments left by readers in the “Have your say” debate on the website.  I had imagined that most people would share my irritation with yet another study adding to mummy guilt but I was surprised to hear various view points.  A quick summary shows these five camps:

a) working mums annoyed by the inference they are doing a crap job

Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Never mind the fact that most of us don’t have the luxury of choice in the matter. Thanks for reporting this so widely and making my commute to work just a little bit more rubbish today, BBC.
Debbie Newton, Leeds, UK

b) working mums who say they only go back to work for financial reasons

I almost wish we could go back to the days when the mother was expected to stay at home, and the father provide. Sadly, this isn’t financially possible in my case.
Hannah Steward, Oldbury, UK

c) people asking why report only cites working mums and not dads as the problem

Well this story is of no surprise. But why should it be mothers who stay at home? Surely in these days of equality fathers should be discussed as well.

N Bair, Glossop, UK

d) people saying they were brought up by working mums and turned out fine

My mother and father were blue collar and both worked full time. Weekends were all we had together. They gave me comfort and the opportunity to be the first of our family to go to Grammar School and get A Levels and become a white collar professional. Thanks Mom and Dad

[Confuciousfred], DEVON, United Kingdom

d) people agreeing with the report and blaming working mums

A woman’s place is in the home. Under this arrangement, she can look after the kids properly and make sure the dinner is ready when the man comes from home from work. If there isn’t enough money then it might be possible for the woman to get a night job. In the Bible, Joseph was a carpenter and he earned enough money so that Mary could have a baby boy named Jesus !

Douglas, Birmingham

Admittedly, the last example is fairly extreme but there were are a sizeable amount of people echoing the sentiment that women should stay at home and look after the kids.

Until I had Aidan I had always been of the opinion that women could and,what’s more , should go back to work when they had kids. There was no doubt in my mind that I would go back to work full-time and my baby would go to nursery or we’d have a nanny. Part of my thinking is definitely influenced by the fact that my mother worked full-time when my brother and I were growing up and we had childminders from a very early age. It never occurred to me that this might not be an optimal solution and I was very shocked a year ago to hear my mother tell me how guilty she felt about it. We were looked after by a lovely lady who lived on a farm, had other kids and who looked after us as if we were her own.  My brother and I have grown up to be fit, independent, sociable people. Would we have been any “better off” if my mum had stayed at home to look after us? I doubt it very much.

I think the thing which surprised me most about the comments were that very few women said they went back to work because they wanted to. Most were quoting financial motives for having to go back. Whilst that is certainly a factor in my desire to return to work the main motivation for me was that I like working. Call me crazy but my career is a very important part of my life. I have worked very hard to get where I am today, I find my office and the people I work with stimulating, I thrive on the challenge each day presents me with, I love coaching less experienced members of my team. I am good at my job, it is part of who I am and how I feel fulfilled.

Now does that make me a bad mum? Does my desire for personal satisfaction mean that I am putting myself before my child? Should my job be a mum now?

The bad thing is that right now I am really not so sure I know the answers to those questions anymore…

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2 Responses to What did I learn yesterday 1st October?

  1. DrD says:

    Hi there – I hadn’t seen/heard of that study, so thanks for bringing it to my attention! It’s a really difficult issue, isn’t it? I am a doctor and a newish mum, and am lucky enough at the moment to have the choice to stay at home. I love being at home at the moment, but I know myself that there will soon come a day when I need more and want to go back to work and my career. I am a strong believer that the best thing for a child is to have a happy mum and dad: so if returning to work means that a parent is happier and less stressed, then that’s probably the best for the child…


  2. londonmum says:

    Hi! Thanks so much for your comment. It is really interesting hearing other people’s perspectives on this tricky issue. Funnily enough today was the first day I left my son with his nanny so your timing was great. I have to say I felt pretty miserable but hoping I can get used to it. If it was any consolation, Munchkin seems absolutely fine and was full of smiles when I came back.
    Thanks for stopping by!

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