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Dealing with Over Zealous Stay at Home Mums

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 7 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Dealing With Over Zealous Stay At Home Mums

Everyone knows that one mum in the playground who seems to enjoy making all the other mothers feel they're not doing enough. She's always asking people to sign up to volunteer at bake sales or rabbiting on about the last time she accompanied the class on a school trip, and she makes everyone who has little free time to spare feel incredibly guilty. Of course, her husband is a multi-millionaire, and she doesn't have to work to earn a living.

For mums who do work, however, dealing with over zealous stay-at-home mums can be a real issue. It's hard enough trying to hold down a job while raising kids and running a household. The last thing you need is some over-eager do-gooder making you feel horrible because you brought in a store-bought cake for your son's birthday instead of baking one yourself, or because you weren't able to take the afternoon off to help prepare for the school Spring Fete.

Other Side of the Fence

Working mums envy stay-at-home mums, because they have the luxury of being deeply involved with their children's schools and can spend hours going to the gym as part of the ladies-who-lunch brigade. Stay at home mums envy working mums because they appear to have a carefree glamorous life away from the daily drudgery of housework and children. Or do they?

The fact is, every mum has it hard, regardless of whether she works outside the home or not. The problem is that a lot of mums seem to have an opinion about other mothers these days, and not everyone can keep their opinions to themselves.

Many working mums wish they had the time and resources available to spend more time with their children and get more involved with their schools, but often that's impossible. It's when the other mums make them feel bad about their lifestyle that things get ugly.

Shrugging Off the “Bad Mother” Syndrome

Call it the Bad Mother Syndrome. It's when working mums start to feel bad about themselves because they have to work, and it's exacerbated when other people, aka Perfect Mums, make them feel that they're doing their children a disservice by not being at home full-time.

Here are some tips to make things a bit easier:

  • Nip the Mummy Wars in the bud. In recent years much has been written about working mums vs stay-at-home mums, and it seems there is increasing guilt, jealousy and tension on both sides. Invite a stay at home mum over and have a giggle, a laugh and a drink. Maybe Perfect Mum won't seem so perfect once she confides in you over a G & T – or three.
  • Give yourself a break. Working mums shouldn't feel guilty. You have the right to work, whether you need to financially or simply want to have a career. If Perfect Mum tries to tell you what to do, tell her to mind her own beeswax.
  • Be proud of the choices you've made. You know that you're doing all you can for your family, and if that doesn't mean spending three weeks creating the set for the school play or driving Junior to football practice five times a week then tough. We all do things differently, so ignore anyone who makes you feel you're not doing it right.
  • Don't give in to resentment. Perfect Mum is probably condescending because deep down she envies your seemingly glam lifestyle. She might enjoy letting everyone know that she is Uber-Mum, but you are still the centre of your children's universe, even if you can't show up to every PTA meeting.
There's no need to feel guilty as a working mum. You know you're doing the best you can, and that your kids love you. And when all else fails and a school bake sale is approaching, do what Allison Pearson did in her debut novel, I 'Don't Know How She Does It'. Buy some M & S baked goods, put them on a chipped plate, and mash them up a little to make them look homemade. Who's going to know your secret?

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