As you may be aware, Mumsnet has just undertaken some research into working mothers. If you aren’t familiar with it, 900 working mothers were asked what they thought about being away from the kids and only 13% said they felt guilty about it.
The research also found that that 48% of respondents felt having a paid job made them happier. In comparison, 52% of stay at home mums (SAHMs) said being at home was tougher than going to work.
I’d be fascinated to see what the figures would be like if the same questions were put to 900 working dads. I think you’d find huge amounts of guilt at being away from their children so much and, from the majority, a healthy desire to be more involved in family life.
While the survey was picked up by several national newspapers, I didn’t find the statistics particularly surprising. I can totally understand that having paid employment increases an individual’s self-worth and financial independence.
Getting out of the house and away from the children for a while must be a good thing. There’s no reason for a parent, be they a mum or dad, to feel guilty for spending time away from home.
This, however, is the point where I am going to get myself in trouble. I think we’re all under huge pressure to try and have it all; the children, the career, the lovely family home etc.
Tradition dictates that as a man I am the one that should have the career and provide financially for my family. I stuck two fingers up to that option when I left full time employment three years ago.
I’ve made no secret of my desire to retrain prior to re-entering the workforce full time and gettinga proper job. In the meantime I’d happily give up paid work altogether if that were a viable option (I work part time).
If I were asked the question, I’d have to say I was one of the 52% that wasn’t made any happier by having paid employment. As a dad, however, I just don’t get asked for my opinion on such matters.