Working Mum guilt and why we shouldn’t ignore it.

Lucy Boulton's picture


There’s a lot to be said about having a baby and going back to work.

No matter what means of childcare you’ve decided upon from a family member helping you out, to a full time nanny or putting your child in nursery, it’s something that most likely pulled at your heart strings and brought about tears for the hundredth time since becoming a mother. 

The struggle is real, and having observed it as the hired nanny, I really admired the mums that left me to take care of their baby and do all the fun things each day whilst they went back to a job they didn’t always particularly enjoy. 

I mean, that must have been seriously hard to accept, right? 

Every mother’s experience is completely different, and therefore I ensured I moulded easily to their needs and requirements to enable them to keep the smooth juggling act of balancing a career and a baby all whilst on interrupted sleep and hormones still flying around everywhere. 

Amongst my years of experience, I worked with a mother that sought help from a counsellor to gain a better understanding of her feelings surrounding leaving her baby to return to work.  And most recently a lady that suffered a complete mental break down from the overall pressures of being a mother who was desperate to still pursue a career she’d studied and worked so hard to achieve.

The endless demands from family life almost always fall upon the mother. 

To nurture, to care, to always be there. Yet combine this with a full time job and it’s incredibly difficult to maintain any kind of perfect family life image, which shouldn’t be strived for under social pressures anyway. Also, how is the mother to know how she’s going to feel after giving birth? It’s something that cannot be exactly planned until the time comes. 

This brings me on to the unsurprising recent research uncovered by SmartTMS, which showcases a major decline in mental health amongst working mothers. 

According to their research, almost half (46%) of working mums experience anxiety when comparing their ability to work and take care of their kids to others and over 1 in 3 experience unmanageable levels of anxiety and stress due to the pressure caused by a job and taking care of children. 

So what is being done about this? How can outside help influence the way you feel about your work/child role and how best to handle it? 

Having seen many recent trends that appear to miraculously free you of any sort of mum guilt and anxiety, there’s a huge space for real, genuine help. 

27% of mothers feel unable to share their mental health struggles with friends, family or colleagues, for fear of being negatively judged with regard to their competence as an employee or mother. 

With data like this on the rise, mothers need to know where to look when they feel it’s time to ask for help and feel unashamed in doing so. Having a child is a major feat, and therefore family and friends should feel more than inclined to be a shoulder to cry on and an open ear when mothers feel it’s time to see what’s out there that will ensure they no longer continue to struggle along on what feels like an endless, lonely path. 

By making the choice to search for help should it feel appropriate, there’s a few areas that can be explored and may align more with what appeals to you and your current situation: 

  1. Look into part time work hours if you aren’t already doing this, and perhaps there’s an option to work remotely? 
  2. Try speaking with someone that specialises in the mental health field, but perhaps in a gentler, less clinical way? If you are taught the correct skills to understand anxiety and other mental health areas in a more knowledgeable way, this can in turn see them gone from your life forever, which can only be a huge positive. 
  3. Realise there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. The moment you accept this, the moment you will feel lighter and less heavy from the guilt and anxiety that’s holding you back. 
  4. Everyone is different. Some mothers love being at home with their baby all day, some prefer to work too and there is nothing wrong with either choice because it’s exactly that, your choice. 

Despite the guilt, stress and tears all that matters is you and your family. You make the choices that feel right for you and know that if you do feel that it’s a good decision to talk to someone there’s plenty of help out there. 

For more information surrounding mental health help or questions about hiring a nanny to help if you choose to return to work email me at

This research was carried out by Smart TMS across a nationally representative pool of respondents.