A staggering 38% of South African working mothers feel as though they are stretched beyond breaking point, according to new research. Pharma Dynamics polled 900 working mothers across the country, and found that most of them are spending almost 80 hours a week on work and home responsibilities.
Despite having to contend with taking care of housework, these mothers also admit to trying to complete work at home. Modern technology comes with many positives, such as ease of access and mobility, however, the same technology can keep us trapped in a perpetual work cycle. Most people can attest to answering emails at home and updating work on their personal laptops.
Wilmi Hudsonberg, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics said the company conducted the survey to determine the extent to which additional burdens, such as career demands, have on the mental wellbeing of working mothers in South Africa.
“Being a mother is the hardest job you can have, but being a working mother, particularly in today’s society, is that much harder. Between the stresses of work, traffic, job advancement and motherhood – keeping a house, preparing meals, taking care of children and sometimes elderly parents too – there is often no reserve left for mothers,” she says.
An increasing number of women are joining the workforce, but the burden of family responsibilities do not change to reflect this trend. Most working mothers still need to cook for their families and take care of the children. According to the study, 37% of the women polled said they needed more help with household chores and 24% said they would like help with child care.
Trying to juggle all these responsibilities comes at a huge cost. Over half of the women who took part in the survey said that since becoming working mothers they have been suffering from headaches. Some 45% of the women admitted to suffering from anxiety, and another 31% said they were depressed.
The Atlantic reports that the idea of women wanting to have it all still prevails in society. Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work and The Will To Lead came under scrutiny because it hardly addressed the structural problems many working mothers face in their attempts to balance home life and their career.
Forty percent of the women polled said they would prefer to work from home or have half-day jobs or part-time work.
The mothers who participated in the survey were in their twenties, thirties and forties, with 93% working full time. Most have one or two children, and 29% are single parents.