Kiwi mums worry about time spent with kids

21:11, Mar 27 2012

More than half of Kiwi mothers feel guilty about the amount of time they spend with their children.

About 13 per cent have also admitted to buying their children treats and presents to compensate for a lack of quality time spent together.

In the Proctor and Gamble survey which questioned 1000 women, 75 per cent said they felt isolated and were raising their children by themselves, and more than a third agreed they took regular outings to "maintain their sanity".

The results of the survey were weighted against data from the latest Statistics New Zealand census.

Otago University psychologist Jane Millichamp said "quality over quantity" was the important thing to remember.

She said while it had to be mentioned that some parents "don't give a damn about their children", that most mothers felt guilty about the amount of time they spent with their children showed they cared and wanted to do good.

Millichamp also said life today threw a number of stresses at mothers, and it was important not "beat themselves up" about using quality day care if it could be afforded.

"Again, provided it's not longer than say a normal work day, because it is still important to spend time with children, quality day care does not disadvantage children in any way."

She said if children had even limited time with just one person who loved them, research showed they were more likely to grow up without antisocial behaviour.

"What we do know is if a child has just one person in their life that loves them and cares about them, then they are incredibly resilient.

"They will hang on to that parent, or grandparent or even teacher, who shows them they care, and they often avoid those hurdles that trigger antisocial behaviour later on in life."

Psychologist Sara Chatwin said modern mums were bearing the strain of the 'she'll be right mentality' that has permeated NZ society, which often leaves mothers feeling alone, unsupported and exhausted.

" Mums these days have many hats to wear; mother, worker, wife/partner, the list goes on.

"There are so many pressures associated with melding all these tasks together and doing them well. Societal expectations also seem to create pressures for mothers to offer children all the options and again this can present challenges to achieve on a daily basis," she said.

Sixty three per cent of female respondents said the pressure of work and having a job to go to was the biggest reason for having less time.

This was followed in equal second place with the pressure to be an active, 'hands on' mum and a child having more extracurricular activities - four out of 10 mums saying this was the case.

According to the survey, one in ten mothers said they felt isolated all of the time, but 52 per cent agreed quality time spent with their children important.

Mothers also believed they had it tougher now than their own mothers did, with nearly half of the mums questioned saying they have less, or significantly less time, than their own mothers did at the same life-stage.
In balancing a perceived pressure to work and maintain a healthy home life, 52 per cent of women spoke of a need to also take time out to spend with their partner.

An increasing amount of school homework being brought home by children was described as a main culprit in sapping up a mother's time - nearly 20 per cent of mothers said more homework meant children needed more assistance with it.

Despite this, 62 per cent of women reported their husband or  partner assisted with the childcare.