Guilt’s the word for mums

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According to the latest Office for National Statistics figures, record numbers of mothers are working full-time despite having a child as young as six months old.

There are 2.25 million women, whose youngest or only child is under the age of four, who have a full-time job compared with 1.9 million back in 2003.

The crippling cost of childcare as well as super-size mortgages means many couples have no choice but to stick with the higher earner’s salary when deciding who should stay at home.

And in more and more cases nowadays, as the survey carried out by Aviva Insurance found, the breadwinner is the female of the household.

ONS figures show that, in 1997, men earned 5.9 per cent more than women in their 20s. In 2005, women earned more for the first time.

By 2010, they earned 2.1 per cent more, rising to 3.6 per cent today.

It is unlikely to be a coincidence that the number of mothers working full-time has risen at the same time.

In 1997, there were 4.5 million such mothers with children under the age of 19, rising to 5.02 million this year.

But main breadwinner or not, does guilt play a part in the daily lives of working mums in our towns?

Sara Brooks, 29, of Kettering, said: “Definitely, I have a stepdaughter and three children of my own and despite the fact I know nursery is great for them it still makes you feel guilty.

“I think this is probably because most people’s mums or dads didn’t work full-time and would just work part-time years ago.”

Lisa Jefferies-Wilkin, a mother-of-two of Kettering, said: “I work full-time now and I feel terrible every day. My daughter will ask me every day why I’m going to work and how much she misses me.

“My husband had a prolapsed disc which is why he stays at home, it’s very difficult.”

The study of 1,200 mothers also reveals resentment among many breadwinning wives who feel they are ‘struggling to juggle it all’. One in five said they feel as if they have two full-time jobs because they also have to do the bulk of household chores when they get home.

Sonia Mathieson, of Corby, can sympathise with this.

She said: “I had to leave my children when they were very young and I hated it. I’d come home from work and have to spend the time cooking and doing household stuff and not get quality time with the children.

“Luckily now, I work around them, and my time away from them is minimal.”