The women competing to be busy: How admitting you're less frantic than another mother has become a sign of weakness
08:24 GMT, 20 August 2012
I’ve been trying to organise a get together with a friend who, like me, is a mum.
Emails, texts and Facebook messages have pinged back and forth suggesting dates. ‘The 24th’ ‘Nope’. ‘Saturday after next’ ‘Er, any time in the next year’
Now we’ve reached a busyness stand off and neither of us is willing to back down.
So much to do, so little time: Marie-Claire and her children
The reason Admitting you’re less frantic than another mother has become a sign of weakness.
A mother’s measure of success is now about how little free time you have. ‘Busyness Boasting’ at the school gates is as contagious as the norovirus.
Here, frazzled mums wear their time-whines like badges of honour. Just this morning at an under-3s club I had another busy-off.
The mum in question asked me how I’d been and before lurching into my latest to-do list trauma, I confessed how my crush on Mad Men’s Roger Sterling had reached epic proportions. I offered to lend her my series box set, giving her a golden opportunity to strike a busyness low-blow.
Busyness stand off: Mums struggle to synchronise diaries with friends (posed by models)
‘That’s really kind of you’, she replied, ‘but I’m so busy I’d never have time to watch it’. The subtext being ‘unlike you, you slovenly, box set-watching excuse for a mother.’
I mumbled something about having to put the dinner on and left vowing to appear busier next time I saw her.
So why have we become a nation of
busybodies A recent survey found that women are busier than ever
before, with 40 per cent of us only having an hour or less to ourselves
each day. Work, children, childcare, keeping a clean house. But for the
most part, it’s less about how busy someone actually is and more about
how busy they want to be perceived as being.
My reason for dropping the odd
timebomb is an attempt to justify my role as a mum. Since leaving a
permanent job to work from home and look after my children, I feel I
have to prove myself. So what’s the cure Sign up for a time management
course Lobby David Cameron about affordable childcare
Perhaps it’s rather more
straightforward than all that. How about we all try to stop obsessing
about our busyness and get on with the business at hand. I’ll try if you
will, after I’ve taken the kids to nursery that is, and been to Tesco
and put the fish fingers on . . .