Diary of a working mum: Why do mothers feel so much guilt all the time?
New research conducted on 1,000 working parents in the UK shows that 81pc of working mothers are plagued with guilt about returning to work.
The survey was conducted on behalf of The Work and Family show, a careers fair and conference aimed at working parents, due to take place in London next month.
Guilt. How I have come to loathe that word. And how often we see it in the same sentence as the words working and mother.
That said, I feel guilty all the time. I feel guilty that I have to work full time. I feel guilty that I enjoy working. I feel guilty and sad that I don't get to spend more time with my daughter when she is tiny. I feel guilty that I don't manage to find more time to make her homemade food more than once a fortnight. I feel guilty that she has to be somewhere every morning at such a young age. That she doesn't get more time to chill out at home.
These are my big guilts.
Then I will have various other little floating guilts. At the moment, I am feeling particularly guilty about the fact that I can never manage to brush her little teeth. She just won't let me in there and I can't quite bring myself to persist.
According to a pal of mine who is a stay-at-home mum, all this guilt has nothing at all to do with working. She is also plagued with guilt. She feels guilty that her child might be missing out on the socialisation that kids who go to childcare get. She worries that he misses out on all the painting and flashcards and other activities. That he might find it hard to settle in when he goes to nursery school. That some days they don't even get out of their pyjamas.
"It's an evolutionary thing" she says. "To keep your focus on the child. If you don't feel like you're doing a crap job as a mother, you're probably not doing it right."
Follow Yvonne on twitter @YvonneHogan