SUPERMUMS are at breaking point as they struggle to combine work and family.
Some of the most pressured are the self-employed, who go back to work within a week of giving birth.
Most new mums with a job give themselves just six months at home with their babies before heading back to work. But most would stay home longer if they could afford it.
On the home front, women are still doing at least three-quarters of the housework, regardless of whether they have a paid job.
Working mums are also more likely than non-working mums to be rushed, tired and stressed.
Data from almost 6000 men and women, released this week by the Gillard Government, shows that half of mothers feel their health is worse after they have a baby.
But help is on the horizon: the study suggests the paid parental leave scheme will almost double eligibility for paid leave from 51 per cent to 95 per cent of women.
Emma Walsh, director of Mums at Work, said flexibility was the big unresolved issue for many workplaces.
“The organisations that get it right and provide proper flexibility for their workers will have a more loyal and productive workforce,” she said.
“We still need to break down that mentality that you need to be at work at 8.30am and sit there until five.”
Helen La Fontaine, founder of breastfeeding clothing line Top Secret Maternity – and mum of Tara, 7, and Skye, 6 – said reducing her expectations had allowed her to successfully combine work and family.
“I operate a one-woman business, which gives me the flexibility I need,” she said.
“It means that I can get my work done, but when the school bell rings I am there to pick up my daughters.”
FINDING WORK/LIFE BALANCE
MAKE sure you have realistic expectations
REVIEW your life and career plan and work out what’s important to you
ASK for help, divvy up household chores and give everyone some down time in the weekly calendar
ACCEPT that there might always be some imbalance and that’s OK – we are not superhuman
GET the basics right – sleep, eating, exercise, drinking water and smiling
FOCUS on what you can achieve and not what you can’t
MANAGE your time ruthlessly – don’t give it away. Get organised and use to-do lists