Suf­fer­ing from the rush­ing woman syn­drome?

Moms ad­mit to be­ing ad­dicted to the per­ma­nent brink of burnout

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SADIE NI­CHOLAS

MOTH­ERS have never been busier – fact. Not only are they of­ten ex­pected to be the bread­win­ner, when they’re not work­ing they’re still shoul­der­ing most of the bur­den of child­care, while mi­cro-man­ag­ing the fam­ily di­ary and try­ing to pur­sue in­ter­ests of their own.

A bio­chemist has coined the phrase “Rush­ing woman syn­drome” to de­scribe women per­ma­nently on the brink of burnout.

Here, two moms who freely ad­mit they are ad­dicted to be­ing busy, and av­er­age more than 100 hours a week at the coal­face of work, motherhood and hob­bies, re­late why they sim­ply refuse to take a rest.


Vic­to­ria Bolden, 46, is a teacher. She is di­vorced with four chil­dren, Henry, 17, Char­lie, 14, and 10-year-old twins Philippa and Gabrielle. She has been with her boyfriend Andrew, a 50-year-old re­cruit­ment con­sul­tant, for 18 months. Vic­to­ria says: Dur­ing the painful af­ter­math of my hus­band leav­ing me, I re­solved to keep my­self and my four chil­dren ex­tra busy with ac­tiv­i­ties to en­joy, which I spread across two diaries: one pa­per and one elec­tronic.

So, slot­ted around work­ing full-time as a teacher, I was taxi-ing the chil­dren hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres a month to flute and sax­o­phone lessons, cricket, foot­ball and ath­let­ics clubs, air cadets, choir, street­dance classes, gym­nas­tics and orches­tra prac­tice.

I also fit in weekly classes of Zumba and PiYo – a com­bi­na­tion of yoga and pi­lates – and a monthly book club.

Twice a month I host din­ner par­ties for groups of up to 14 friends, al­ways with at least three cour­ses.

Dur­ing school breaks I “dog sit” for a friend, and I’m just putting the fin­ish­ing touches to a planned two-week hol­i­day with the kids to Philadel­phia, Bal­ti­more and New York this sum­mer.

Friends ask me all the time, “How do you do it?” And some de­scribe me as be­ing a re­al­life Won­der Woman. But be­ing busy comes nat­u­rally to me.

Daily sched­ule:

6.30am: Get kids up and show­ered. 7am: Break­fast / make three packed lunches / feed fam­ily pets – bearded dragon lizard and ham­ster / get phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and gym kits ready. 8am: Drop twins at break­fast club. 8.30am-3.30pm: Teach­ing. 3.45pm: Eye­brows threaded. 4.30pm: Col­lect twins from af­ter­school gym­nas­tics club. 4.45pm: Make din­ner while help­ing girls with home­work. 6pm: Eat din­ner. 6.30pm: Take Char­lie to air cadets. 7pm: Lis­ten to girls’ read­ing and put them to bed. 8pm-8.45pm: Zumba class while el­dest son Henry babysits, or the girls come too and do colour­ing-in at the back of the hall. 9pm: Shower and change. 9.30pm: Col­lect Char­lie from the air cadets. 10pm: Lis­ten to a de­brief from Henry on his singing and driv­ing lessons that day. Same daily sched­ule, then… 3.30pm: Twins’ choir prac­tice. 4pm: Char­lie’s band prac­tice. 4.30pm: Col­lect girls and Char­lie. 6.30pm: Take Henry to ath­let­ics train­ing at Sand­hurst. 8pm: Col­lect Henry. 8.15pm-10pm: Book club. 4.30pm: Col­lect the girls from flute les­son and Char­lie from his sax­o­phone les­son. 5pm-5.30pm: Pre­pare early tea for the girls. 5.45pm: Take girls to danc­ing class. 6.30pm: Col­lect girls. 7pm: Pre­pare the tea for Char­lie and Henry. 7.30pm: Date night in a lo­cal pub. Ei­ther Henry or Char­lie will look af­ter the girls. 4.30pm: Give blood. 5.30pm: Char­lie to air cadets. 6pm: Feed Henry and girls. 7.15pm: Col­lect Char­lie from the air cadets. 7.30pm-8.30pm: Go to PiYo class while Henry babysits. 9pm-10pm: Mark­ing and pre­par­ing lessons for the next day. 3.25pm: Col­lect girls from school. 4pm: Char­lie and Henry ar­rive home and I pre­pare snacks for all four kids. 4.30pm: Drop Char­lie at Cam­ber­ley The­atre for orches­tra prac­tice. 4.45pm-5pm: Pop in to spend a lit­tle time with my par­ents and check if they are okay. 5pm: Home to col­lect Henry and the girls. 5.15pm: Leave for Henry’s physio ap­point­ment. 5.45pm-6.15pm: Take girls to the park while wait­ing for Henry. 6.15pm: Col­lect Henry and go home. 6.45pm: Make sup­per. 7.15pm: Eat sup­per. 7.45pm: Lis­ten to the girls read and do flute prac­tice. 8pm: Girls to bed. Henry or one of his friends babysit. 8.30pm: Meet friends at lo­cal pub. 9am: Cook break­fast for kids. 7.30am-8.30am: Weekly Slim­ming World meet­ing. 10.40am-11.45am: Big weekly su­per­mar­ket shop. 12 noon: Take Henry for hair­cut. 12.15pm-1pm: Do maths home­work with girls while mak­ing soup and a pasta bake for lunch / pay bills for mu­sic and dance classes / com­plete con­sent forms for kids’ ac­tiv­i­ties. 2pm-4pm: Take girls to Sur­rey Heath county show. 4.20pm: Take Char­lie to his orches­tra prac­tice. 4.45pm: Go to the girls’ god­mother for tea. 6.30pm: Leave for the­atre to watch sec­ond night of Char­lie’s con­cert. 10pm: Call at a friend’s to drop off a house-warm­ing gift. 11.30pm: Bath and bed. 7am: Ev­ery­one up and eat­ing their break­fast. 8am: Drop Char­lie at air cadets as he’s play­ing in a foot­ball tour­na­ment un­til 5.30pm. 9.15am: Take Philippa to cricket club where she’s play­ing in a match un­til 3pm. 10.30am: Take Henry to his ath­let­ics meet­ing. 11am: Clean out ham­ster and bearded dragon lizard cages. 11.30am: Portsmouth with Gabrielle to buy para­pher­na­lia for Char­lie’s birth­day party next week­end. 3pm: Col­lect Philippa. 4pm: Visit par­ents. 5pm: Col­lect Henry. 5.30pm: Col­lect Char­lie. 6pm: Cook roast din­ner. 7.15pm: Eat din­ner. 8pm: Girls to bed. Pre­pare lessons, meals and school uni­forms for the week ahead. 11pm: Col­lapse into bed.


Ali­son McGee­han, 36, is head of maths in a sec­ondary school and lives with her hus­band Jon, also 36, a process engi­neer, and their chil­dren Wil­liam, 9, and Til­lie, 7. Ali­son says:

There are moms who seem to be com­pet­i­tively busy, but I don’t fill my di­ary to earn brag­ging rights. I’m nat­u­rally com­pelled to be on the go. My par­ents were the same, al­ways throw­ing them­selves into help­ing be­hind the scenes at what­ever sport­ing clubs my two sis­ters and I were in­volved in.

My hus­band had a sim­i­larly busy up­bring­ing. I was sen­si­ble, I chose a man fully signed up to the chaos.

Aside from my teach­ing ca­reer and fer­ry­ing the kids to and from all their ac­tiv­i­ties, I do pri­vate tu­tor­ing and re­vi­sion classes, I take part in triathlons and the time I play net­ball is sacro­sanct.

I love try­ing new things to save. I re­cently made new cur­tains for the kids’ bed­rooms, hav­ing taught my­self to sew.

But be­ing so busy forces me to be savvy and strict. I won’t ac­com­mo­date any fussy eat­ing at meal­times – we all eat the same food at the same time.

I sit and mark maths home­work while wait­ing for my kids to fin­ish their swim­ming lessons, and I run while my daugh­ter is play­ing net­ball. Even though it’s ex­haust­ing, pur­su­ing my own in­ter­ests as well as en­cour­ag­ing my chil­dren in theirs keeps me sane.

Daily sched­ule:

6.45am: Get kids ready for school. 7.45am: Drop kids at break­fast club. 8am: Ar­rive at work and load re­sources for the day’s lessons onto my com­puter. 8.30am: Staff brief­ing. 9am: Lessons start. I mark dur­ing break time. 3pm: Lessons fin­ish. 3pm-4pm: GCSE re­vi­sion class. 4.30pm-5.30pm: Pri­vate tu­tor­ing. 5.30pm: Get kids from swim­ming. 6pm-7pm: Take Til­lie to net­ball and ei­ther go for a run or do home­work with Wills. 8pm: Show­ers, sto­ries and bed­time for kids. 8.30pm-10pm: Mark any work needed for Tues­day. 10pm: Make packed lunches and get the kids’ swim­ming stuff ready for the morn­ing. 5am: Get kids up. 5.30am: Take kids to swim­ming lessons. I mark home­work at the side of the pool. 7.45am: Get home and have 15 min­utes to get ready for work. 8am: Drop kids at break­fast club. 8am-3.25pm: Teach­ing, mark­ing. 4pm: Meet kids at the­p­ool – my dad col­lects them from school. Pool­side, I mark work. 5.30pm: Home and get tea ready. 7pm-8pm: Pri­vate tu­tor­ing while Jon gets the kids into bed. 8.30pm: Sort packed lunches, then Jon and I take it in turns to go for a swim. 9.30pm: Last-minute prep for next day’s lessons. 10pm: My bed­time. 6.45am: Get up. 7.30am: Drop the chil­dren at break­fast club. 8am-3pm: Teach­ing and mark­ing. 3.15pm: Col­lect kids from school. 4pm-5pm: Take kids to swim­ming club, get eye­brows threaded and col­lect suits from dry clean­ers. 5.30pm: Home and tea. 6.30pm: Take the kids for ski­ing lessons (both of them com­pete in a down­hill team). 6.40pm: Play net­ball while the kids are ski­ing. 8.30pm: Col­lect kids and go home. 9pm: Packed lunches and prep for to­mor­row’s lessons. 10pm: My bed­time. 7.30am: Jon takes kids to school. 8am-3pm: Teach­ing and mark­ing. 3.15pm-4.15pm: Af­ter-school meet­ing with other depart­ment heads. 4.30pm: Col­lect kids from af­ter school club. Take Til­lie to swim­ming class. 4.45pm-5.45pm: Pri­vate tu­tor­ing. 5.45pm: Col­lect Til­lie. 6pm: Home­work and tea. 7.30pm-10pm: Batch-cook meals for the freezer. 10pm: My bed­time. 7.30am: Kids go to break­fast club. 8am-3pm: Teach­ing. 3.15pm: Re­vi­sion class. 4.30pm: Col­lect the kids and then take Til­lie swim­ming – I go for a run and Wills rides his bike along­side me. 5.30pm-6.30pm: Maths home­work while get­ting tea ready. 6.30pm: Meet the chil­dren’s friends and their par­ents at the cricket club for play date. 9pm: Kids in bed. Jon and I share bot­tle of wine and write the food shop­ping list. 11pm: My bed­time.

Jug­gling work, kids and me time can be ex­haust­ing

9am: Ei­ther Jon or I do the lo­cal 5km Park Run with Wills. 10.15am-11.15am: Drop the kids at pi­ano lessons and do the su­per­mar­ket shop­ping. 12pm: Lunch and bake bread and cakes for the week ahead. 12.30pm-4.30pm: Birth­day par­ties/ gar­den­ing / clean­ing. Once a month we travel to meet up with old friends around the coun­try. 4.30pm On­wards: Pre­pare a “treat” Satur­day night meal. 9.40am-10.30am: Til­lie is at her net­ball train­ing. 11am-12 noon: Wills plays rugby – I go for a run. 2.30pm-4.30pm: Til­lie has net­ball. 5pm: I play in an­other women’s net­ball team. 7pm: Put kids to bed. 8pm: Pre­pare packed lunches, uni­forms and my les­son plans for the week ahead. 10pm: My bed­time. – Daily Mail

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