Suffering from the rushing woman syndrome?
Moms admit to being addicted to the permanent brink of burnout
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.
DIVORCE MADE ME
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.
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.
I LOVE THE CHAOS
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.
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