Working mums under pressure over unrealistic expectations about cooking

Working mothers feel they are failing their kids if they don’t cook family meals from scratch, according to a study by Leeds Metropolitan University.

The study by Maxine Woolhouse was presented at the British Psychological Society’s Psychology of Women annual conference this week.

Woolhouse said: “These days enormous importance is attached to eating a healthy diet. However, primarily it is mothers who are seen as accountable for their children’s diets and any associated problems from these.”

One recurring theme that came up in the small-scale qualitative study was the fact that mothers emphasised the importance of providing a healthy diet for their family, but this included practices such as ‘cooking from scratch’ and drew on ideas such as ‘living off the land’. These practices were held up as necessary in order to be a ‘good mum’, says Woolhouse. However, some mothers challenged these ideas by pointing to the pressures placed upon working mothers by “unfair and unrealistic expectations”.

Woolhouse said: “Most mothers want to provide the best diet they can for their children. However, due to contemporary culture the healthiest diet is now seen as being ‘cooked from scratch’ with food you have grown yourself.  For many working mothers this is simply unachievable. This leaves some feeling like they are failing to care for their families properly with the further implication that they are to blame for the so-called ‘obesity epidemic’ in children.”

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