The Triple Burden of Working Motherhood – Bad Behaviour, Broken Heating and a Burgeoning Workload?


Author of Mothers Work! (Hay House, 2011) and founder of the Talent Keeper Specialists (, Jessica Chivers, takes a light-hearted look at what academics call the ‘triple burden of working motherhood.’

Rummaging around my PC looking for the beginnings of an article I thought I’d written I found something else I started writing over two years ago and never quite finished before forgetting about it. I give you an explanation of what the ‘triple burden’ of motherhood is and why it’s an issue. Let me know what you think.

I have turned to writing to stave off the tears prickling behind my eyes. For the second time this week I have lost my internet connection, my son is refusing to go to school, I have taken on more work than I can realistically do without losing sanity and jeopordising family relations and to top it off we have no hot water.

Let’s deal with these in turn. The first time I lost my connection to the information superhighway my husband had been digging in the garden close to the Virgin cables. It became apparent that we have lost touch when my computer screen fails to find red pesto on and to cut a long story short we go without the internet (and our Sainsbury’s delivery) from Sunday – Tuesday. I am not impressed but I get over it, look for the silver lining (no pressure to respond to e-mails and no distraction from Twitter) and spend more time with my children.

Today I am not prepared to get over it because I have a stack of work I need the internet for and I really can’t face another 2 hour phonecall  ping-pong marathon with an offshore call centre. In short I am ready to weep.

It’s at this point I text my husband to have a small moan. I can see him at his comfy desk getting on with the interesting clever things he does totally unaware of my plight. He does not know of the battles with our children this morning. He hasn’t had to coax our son to school; the son who was really, really excited about starting Reception on Tuesday but who now says he doesn’t like all the different teachers (he has two who job-share but now a third has appeared) so doesn’t want to go. And who can blame him when powerful captains of industry won’t entertain women jobsharers? Neither has my husband had to drop his daughter at the childminder with tears in her eyes (I know she gets over this very quickly so am not dealing with guilt on that front as well this morning). And my husband certainly hasn’t had to worry about getting dirty school uniform or sort out what we’re eating for lunch and dinner.

Then I remember something I read whilst researching my book on working mothers: The Triple Burden. What I’ve told you about my life is the ‘triple burden’ in action – women earning, looking after the children and getting on with the domestic stuff. I don’t claim to handle the triple burden without moaning or occasionally sniping at my husband but I do get on with it as so many women do all across the world every day of the year.

To all of you I say, you deserve a medal.

Jessica Chivers is the author, Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work (Hay House, 2011). “This is THE book employers should be giving all their women returners.” Professor Karen Pine.

Follow Jessica on Twitter @jesschivers and The Talent Keeper Specialists @TalentKeepersUK – helping employees support female talent. – resources for women in career transition and the place to contact Jessica about coaching.01727 856169

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