When I was a working mum with young children I found it well-nigh impossible to put down that rucksack of guilt that haunted me because I was not at home every day.
At the time I comforted myself with the thought, perhaps mistakenly, that I was a better mother for working.
I was convinced I was a whole lot better as a working mum than I would have been had I stayed at home.
If you feel like I did, there’s new research that will bring comfort. You may even stop feeling guilty.
Yes, it’s just been shown that the children of working mums develop faster than the children of stay-at-home mums.
Now this research isn’t grounds for some mums to crow over others.
Nor for stay-at-home mums to feel they can’t give their child what they need.
It turns out, however, that young children do well spending time at nursery or with grandparents while their mother goes to work.
On the other hand, research shows children whose mothers stay at home tend to be less advanced at talking, social skills and everyday tasks such as getting dressed.
The University of Oxford and the London School of Economics scientists found children whose mothers weren’t working had fewer skills across four milestones including everyday skills and social skills.
Unsurprisingly, spending time at nursery encouraged development of social skills.
A greater number of hours in a grandparent’s care led to better talking and social skills.
Laurence Roope, a co-author of the paper, said: “Time spent in day care [has] a strongly positive effect.”
Older mothers, however, had a negative impact on all four milestones assessed, such as talking, everyday tasks, social skills and moving.
Though pressure group Mothers at Home Matter was highly critical of the study, it was big, covering 11,000 German families, plus more than 800 families with children aged two to four.
Stay-at-home mums can be interested, stimulating, caring and fun for their children.
But they can succumb to resentment for being trapped in a child-like world with little contact with the adult world.
On the other hand, working mums may strive to make the most of quality time with their children but can be tired after a working day and playing games on the carpet is just too much effort.
In reality there are good and bad mums whether they work or stay at home.
The golden rule is you have to take seriously your role as a parent, teacher and carer and give each of those roles your best shot, without resentment.