The Supermom Spiral: Modern Mothers Anxiety

Over the years I’ve been involved in a number of studies exploring the behavior and motivations of mothers. An emotional and physical ‘hub’ for family activity, mothers are often expected to deliver perfectly on a mind-boggling array of demands.

To quote a mother we recently researched:

"You're pulled in many directions. Your kids want things from you, they need things from you, your house needs attention, you need to do shopping errands, [give] attention to your husband, all your chores, activites and work. There are things you want to do for yourself, but you feel pulled in many directions." - Female (2009) 

To make things worse, not only are mothers experiencing 21st Century scope creep, they’re also attempting to live up to unrealistic expectations of perfection.

Here's a quote from another mother we researched:

"My life is absolutely a fiasco. You don't know what to do first; work, play with your children, provide everything perfectly like a super-mum. And these days people are judging [you] so much." - Female (2009) 

It seems that modern mothers often feel trapped between Supermom expectations, responsibilities and compromises; all of which feed off each other. Unrealistic expectations increase responsibilities. Too many responsibilities lead to compromise. Compromise affects the ability to meet expectations.

Below is a diagram illustrating what I've termed the Supermom Spiral:
Helping to break or alleviate this Supermom Spiral is a big opportunity for organizations willing to embrace reality - so on that note I thought I’d share two tips for marketing to modern mothers:

1. There’s no such thing as perfect. Mothers place enough unrealistic expectations on themselves; they don’t need any additional help from brands and marketers. Give them a break from perfection and try embracing reality.

2. More information, data and facts aren't necessarily a good thing – often they just increase the burden of responsibility on mothers. Wherever possible cut through the ‘data smog’ and explore more emotional motivations.