Why do so many Aussie mums feel like complete failures?

Between being there for our partners and kids, running a household, working and caring for older parents, Aussie mums are more stretched than ever before.

And when you throw in unrealistic standards of perfection set by celebrities and reinforced by social media, it’s not surprising that so many mothers are suffering from Imposter Syndrome.

In fact, new research commissioned by Barnardos Australia to launch its annual Barnardos Mother of the Year Awards has revealed that nearly 60 per cent of mums say their biggest critics are not their family, other mothers, the media or the workplace, but themselves.

imposter syndrome among mothers
Image via iStock.

It also found that only six per cent would rate themselves a 10 out of 10 in their role as a mum, and that women were most stressed about meeting the needs of their children, finances, society's expectations, and other people's judgement.

GP, mum and Barnardos Mother of the Year Ambassador Dr Ginni Mansberg said women needed to give themselves a break, especially when it came to comparing themselves to families they see on Instagram.

“[People on Instagram] are posting idyllic pictures of their children looking perfect and meanwhile the ‘real kids’ have snot in their noses, dirty clothes and need a haircut. You can feel like you’re not quite living up to the norm. But the norm on social media is not the norm,” she said.

Dr Ginni Mansberg. Image via Facebook.

“Also, sometimes women can be quite competitive with each other. At the school pick up, women aren’t talking about how difficult it is, they talk about how awesome their kids are.

“I find as a mother all my friends on Facebook only post about their kids’ successes…or they’re wishing their child happy birthday with a perfect cake surrounded by friends and family, while you’re thinking ‘all I did was get Sara Lee’. So you feel like a failure.

“I think if you are on social media and you’re starting to feel inadequate, then put it away. We owe it to the sisterhood to be really honest and open with each other.”


Social Demographer and Barnardos Mother of the Year supporter Bernard Salt said modern mothers (and often fathers) often lacked confidence and were overly critical of themselves.

terrible mother
Women’s traditional roles are in the process of being reworked, which can cause uncertainty and insecurity. Image via iStock.

He said it could be caused by women having fewer babies, which shortened the most intensive mothering phase of their lives, meaning they had less time to learn the ropes.


He also suggested that with many mothers in the workforce, and many women choosing not to have children at all, women’s traditional roles were in the process of being reworked, which could cause uncertainty and insecurity.

“The advent of mass advertising has also set quite unrealistic benchmarks and lifestyles we measure ours against. It is contrived and stylised, but it still sets expectations. The homes are perfect, the kids are adorable, the husbands are adorable…they are idealistic standards,” he said.

“Then there’s celebrities, for example Angelina Jolie. She has six kids, which is no mean feat for a glamorous celebrity. She has hot and cold running nannies no doubt with everyone to look after them, but she still sets the bar incredibly high.

Celebs like Angelina Jolie set the bar incredibly high. Image via Getty.

“People who have children just post photographs [on social media] that show them and their children at their very best. They’re going to show them at sports day winning first prize. They’re not going to show their kids throwing a tantrum with food spilled on the new couch. It’s unrealistic.”

Both Salt and Mansberg agreed that women’s perception of themselves bore no resemblance to the terrific job they were actually doing.

Now in its 21st year, Barnardos Mother of the Year is the largest and most recognised campaign celebrating mothers and all that they do for family and children. Do you know an awesome mum? Nominate them here now.

Do you suffer from Imposter Syndrome? 

WATCH how to beat Imposter Syndrome:

Video via Sunrise