The school taxi duty topped the stress list, with 40 per cent of the 2000 mums surveyed by Continental Tyres saying the struggle to get kids to school on time was the worst time of their day. Of those, 45 per cent said this was vented in road rage with yelling at other drivers. And 42 per cent said they snapped at their children – whether or not they were misbehaving.
After dropping the kids at school, 56 per cent of mums rushed off to work – with 40 per cent admitting their bad moods led to bad driving along the way. “Getting the kids ready for school is no easy feat (and) makes for a very stressful start to the day,” Continental Tyres marketing manager Gareth Taylor says.
“Driving is something that requires full concentration, a frazzled mind together with wet weather or changed road conditions can lead to some very tricky and dangerous situations.” The warning about driving while distracted was backed up by insurance giant AAMI, whose spokesman Mike Sopinski said it was a prime cause in accidents.
“It’s quite obvious that motorists – of whatever gender -- who are operating their vehicles in a stressed and frustrated manner are not paying due attention,” Sopinski says. “Our annual Crash Index research shows that not paying attention is the major factor. Nationally, 48 per cent of the 2500 people surveyed by AAMI attributed previous crashes to inattention.”
Parents should have strategies to reduce the in-car stress, says psychologist Jodie Benveniste, the director of Parent Wellbeing. “If you find your anger or frustration rising, stop, take a deep breath, and focus on speaking calmly but firmly,” Benveniste says.
“To switch yourself out of a bad mood in the car, ask everyone to think of one thing they’re looking forward to that day. “Once the kids have been dropped off, and to make sure you don’t turn up to work in a bad mood, remember one thing you love doing with your children.”
The Continental Tyres study showed that two of the top ten most stressful parts of the day – the school run and traffic jams – were driving-related. “Finding ways to reduce this stress will raise concentration levels and increase focus on the roads, making it safer for everyone,” Taylor says.
Top ten most stressful parts of the day for mums:
1. School run 40%
2. Getting kids’ stuff together eg. homework, sports uniforms 38.4
3. Getting the children dressed and out the door 35. 5%
4. Going through bills and the family finances 34.9
5. Doing household chores 30.1%
6. Getting the children out of bed 29.3%
7. Traffic jams 27.4%
8. Breakfast time 21.4%
9. Wrapping up work to leave the office on time 18%
10. Cooking dinner 17.8%