Denise Drysdale

Reporter: Georgia Main

The darling of Australian TV, Denise Drysdale was willing to do almost anything for a laugh -- it earned her two Gold Logies.

But behind the laughs and glitz and glamour Denise's marriage broke up when her children were 6 and 8, leaving her with the emotional and logistical challenges typical of single mothers. "The hardest thing for me was going away for work. I used to cook meals for a week -- I'd come back and they hadn't eaten anything, I don't know what they ever ate and I still don't know! But I'd do exactly the same thing the next time I went away because it alleviated the guilt for me", Denise said.

The veteran entertainer's honest confession is one many mother's can relate to. "We all just want happy kids, that's all you want", Denise said.

After three years caring full time for husband, football legend Jim Stynes during his battle with cancer, wife Sam came to the confronting realisation that she had become disconnected from her two young children.

Nine months after Jim died, eight year old Tiernan still hadn't shed a tear. "All of a sudden he said you know it's not fair, I hate life, it's not fair, why is my dad dead, I want my dad. That was heartbreaking at the time", Sam said.

Sam attributes an educational therapist for her renewed mindset in dealing with those ever present parenting challenges. "Matisse would come into my space every morning, use all my things, start to create havoc. She said there's a simple answer it's called a lock on the door", Sam said.

It's no wonder mothers are feeling the pressure. The number of working mums has increased from 55% in 1991 to 65% in 2011 -- the average age of a child when mothers return to work after maternity leave, is now 6.5 months.

"There's the I feel guilty because I haven't fed my children a balanced diet in a few days; I feel guilty because my child goes to childcare; I feel guilty because I'm constantly fighting in front of the kids; the list goes on and on", said author and mother of three, Suzie Botross.

Suzie interviewed Denise and Sam for her book 'Break Free from Motherly Guilt'. "The ones that better manage guilt are the ones that steer clear of all the myths, unrealistic expectations, that society places on them and say well what's important for me", Suzie said.

Suzie's tips to break free from guilt include:

Redefine your values: "Set your own benchmarks and work out what their parenting values are", Suzie said.

Reprogram your thinking -- believe it or not guilt can be good: "It also shows that I'm infallible as a parent which is a healthy thing and I can have discussions with my children, what went wrong and what can be done differently?" Suzie said.

Regulate your emotions: "That's about taking charge of our emotions and being able to in many instances and decide on the emotional reaction to circumstances", Suzie said..

And readjust your behaviour: "If a mum's feeling guilty about not spending enough time with her child, is it constructive guilt, do I need to look at my diary, my schedule?" Suzie said.

While her children are now all grown up, Ding Dong is urging mothers to cut themselves some slack. "When the kids were little I should have been down on the floor playing with the kids, not worrying about how clean the house was", she said.

"It's about opening discussions and conversations and forums where mums can feel comfortable having the conversation and know they're normal", Suzie said.

For further information:

Suzie Botross website

www.devenir.com.au