Conflicting roles of mother and academic? Exploring the use of arts-based self-care activities to encourage wellbeing
Mothers in academia (“motherscholars”), whether faculty or doctoral students, are confronted by structures and policies often impeding promotion and movement through the academic pipeline. While research has examined these struggles, such as our own research over the last few years, this study addresses these issues from a new perspective — wellbeing. Using an arts-based participatory study, this article discusses how six motherscholars (including the authors) living in the US, Kazakhstan, and New Zealand sought to alleviate their conflicting roles of mother and academic through sharing online practices and struggles through self-care activities. Findings demonstrated how collaborative encouragement, and even pressure, to focus on self-care appeared to support participants’ daily lives in and out of academia as participants became aware of themselves as individuals, beyond being a mother or an academic. Implications suggest the importance of informal support networks (especially when formal structures do not exist) for motherscholars to reduce role conflict by encouraging wellbeing through self-care.
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