Emma Thompson says mums can’t ‘have it all’

Actress Emma Thompson has spoken out against the pressure to be a great mum and have a full-time career.

Speaking to the US edition of Good Housekeeping magazine, the British actress said: “I don’t want your readers ever to think they have to have it all. I think that’s a revolting concept. It’s so false!”

Interviewed together with fellow actress and mum, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Miss Thompson criticised the idea that a woman can “keep all those balls in the air”.

Not ideal

Miss Thompson, who is married to actor Greg Wise, said: “Sometimes you’ll have some things, and sometimes you’ll have other things. And you do not need it all at once; it’s not good for you.

“You can’t be a great mom and work the whole time necessarily; those two things aren’t ideal.”

The interview also revealed how the British actress, 51, helped her younger American friend Miss Gyllenhaal with being a working mum.

Miss Gyllenhaal, who is also married to an actor, explained how she cracked a little bit under the pressure of working on a film alongside bringing up her two-year-old daughter, but that Miss Thompson was a support.


“Mags, you have got to allow yourself to drop the ball, because nobody can keep all those balls in the air”, Miss Thompson told Miss Gyllenhaal.

Oscar winning actress Miss Thompson explained: “The only way you can have it all is by delegating all the running of the home to other people — which I don’t ever want to do, nor does Mags.

“So you do it yourself, and it takes time and energy and effort. And if you give it the time, it’s profoundly enjoyable.”


In February it was uncovered that young mothers are increasingly turning their backs on high profile careers and looking to men as the main breadwinners.

Sociologist Geoff Dench, who produced the findings from the British Social Attitudes survey, said: “Women with young children are going back to the very traditional division of labour in which they want the husband as the breadwinner.

“Having tried full-time working themselves they have found the home much more interesting and want to be enabled to have that”.


In October a report found that only 12 per cent of mothers wanted to work full time, while almost a third did not want to work at all.

Cristina Odone, who wrote the report, expressed sympathy for women bombarded with images of “superwomen who manage everything, plus a high-profile career”, when many just wanted to leave their husbands to be the breadwinner while they care for their children.