The issue of pressure upon women to “do it all” crops up occasionally in the media. Generally, it’s when some idiot journalist hasn’t bothered to do their homework and get some good questions for the female-celebrity-with-children of the moment, so returns to the age-old “How do you manage it all?” questions.
In my mind, yes women are expected to be driven in their careers, run a well-oiled machine of a household, get the kids to school on time (clean, ironed uniform is optional these days), hang out with their friends, be a loving and supportive partner and still make it to the gym, do the grocery shopping and not forget a breakfast meeting conference call.
The real question is: who is doing all this expecting? Is it society? The families? Work colleagues? Or is it a case of the women themselves thinking they should be able to do it all, not realising that they’re placing that pressure upon themselves to Do It All? I honestly believe, against the flow once again, that it is this latter option, and it’s time we woke up to ourselves.
There is a lot of talk in the self-help books available everywhere, about saying “No” when people make a request of your time and/or effort. Guess what? Sometimes you need to do that to yourself. We can’t Do It All. Even if you had a healthy amphetamine habit (which, for the record, I am NOT proposing you resort to), there are still only 24 useable hours in every day and for at least some of those, you need to be pretending to be asleep (if so only to maintain the humanoid facade). So why can’t we Do It All?
There comes a time in your life when, contrary to how you feel in your teens and twenties, that something’s got to give. You know that if you keep giving and giving, pretty soon there’ll be nothing left for you. Sometimes, you need to think about what you actually get out of all the things you have signed up for and assess if they’re giving back to you something comparable to what you put in.
Obviously, work is work and we need to do it in order to pay the bills and keep that roof over our head. If you have no job, I’m going to be sorry to be the one to tell you, but you really ought to be looking for one or taking on training to get one. There. Unpopular opinion for today. If there is not a GOOD reason you are not working (and I’m not talking about not being able to find a job after actually really putting yourself out there for all the available positions you might even vaguely be qualified for and some that you’re so not, or having a disability that absolutely 100% means you cannot work), or taking it upon yourself to make yourself more attractive to employers (and no, getting your hair and nails done is NOT what I mean by this),then you’re not giving back to society. If you’re unnecessarily not giving back to society, then you’re bludging off the system and deserve to be made to clean the green ways between highways and the such to earn that pittance (and yes, I admit that welfare is a pittance and only barely covers the true cost of living, but surely you don’t need those cigarettes if you can’t make payment of bills on time?) they call welfare. Ahem. But I digress.
Education should be a priority to anyone who feels they cannot get a job in the current employment conditions. It should be a focus to anyone who wants a better job. Hell, if you’re bored, go learn something! There are so many assistance packages out there for those who are unemployed and want to go and learn that the only excuse I can see for not being able to afford to learn is you’re in a dead-end job that refuses to pay you enough to go and learn. Having said that, sometimes it takes a great deal of courage to undergo training when the rest of life is falling down around you. That is when you need to re-evaluate and see if the long-term goals you have set for yourself as a result of this learning you’re undertaking are going to truly enrich your life as much as you imagine. If not, then maybe it’s time you re-assessed your work study load (take a study period or semester off and give yourself some breathing space), or drop it altogether and try something else.
Friends, if they’re real friends, will understand no seeing you so much if you have too much on your plate. Plus, with pretty much everyone having access to the Internet and/or a mobile phone, there’s no way you can’t take a quick few minutes to send a friend a text message or FaceBook message to let them know you’re alive and thinking about them.
That hobby you signed up for last summer? Is it still doing something for you? Would your life be significantly less worth living if you cancelled out of it?
Do your kids really need to attend ALL of those meets? Does your partner really need you by their side during ALL those work functions? Are there little largely regular events that you can drop out of in order to give yourself time to go and have that bubble bath once a month?
I think what I am trying to say is: You Can’t Do It All And that’s Okay! Do what you can.
Make others pick up for themselves. Teach your kids to use the washing machine, wash the dishes, make breakfast for themselves. Make a family calendar and rather than asking for babysitting duties from the grandparents, ask if they can attend something for your kids, or drive them to a meet once a week. Not only will you get an hour to yourself, but your kids will get dedicated grandparent time. It’ll be a Good Thing.
Think you have to be the Super Parent and win all those (non-existent) awards? I have news for you: No one is keeping score. You don’t get a prize for killing yourself in the name of Doing It All. What you do get is increase anxiety, increased chance of heart failure, stress disorders and a significantly lowered quality of life. If you have kids, how is that being a good role model? Newsflash: It isn’t.
Right. So now you’ve heard all of my ranting, I’d really like to hear what you’ve done in the last little bit to ensure that you’ve regained a little work/life/family balance. Comment below, or head to my FaceBook page where the conversation is also taking place.