Overworked Women is not new

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I was told recently of a new study stating that women did 70% more unpaid work in the home than the male partner.  What a revelation; if anyone didn’t already know that. I question the money wasted on such an obvious statement.

Closeup portrait on the head of a distraught female business employee gripping face with a exclamation mark of terror

This ‘study’ also apparently revealed the reasons why. It indicated that the male child was unable to empty a dishwasher until 11 years old, vacuum until 15 years old, or cook a meal until 18 years old. I am astonished by such rubbish. Are we really trying to say that our male children are so inept, so useless, so stupid they are unable to undertake such simple tasks as this? Perhaps the writer of this study, guessing a male, was excusing the laziness of some male individuals. Considering many males work in McDonalds by 15 years and they clean, cook, wash, serve, follow directives plus so much more, all capably proving they can in fact do so much.

The truth is women do much more work within the home. Even if working full-time they still are the main parent, they shop, prepare meals, clean, wash, iron, run the kids around, pay bills, plus often care for their older parents and in-laws. Yes, women do considerable work within the home as well.

Why? Is it because women have been conditioned by their mother? Years ago women did not work outside the home much; they may have undertaken a part time job but not full-time work and not in the high stakes corporate world they do now. What we are seeing is women working full-time hours, like their male partner, then when arriving home they continue to cook, clean, organise and just do the many things that need doing every day for the family. Why is it that the dads do not do as much? This is an interesting question.

From my experience, I see women take on this role without empowering or educating their family as to how. They too often may ask their children and partner to do things but then often take over or do it correctly when they muff it up. Women seem to fail at educating, teaching or guiding their family to participate in the daily duties that need doing. The reason for this is often because they are so pressured and time poor it is easier and faster to simply do it right yourself the first time, to stop an argument due to ‘nagging’ and to alleviate the need to redo things again.

Until women realise they are creating this pressure on themselves and make a conscious effort to stop, empower, educate, share and reduce the stress from their lives it will continue unchanged. We have so many women suffering depression, anxiety, overwhelmed with every thing they need to do so perfectly; they are killing themselves along the way. This is crazy yet how do we adjust this.

The first thing to realise is yes, although a woman is great, capable and can be everything to everyone at all times, should she? No of course not, otherwise the backbone of the family may crumble, fall or try to escape. How then can women change this around so they can get some of their life, their time and freedom back while still being a wife, mother and worker?

From the age of about 3 years, our children are capable of packing up their toys, placing dirty clothes into the washing basket and tidying their room, perhaps with some help of course. By 5 – 6 years they can also set and clean up the table, unpack the dishwasher, vacuum the floor, wipe over furniture, place all items away including their clean clothes. By 7 years they can hang clothes, fold washing, start cutting food up (supervised), mop, sweep, feed and clean up after their pet. Then it is a matter of guiding and teaching them new skills every month and year. By the time a child is 12 years old, they should be capable of basically running the basics of the home even if a parent becomes unwell. They can cook basic meals, clean up, change sheets, wash, fold, put away, clean the bathroom, and all those other required household duties to ensure the home is comfortable, clean and safe.

I know some readers may feel this is ‘slave labour’. No, it is responsible parenting. I am not saying the child needs to do all this every day, what I am saying is we must ensure we teach our children independence and capability to have these required life skills. We must as mums set an example for our children to understand and see that taking care of the house and children is a joint role not only of the parents but also of the children. You are a family, a unit. With so many single parent households it is even more of a reason to ensure all members pitch in, learn skills and participate in running their home.

Then, of course, we have the issue of dad not participating and leaving most of the household tasks to mum. This is bad parental modelling and will teach girls that the female does all the work and will teach the boys that the woman’s role is to do all the household work. Isn’t this the main issue woman face?  Do we really want our next generation to have this same belief and lack of basic skills?

It is time women step out, step up and take back control by teaching, guiding and educating their family, especially the children. Kids love to learn and help, especially when young. If we start when young it becomes their normal.

Many women express their male partner will not help or do anything. I suggest to call a family meeting, list all daily and weekly jobs and discuss who can do what. If they do not do their allocated jobs, a consequence will be faced. This may be a meal of raw vegetables as you won’t cook for one of them, clothes that remain unclean or sheets unwashed, events not attended. Discuss a consequence, talk about the reasons it must be a united home and the unfairness of most everything being left to one main person, often working full-time themselves.

Tips to ensure a balance is reached in every home is:

  1. Accept that others are capable
  2. Understand you are a teacher and guide
  3. Set a roster for ALL members of the family to follow
  4. Acknowledge they will not do as perfect a job as you every time
  5. Recognise everyone from age 5 or 6 years is capable of small household jobs
  6. Allow every family member to learn responsibility

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