An email came to my attention one Saturday morning that set me to thinking about the role of workingwomen. My friend claimed to be exhausted from her workweek, and I have no reason to doubt that. She is a very successful career woman who is a health professional. She was lamenting in candid detail the list of jobs she had to face on her weekend and the resulting lack of any time for herself. The house was a disaster according to her standards (not necessarily those of our local health department). In addition, there were seemingly countless errands to be run. The weekend apparently stretched out before her in a very unpleasant and unsatisfying way.
Like a favorite song from my youth, “It Seems To Me I’ve Heard That Song Before.” Have you?
Her husband is an able-bodied man and her kids are both capable teens. Well, perhaps I need to modify that: her kids are both in their teens. It looks to me like what has happened just sort of snuck up on my friend. She used to do everything when she was home full-time. Everyone was geared to expect that. When she returned to work, at first it was part-time. It wasn’t that hard for her to continue her role as homemaker and find ways to keep up with the outside work. However, she now works full-time, but is also trying to remain a full-time homemaker.
I think professional women who find themselves in this predicament need to take time out to assess their situation, instead of just putting up with it. I did. I bought my own replacement. Not a clone. My kids and husband knew that Mrs. Ford wasn’t Mom, but it worked. I advertised for someone who would get breakfast when she got to our home in the morning, leave dinner prepared when she left, and during the day clean the house, do the laundry, and be there after school. She wasn’t a paragon, but she wanted work, took the job, and did it well enough.
Another way to approach the same dilemma for a family like my friend’s that includes teenagers, is to list all of the tasks that have to be done every week and divide them up equally, with no one being the supervisor. If the kids don’t want to shoulder their share, they can contribute their allowances so that someone can be hired to perform their tasks.
The point is there is no reason everything should fall on the person who once did the tasks. That was then, but this is now. It’s time to brainstorm options and find new ways to distribute the home workload. Workingwomen deserve rest and relaxation time, too.