If you feel tired, overwhelmed and responsible for EVERYTHING, both at work and at home, we get you. Working mom exhaustion is common and yet the only advice we get is to do less. In this podcast episode, we tackle the causes as well as practical things you can do to solve it.
Have you ever seen this Amazon Echo commercial where mom plans out dad’s entire day?
Mom kisses Dad good-bye and heads out the door. Baby stays with him.
You think… Wow, so progressive.
Throughout the day, the Echo chirps little reminders for Dad.
Dad and baby are sitting calmly in the chair.
Ding Ding. The Echo chirps in. “Here’s your reminder, Laura says the teething ring is in the freezer.”
Almost on cue, the baby starts crying. Not only can mom work a full-day, but she can also predict baby’s needs to the second.
When dad sits down, beep beep “Laura scheduled a playdate for 3pm.”
Dad rushes out in the pouring rain to the playdate. They come home, settle down, exhausted.
Chirp Chirp: “I’m reminding you, Laura loves you. And you’re doing a great job”.
Ok… WAIT. Lemme get this straight…
Not only does Dad need his whole day planned, but he also needs constant encouragement and praise in the raising of his children?!?
You might think I’m being harsh, but seriously, WHAT. IS. THIS?
And this is considered one of the “good ads.”
What kind of expectations is this ad putting on working mothers?
No wonder we’re all exhausted.
Working Mom exhaustion and shame has increased
This current global crisis has thrown everyone for a loop.
We can see now the disparity in our health care, the income gaps that throw families into crisis, and also the gender roles still at play in society.
When we all were forced home – even in two parent households – childcare again fell on women.
Many dads were willing to help – but found it hard to adjust work obligations.
In a recent Washington Post article, writer Kelly J. Kelly noted “how American society doesn’t give men permission to privilege child-rearing over earning, even temporarily.”
Thus, working moms take on the brunt of the unpaid tasks in addition to their own work.
It’s making us resentful, overworked and exhausted.
How can we make changes to overturn these gender roles in the home?
Acknowledge societal gender roles
Glennon Doyle’s recent book, Untamed, is what made me aware of the Amazon commercial.
I’d seen the commercial before, felt a little unnerved, but wasn’t aware of the deep subliminal messaging going on.
There’s a lot in that commercial.
Such as, even though dad is staying home and “in charge,” it’s mom who knows the house better.
As well as, Dads need to be told exactly what to do and when to do it.
We see these themes appear again and again in the media. When we’re aware and acknowledge them, we can directly fight them in our own homes.
Hold kids equally responsible for home chores and school
In Untamed, Glennon realizes that she’s sending an unintended message to her kids.
Her son is a student athlete. He attends practice early in the morning and juggles his advanced coursework as well.
She saw her son was busy so she’d let him slide a little when it came to household chores.
“It’s Ok, I’ll wash the dishes tonight. You go finish your homework.”
It wasn’t until her wife pointed out that her son was taking advantage of her generosity that Glennon realized the message she sent her son every time she let him off the hook for chores:
“What you do outside of this house is more important than your contribution to your family.”
It stopped her.
It stopped me when I read it.
I was doing the exact same thing with my son in the mornings. He cried over having too much to do so I always offered to lighten his load and feed the dogs or scoop the cat litter.
After reading this chapter, I sat him down and said, “I’ve been giving you the wrong message. Your chores in his house are what you do for this family. They’re just as important as your homework. I will not be doing your chores for you anymore.”
He took it hard. But, I haven’t touched the dog food since.
Ask for what you need
This is a tough one.
Sometimes it’s the difficult conversation with your partner that can get you all on the same page.
These conversations work better when you focus on your feelings and how you’re seeing the situation.
Such as, “I feel disrespected when I see all the dishes on the counter because I then feel like it’s my responsibility to clean the kitchen.”
It’s said without blame, only focusing on your internal thoughts.
In the book, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, the authors suggest one more element to the conversation: asking the other person’s perspective.
You can add, “That’s how I see the situation. I would like to know yours.”
When each person feels listened to and acknowledged, it’s easier to find a solution.
This is not easy
If you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, it’s hard to see the possibility of change.
Mama, you don’t need to do everything.
By acknowledging the gender roles at play, holding kids responsible for chores and asking for what you need, you can feel guilt free about stepping back.
Resources We Shared:
The best mom is a happy mom. To better take care of you, download our No Guilt Mom mindset here . These reminders will help you second guess less, and feel more confidence every day in your parenting.