Freaking out about the school year? I have an idea …
I see a lot of women holding so much. They are holding all of the responsibility with the kids, the laundry, the home, playdates, birthday, medical appointments all while holding down a job. Plus they’re helping out in their kids classrooms, planning their friends birthday party and hosting dinner parties and raising money for charity. Not to mention the pressure of being up to date on the best parenting strategies, making organic food and making sure our kids feel empowered, kind and free to be themselves but also not a total train wreck in public!
And (at the extreme) their husbands are coming and going mostly as they please without much responsibility beyond bringing home a paycheck every month, which is VERY IMPORTANT, believe me, I’ve been the breadwinner and it’s a lot to hold, but in the business of having a family, it’s only one piece.
(Side note: I say “husbands” deliberately here. The same-sex couples I know and work with, very very rarely exhibit this dynamic. To me this points out this is about gender roles, and not who makes more money or gives birth to the children, but if you are in a same sex partnership and feel that you are doing way more, keep reading.)
Although all of our relationships are different, we all fall somewhere on the scale from being in a truly 50/50 partnership to more of a 90/10.
Now, if you are more towards the 90/10, you’re probably feeling a mix of confusion, anger and frustration, at me for pointing it out, and at your situation.
Because I know that you’re a woman who cares about balance and equality, having the light shined on your relationship that is out of balance, is hard. And maybe you’re wondering, how did I get here? How did this empowered feminist end up taking on way too much once I had kids?
Let’s talk about it, because I know so many self proclaimed feminists that aren’t showing up with the same empowerment at home as they are at the Women’s March. It’s a sneaky, slippery slope that many of us wake up in 10-20 years into being with someone and don’t know how we got here.
First, cut yourself a little slack because, this is new territory.
We are really the first generation where having two working parents is the norm, and expected. Many of our parents and grandparents generation, the women didn’t work, or if they did, they were fighting an uphill battle in the workplace and at home. So this is all new! This means that we are going to make mistakes, but that we also have a responsibility to ourselves and the next generation to make some new rules.
And if your job is to take care of your children all day, that is way harder than having a job at an office and you definitely need so so SO much support because the emotional roller coaster of being with the kids all day is A LOT.
Second, I believe that the majority of issues can be solved by understanding this dynamic the haunts most relationships: Women feel guilty for doing less around the house, and Men feel like the hero for doing more.
This is because there are outdated, cultural job descriptions of what it means to be a Mom and a Dad that are determined by our patriarchal society.
To illustrate this, let’s pretend you work at a dog groomer and your job is to sit at the front desk answering phones and book appointments. One day, there are so many dogs that the dog groomer can’t handle it all. So you step in and start washing those dogs and cutting nails.
You feel great for helping out, and the groomer is probably grateful for the help, but part of her feels guilty for not being able to handle it on her own. But the dogs just keep on coming so the groomer keeps asking for help, but has to ask for help everyday because everyday you just sit at the desk and wait for the phones to ring, because that’s your job.
Overtime, the groomer starts getting resentful that you aren’t getting the hint that she needs help. She has to constantly ask you to wash this dog, now was that dog, use this shampoo, now rinse! And she’s getting pissed she has to keep asking for you to help and tell you every single step, shouldn’t you know what to do by now? But you’re like, but that isn’t my job, I’m supposed to be answering phones, I’m so confused!
This is our issue. We have outdated job descriptions that don’t reflect our modern ideals, but until we deliberately update our job descriptions, the Mom will always feel guilty for not doing her “job” of doing everything, and the Dad will always default to doing very little until he’s asked to help, and feels like the hero when he does more than his “job”.
So here’s what I want you to do: updated your job descriptions! Each parent will do things differently. Having a 50/50 relationship does not mean each person does the same thing. For us, it’s like having two distinct but equal roles in a company. I’m basically the Creative Director and Jonathan is the Chief Operating Officer. Neither of us are the boss, we each have our own departments that work very differently and independently but we need both in order to have a healthy family “business”.
This means that Jonathan doesn’t operate as my “house assistant”, only doing things when I ask him, but he is fully responsible for half of the tasks it takes to run a house and have 3 kids.
One thing Jonathan talks about in our relationship lesson in Whole Woman is that when he took a “promotion” in the family business, yes, he started doing way more, but he also got a raise! A raise in feeling closer to the kids, a raise in feeling closer to me (because I wasn’t resentful), a raise in feeling useful and irreplaceable. And like any good company, when I was taking on less, I was so much happier, more creative and more loving (way better at my job!), which is really what my family needed: a playful, happy mom.
My invitation for you today is this:
Write down every single task you do for the house, the kids and your marriage. Then write the name next to each thing of who currently does it.
Take some time to write your own ideal job description. Ask your partner to do the same.
Now go through that task list again and reassign who is responsible for each task.
If you don’t feel like going through this whole thing right now, a great thing to start with is to have your husband make the lunches everyday. Jonathan gets up at 4:30am everyday to make all three lunches and then heads to the gym and is at work by 7:30am. So if he can do it, anyone can.
In Whole Woman, Jonathan and I teach a whole lesson breaking down WHY women take on too much, how our lack of self-worth is unconsciously tied to doing more, why it’s so important for men to shift how they view their role, and the exact responsibilities it takes us to run our home.
We also talk about why it’s so important for men to do personal growth and how to start that process even if there’s a ton of resistance.
I’ll be opening the doors to Whole Woman soon so if you’re interested in deepening in this area, click the link below to join the waitlist. You’ll be the first to know when the doors open (before I raise the price in the fall):
Remember, this is all new, and I really do believe that this is some of the most important work of our generation. We are making strides on a political (we’ve never had so many women running for president!) and financial scale, but until we make big changes at home, women will always be too exhausted, overwhelmed and resentful to make a positive impact in the world.
It’s ok to feel angry and resentful, but real healing will come when we identify that we’ve all been operating from outdated job descriptions and agreements, and we have the opportunity to re-write how we do things with love and care.
If you find yourself feeling guilty for doing less or feeling stuck in your current dynamic with no freedom to change, I know Whole Woman can help. I’ve seen women who have felt so unempowered at home make INSANE changes and feel worthy of having more space for themselves and their dreams. You can join the waitlist here.
Simple actions to take your life back, know your worth & feel alive no matter how drained, overwhelmed and far gone you feel.