When you’ve asked someone how things were going, how many times do you hear the answer “Busy?” How many times have you yourself provided that answer or spiced things up a little but adding “Things are good … but busy?”
We’re racing towards something, and sometimes I wonder if it’s one big heart attack for all of us.
I can’t help but notice while visiting friends or looking in the mirror that we all look a lot more tired in the past few years. Granted, the aging process is cruel, but I don’t see it as the primary culprit. We’ve learned that our bodies aren’t capable of doing everything we used to accomplished in a day, but for the most part we ignore that and turn to caffeine and wine to prop us up.
We overschedule our kids and ourselves, to try and give our kids a better life, or to support the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed, but more than anything because we don’t want to let anyone down.
The problem is that the pace is way past frenetic. Ask the average mother to tell you everything they do in one week. After listening to the litany, most men would fall over exhausted. (And that is simply from listening).
Let’s break down a week using low time estimates. Most people work more hours, they take kids to more activities, and they spend more time cleaning their houses, but here goes:
There are 168 hours in a week. Removing a 37.5-hour work week, plus 2 hours commuting, that leaves 128.5 hours for “fun.” Assuming 7 hours of sleep a night, which we are told is not enough, we “lose” another 49 hours. Laundry and other household chores add 4 hours a week (and now you know why there are always dust bunnies under my couch). Add in shuttling two kids to only two extracurricular activities per week, and there goes another 6 hours. Grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation take another 13 hours. Add another 2 hours a week to make kids’ lunches. Eating meals with family (or near them as you run out the door to take another child to their activity) eats up another 7 hours. Bathroom time including showering and primping subtracts 4 more hours from the week (hence why when I find time for looking in the mirror I appear more tired than ever… perhaps I need to bump up this estimate). Time carved out for fun family activities is at least 20 hours a week primarily on weekends or we’d have to add at least 3 hours of therapy a week as guilt-ridden parents.
If you’re following the math, there is less than 24 hours left in a week for a woman to schedule exercise, “me” time or “husband” time. (And people wonder why the divorce rate is so high).
But we’re still nowhere close to done the typical woman’s to-do list. Now add on a woman’s role as social convenor for the family including emailing, calling, planning family get-togethers, birthday parties, and special celebrations, not to mention posting photos of them on social media. Throw in doctors’ appointments, volunteer work, fundraising or baking for kids’ activities, and minor home renovations and we’re all trying to steal hours from next week to get this week done.
We hope that technology will help us to cram more in and not to forget as much. Our smart phones have become the most important accessory in our wardrobes. Fortunately or not, Facebook now even reminds us of the birthdays we’ve forgotten or are about to forget.
We learn to multi-task our multi-tasking. Suddenly it seems like a normal idea to pair as many activities as possible: catching up with friends on the telephone while in the bathroom seems to be the latest trend. Doing errands on lunch which usually pre-empts actual eating is very typical in my house (who knew you could multi-task dieting with banking). I even caught myself suggesting a ladies night venue change from a restaurant and the movie theatre to the grocery store recently. (It sounded totally normal coming out of my mouth at the time).
Basically, what I’m getting at here is that 9 to 5 doesn’t work for many women, or their families. The effects of a tired, frazzled mom is obviously felt by the whole family.
Oprah said we could have it all, but then again, Oprah doesn’t have kids.
There has to be a better way. If only we had time to think about what that better way is…