Sitting with my husband last night, we were talking about our week and attempts to get everything done. Looking at Dave, I said, "I work three days a week and I'm overwhelmed, I don't know how women who work full-time and raise kids do it." Seriously, I don't -- these women are fighting an uphill battle and while most won't admit the toll it's taking on their lives, something has to give.
As the founder of the Get Your Girl Back movement, I hear from women every day who are at the breaking point. Here are some of the most common frustrations I hear:
•Sheer exhaustion: The constant running from one place to the next with no down time, day after day, week after week, is resulting in a state of continuous stress and anxiety. I can take an hour to run to the bookstore and decompress, which for me is incredibly restorative, but I work part-time.
•Intense Pressure: The pressure women are under is debilitating and we're seeing it in poor health, broken marriages and an utter loss of hope among women that things will ever change. They want to provide for their families, but they also want to be present with their families. The struggle to find balance is nearly impossible.
•Emotionally Tired Operating on autopilot, women crave emotional connection, yet rarely experience it. Rather than playing a family game of Pictionary after dinner, odds are you'll find a working mom throwing clothes in the washer, picking up the house or cramming in one more work email.
•Consumed by Guilt: No matter how much good they do, working moms are crushed by guilt. When they are working, they feel guilty for not being with their kids and when with the kids, they feel guilty for not working. What gives?
•Unrecognizable to Themselves: Women look in the mirror and no longer recognize themselves. Unhealthy and overweight, it's as if a stranger is looking back at them. As much as working moms want to get fit, when exactly do they find the time? In the morning they have to get their kids off to school, most head straight to work and get home between 5:30-6. Between preparing dinner, homework and after-school activities, when do they "work out?" It's easy to say 9 or 10 at night, but really, when they are exhausted and simply want to sleep? While it's not what any of us wants to admit, this is a real challenge for working women.
This is just a sample of what's going on in the world of working women. It's not pretty, is it? I'm not in any way suggesting we stop working, but I am suggesting that we start talking. Rather than acting like everything is okay, how about we start telling the truth about what's really going on so we can come up with much-needed solutions -- a.k.a. setting work parameters, hiring housekeepers without guilt, reducing after school commitments and so on. Yes, I'm talking about making tough decisions that improve your quality of life.
Me? Ask for Help?
Let's be honest; most women are too strong to ask for help or ever admit they can't get it all done. In most cases, it's not so much "all the work," but more so the constraints of work. The inability to be at home with a sick kid without taking a "sick day" or being shunned at the office. The frustration of wanting to be in two places at once -- at your kid's ball game and at the client dinner to win that new business -- and worse of all, the feeling that you can't flat out say that your family is a priority. You feel like you must act like your job is. And again, it may be, but at the end of the day, if tomorrow were your last day on Earth, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't spend it at work but with your family.
More women are working than ever, and 40% are the family breadwinners. While most have to work, many love to work too -- it gives them a sense of purpose, satisfaction and of course, a much-needed paycheck. The same holds true for men. But because of societal expectations, women bend over backwards to make sure everything is perfect because the truth is if it's not, we feel like failures and this, friend, is where our downfall begins.
I imagine most of us wouldn't change a thing about our roles because we love our families and know we are blessed for what my friend Angela Kim calls "gorgeous chaos." But the truth is, it's exhausting. Look, I made a choice when Paris was born 11 years ago to transition from full to part time in my business. It was a difficult decision, but was one I made and it's worked great for me. Yet sitting with Dave last night and really taking in how much there is to do in a day, I couldn't help but feel for my comrades.
Could it be that we have gotten to a point in society where we define success by our level of busyness? If there is an hour or two of downtime, we will find a way to fill it so we feel accomplished? Have we gotten so used to multi-tasking and "doing" that we don't know how to just do nothing and be still? I wonder.
While I don't know how women do it, I can't help but think, in talking to thousands of women through my movement, that maybe we're not doing "it" so well. Isn't the point of life to live it versus simply surviving it? I know there are times I'm in survival mode, but my daily goal and intention is to really live my life
while I can. Yet to do that I have to be uber conscious about leaving open time in my calendar, not feeling guilty for making time for me or my husband Dave. That's one of the reasons I decided to trade time for money. When I went from 60 hours a week in my business to 24, I knew it would mean less cash in the bank but also I hoped it would mean more fun and meaning in my life. Being raised by a single mom with three kids, who worked three jobs at a time, I know not all women have the luxury of deciding how many hours they will work and that leads me back to my original thought: How do you do it?
My question as you begin the new year is to ask yourself, "How do I do it and how might I do it better?" Consider the following questions:
•What am I currently doing that is not necessary and that with strong will power, I can cut from my weekly schedule? Ex: Limiting each kid to one sport versus two so you can have more family time at home.
•Who can I carpool with in the new year so I'm not always on the road?
•Can I ask to telecommute from home one day a week? The worse thing that can happen is your boss will say no.
•What parameters do I need to put on my work? Ex: My work phone is shut off after 7 p.m. and my computer is powered down.
•What chores can my kids take on to help me out? Depending on their ages, you would be surprised what they are capable of doing!
•If I had 30 minutes to myself every day, what would I do with it?
•Who have I been neglecting, that needs to know how I really feel? Ex: Write a love letter to your spouse or significant other and let that person know what they mean to you.
While you may feel there is no end in sight and that this is your life and your burden to carry, it's not true, you have options... you just have to be creative and exercise them. My New Year's wish for you is that you find a way to do it even better so you can experience true happiness- great health, a fulfilled marriage, me time and an abundance of happiness in 2015 -- and beyond.
Written by Traci Bild- Author, Speaker & Entrepreneur. Get a FREE Get Your Girl Back Dream Journal and spend some time off-line filling the pages with the images of what you hope to do in your next year or decade! Go to www.GYGB.com and fill out the online form for an instant download.
Instagram: Get Your Girl Back Movement ∙ Twitter: @TraciBild