Hi Is This Normal,

I feel like I have no time for myself- after working full time, and doing most of the work in regards to my 8 year old and almost 3 year old- and making dinners, and getting my 8 year old to all her activities I have no time for me… my husband manages to have time to ski, make music with friends, and have a life- why can’t I find time for me ever?
 

Dear Me Time,

Mama, let’s break this down right up front: you have no me time because your husband is taking it all for himself. You have no me time because you’re managing the bulk of the responsibilities when it comes to your home and children, while your husband is out skiing and making music with his friends. You have no me time because you’re a working mom with (what sounds like) very little help and support at home. And you know what? Help isn’t even the right word. Because your partner, with whom you share these kiddos and all the work that comes along with them, is not there to “help”. Help implies that his contributions can be voluntary or minor in comparison to what you do in a daily basis. Your me time is being lost to the politics of gender inequality in the home, and you are not alone.

 

We’re seeing a shift in gender equity in large spaces (slowly, yes, but it’s happening). Women are occupying more spaces previously “reserved” for men. The fight for equal pay wages on but has become a focal point for a lot of people in positions to make change. We’re trying to level the playing field when it comes to things like paid leave and parental support in the workplace. However, there’s much work to be done. And the work needs to start at home. It’s 2019, but the idea that women are responsible for the bulk of child care persists. For the past 20 years, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics has found that women who work outside of the home still take on about 65% of the parenting and child care responsibilities, while their working male partners coast along managing 35% of the same work. And it gets worse! Study after study highlights this gender gap at home, and each one is more depressing than the next. Take this study, for example, which says that dads who work long hours have wives who do more at home, while women who work long hours have husbands WHO SLEEP MORE AND WATCH MORE TV. Or this study that shows men who have babies spend twice the amount of time doing leisurely activities on weekends than their female partners do. It’s infuriating, and then we wonder why we’re so damn tired all the time.

 

And then, THEN, we’re conditioned to feel grateful when our partners do the absolute bare minimum, or to celebrate when dads do once what we’ve been doing every single day for years. You know what I’m talking about, right? In some ways, the bar is so very low that your partner doing the dishes without you asking is cause for celebration. We’re rewarding mediocrity, instead of raising our expectations and demanding more from our partners. Every time we fall over ourselves to thank our partners for doing the bare minimum, we’re reinforcing this idea that parenting duties and responsibilities rest solely on our shoulders, just because we’re women.

 

You are doing so much, mama. As a working mom of two kids around the same ages as yours, I truly understand where you’re coming from. You’re doing it all, and from the looks of it, your husband is reaping the rewards. There’s a major imbalance of labor here, and it needs to change. I’m not begrudging your husband his time, it’s super important for all parents to be able to disconnect once in a while and do something for themselves. But he seems to be doing it way more frequently, and that’s going to lead to a lot of anger and resentment (if it hasn’t already). It doesn’t have to be this way, but changing it is going to take you both being on the same page and confronting some uncomfortable truths about the work you put in at home. But for your mental health, and your overall happiness, it’s so important to open up that dialogue now.

Is This Normal

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