It was a happy day. We were having a get together. It was a potluck and the women were busy preparing what they were meant to bring. I spent a good 2 hours prepping and preparing, clearly underestimating the time it needed to cook for 10 adults and many children. We were looking forward to an afternoon of chatter, laughter and fun. We did have that. But you know what, all of the women agreed how wonderful it would be if the men instead of plonking down to beer, food and conversations where they are served with not a care in a world would actually oversee some arrangements.

How it would feel for us to turn the tables? The women walking in and sitting down on the table to beer and drinks. Most of us drink these days. And the men served us at the table and then worried about the little kids, feeding them and taking care of their minor disputes and crying. Does it seem too far fetched? Not at all. My husband has been taking care of the kids and also cooking always. So I can see him shine at this. Is it that sometime we just don’t ask?

This has nothing to do with women working professionally or being at home. Women never stop working, period! From the moment they wake up till the time they hit the bed, it is a constant check list of things to be ticked off. To be fair, husbands do quite a bit these days, at least mine does. Yet, the kids’s day-to-day studies, their assessments and exams, their activities and projects, the maids and their supervision, menu planning, sending off the kids to school, planning their meals and packing their lunchboxes, cooking 3 meals a day, folding laundry are all things that I do solely. Can I really switch off and work? Hardly ever. In between my professional work, I cook breakfast and lunch. I also pick up the kids or go out for personal work. I multitask quite a bit. The only time when I can completely switch off is when I travel. Sometimes on work and some other time on family engagements.

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These days, I cherish the quiet. I don’t want to be spoken to all the time. I want to go away from the bickering noises of the kids. When I travel alone, I either read or watch people. I love doing nothing once in a while, my mind empty of thoughts and worries. My mind not overdoing the routine and checking off duties and chores.

I think the biggest difference in being a man and a woman is that men have the luxury of switching off and not multitasking. They can be at work, whether from home or office and not expect to be disturbed. They don’t come home to multiple responsibilities. The woman especially if she is a mother has no such luxuries. She is constantly working against time to make it to work on time after finishing all her duties at home in the morning. She is also working quick and hard to make it back home on time. My friend, Nabanita, shares her struggles as a young working mother on her blog.

My older son is currently having his Board exams. I haven’t left the house in months for a vacation. I need to be here. I want to be here to offer him moral support, to ease his nerves, to provide him the much-needed boost when he feels overwhelmed. The younger son also will be having his exams soon. I have been supervising and goading him to study all these days. I will spend time revising the portion before each paper as well. The husband has taken two guilt-free weeklong trips in the past 2 months. I don’t grudge him those trips. I just see the contrast in how a woman, willingly or unwillingly, is always working, always invested.

As a woman, I want to facilitate other women to take time off completely. My mother-in-law did that when the kids were young. She would babysit the kids while we could go out or I could go to the parlor. Can we help out our friends similarly? Give them some responsibility free time to do what we they even if it means just reading a book, watching something on TV or just sitting and staring at the leaves fall from the trees. And I would ask the women to give it a shot. Don’t hanker about the small mistakes that your man may make. So what if the house is not spotless or the work done as you do it, the effort has been made. Appreciate it and encourage it. Claim this time for yourself, guilt-free. You deserve it!

To the men, I say, you can’t give a bigger gift to your woman by giving her some worry-free time. Decide on how you want to do it. It could be by making lunch all by yourself, no help from her (including cleaning up the kitchen). It could be handling the home while she can go out solo or with her girlfriends. It can be by encouraging her to go out for a few days while you handle the home and the kids.

It’s not difficult to do if the intent is there. Can we try giving each other equal opportunity to switch off from duties and responsibilities? Can we help women switch off?

Pics courtesy: Pinnable Image and Featured Image Shutterstock

18 Thoughts on “Help Women Switch Off

  1. Switching roles is something which is important. A woman is not paid to shoulder responsibilities that go beyond her office work. I think it whittles down to our attitudes in roles that should ideally be shared between husband and wife. I have decided to learn cooking to relieve Maa of a lil burden and I start today. There will come a time when I will be on my own and learning.

  2. Agree. I used to be like that. But over the years, we’ve blended pretty well and home and share chores. While I exclusively took care of certain things, there’s no hard and fast rule I should. We consider everything interchangeable and are happy to do things as they need to be done, depending on whoever’s workload is lighter at that point. I think the women “should” is too deeply ingrained in our psyche to easily be able to switch off. Plus most of us have grown up watching the same stereotype.

    Yep, I can proudly say my family encourages me to switch off. Whether or not I do it is a different thing, but at least it is my prerogative.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. I get a lot of help from VT at home but I can never switch off. There are times I feel why me? But then I know it’s how stereotypes have shaped men. The problem i face is VT would tell me to drop all I am doing and relax. But for how long? After 2-3 lots of unfolded clothes, I will still have to do it 😉

    Times have sure changed but a lot more needs to be done.

  4. You’re right about it being, largely, a woman thing- this need to multi task. Something genetic or hard wired into our psyche, I think, either through conditioning or observation. Not saying it’s right, just that it appears to be that way.

    In our case, V is extremely hands on, with the cooking/taking care of the kid/shopping etc but I also believe that is, in large part, to his upbringing. His parents ensured that he was independent as well as an integral part of the chores etc. So the idea of equitable distribution of labour has to start there. Unfortunately, many men are not taught this as they grow up. Again, probably due to lack of role models? So, when they are married they just expect women to do everything/pick up the slack. In our case, if chores aren’t done due to exhaustion or lack of time, we just let them be and do it when we can. And whoever is free, does it.

    It’s a tough ask but we need to lay emphasis on this when we teach our kids what to look for in their life partners. Hopefully, that will happen at some point in the future- the idea of equal division of labour.

  5. Thank you for the mention, Rachna.
    You know well how much I agree with what you have written here.
    In fact, I will go so far to say that Men have it easy when compared to women 9 out of 10 times. We are constantly working. I see it every day at work, in the stories that my female colleagues share. Yes, they might have their own struggles but they don’t nearly work as much as we women do. And I long to see a time when chores are divided equally when we can switch off.

  6. Switching off or garnering some me-time is so essential and I wish more women would feel the need for it and seriously do so! If it means pushing your other half to help ou – so be it! You are right in saying that we dont ask – thats the core of the issue. I know of many women who will die than ask for help from their spouses because it would demean them; they are ones to do it all and this is shameful! I havent understood this mentality and even today fight with my mother over it!

  7. Oh wouldn’t it be nice if women could switch off like men. Frankly, for that we would need a whole new set of role models ? we all grew up watching moms and grandmoms taking care of everything in the house. It’s kinda ingrained now. I feel men these days take much more responsibilities than the previous generation, which is a wonderful change. Both men and women should get equal opportunities to relax and unwind, without caring about piling laundry and dirty dishes.

  8. Oh, I was nodding all along. Just like you, I can never switch off unless I travel. Even through that, I sometimes cannot help but wonder what is going on at work. Also, my mind is constantly racing to check if the husband will get some good vegetarian food around. Yeah, I seriously need to work on my switching off techniques.

    It is sad that we women are expected to have a set of default skills. Be it taking care of the family, cooking, working or multitasking. Some one us try our best, but none of these should be mandatory for every woman. Having said that, I have see some women who while away their time at home doing nothing and expect others to come in from work and help them. I’d understand if she was sick or something. But what would you call a perfectly healthy woman who stays at home all day and spends time on the phone gossiping or watching TV? What would you call a woman who cooks once/twice a week and expects the others at home who work to adjust with the same food from the fridge day after day? What would you call a woman who expects to be treated like a queen when she barely does anything at home? Such women need to switch on and get a reality check.

    Both men and women have the right to switch off once in a while and breathe freely. During a regular day I have a million things on my head no matter what I do. The need to do it all is what takes me down. Slowly, I’m learning to let go. But I still have a long way to go, as does the society.

  9. Sivagamy on March 15, 2018 at 5:32 pm said:

    Hi mam.nice blog.urwriting style is tooooo good.loveufr sharing ur experience.

  10. You’ve summed up the problem in this sentence – The biggest difference in being a man and a woman is that men have the luxury of switching off and not multitasking. Even when we are not working, we are worrying. I was telling my friend that we put a lot of burden on us. We need to unburden ourselves. My husband also helps. I’ve never cooked alone. But when he is watching TV, he is enjoying. I can’t do that because I put too much pressure on myself. We must learn to let it go once in a while. A help from family and friends would be a gentle nudge in this direction.

  11. You said it Rachna. Sometimes it is overwhelming – simply the number of tasks to be done at the same time. And if you do not have the skill of multitasking you’r constantly messing up – the milk is boiling over or we’re running late for a guitar class or I forget to pick up the ironing. Which is why my phone is beeping all day with reminders. When the husband is home I feel like putting up my feet and doing just nothing.
    The worst bit is none of it is acknowledged. This is why a large number of women have physical and mental breakdowns.

  12. Very apt post.As you said, it’s many times the woman who resist.We just have the habit of doing everything and doing it our way.For us to let our hair down, we have to let go. Of course, without your spouse helping, it’s not possible but many times i see women clutching on and trying to do everything coz it has to be done exactly ‘that’ way.

  13. Oh I loved this post, Rachna! I completely agree that women simply never switch off, though men do a lot these days too. I can definitely speak of my husband who is a true partner in every sense, from cooking to cleaning to parenting – he is all in.

    And even then I am the one in charge of all the planning, scheduling of the tasks of the household on a day to day basis. Now to be honest, being the Type A person I am, I don’t mind this much, I actually love it. However, every now and then I feel like I simply need the luxury to switch off, and I loved what you suggested in this post.

    We women need to band together to do this!

  14. Well said, Rachna. I have been feeling the brunt of not switching off in the past months and last month I reached to a point of total exhaustion. It forced me to take a break and evaluate which made me realize that I’m thinking and planning even in my sleep. There is no off button. There is no rest. Even when I did something to relax, I wasn’t able to completely be in the moment with a million things to keep track of. My husband helps me with everything, yet I am the one who has to be on top of everything. So now I’m trying to take it easy. This post came at the right time, you know. We need to stop burdening ourselves with so many tasks, don’t we?

  15. There was an article doing the rounds last year about mental workload and women. I think in the end, women and girls are socialised to think about everything and plan everything while boys are taught they don’t need to think about these things. We need to change that. Only then will things change. It’s not about just switching off for a few moments…it’s about knowing men, boys, partners will think about things too. Will think about the groceries, the meals, the clothes that need folding…but nope, sadly, we don’t train boys to do that. Which is why we get lumped with not being able to switch off.

  16. Such a good post, Rachna! It’s so important that we women learn to let go! Today’s husbands and dads are usually very willing to help but we often feel the conflict and guilt of giving them the complete reins when it comes to housework and parenting! Perhaps it’s social conditioning that has made us this way! But, by encouraging each other, we can definitely learn to relax and switch off!! <3

  17. Thing is, we women are so programmed to do it all that we are seldom happy to delegate . We are control freaks, whether we like to admit it or not. Also, as you said ,we need to ask for help. Which we seldom do.
    Food for thought, Rachna. A much needed post to rewire our thought process.

Do not leave without commenting. I love a good conversation :).

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