Working from home has allowed half a million women to increase their hours from part to full-time, with the same report stating that the number of working women aged 25 to 44 has increased by 1.8% since the pandemic started. Most notable, was the rise of working mothers from 68% (2019) to 74%*.
All these statistics are great news for women at work, but is there a downside?
As women, the you-can-have-it-all/we-should-be-able-to-have-it-all/why-should-we-try-to-have-it-all debate is one that will continue to rage and I’m not about to try and sway the argument in any one particular direction!
What we do need to ensure, though, is that whatever we take on isn’t adding more to our ‘to-do’ bucket without removing some things first! Yes, I’m looking at you, Superwoman…
As the saying goes, if you want something doing, give to a busy person. In my experience, most of those busy ‘people’ are women. Yet, we do it to ourselves don’t we? Struggling to say “no”, people-pleasing, feeling guilty for ‘letting someone down’ – like, as if!
Oh, then there’s our favourite add-on: Christmas.
It is a fact that women remain as the primary care-givers in the majority of domestic settings, so before Christmas gets into full flow, it’s time to think about those seasonal self-care tips for all those women who try to do too much…
Pretty much whatever your financial situation, money can be a worry at Christmas – for most, our spending is relative to our income (and then some). Why not consider the positive impact of giving the gift of not perpetuating others’ financial stress this year? Having a conversation with friends/family about not buying gifts can be very well received. This isn’t an attempt to be mean and you’ll be surprised by how appreciative they’ll be.
Do you have the ‘I end up doing everything’ argument in your household each year? Instead, start a conversation in advance about who is going to do what to help you prepare and deliver your family Christmas. For those able to do their bit, allocate tasks and agree a completion date. Tick them off as they get done on a family reward chart!
Do you come away from Christmas feeling like you need a holiday to recover? So agree with the members of your household – especially the other adults if there are any – times when you’ll have a bit of ‘you’ time each. Just 20-30 uninterrupted minutes to regularly do something to recharge your batteries – have a bath, meditate, read a book, call a friend – can do wonders for everyone’s patience!
Do you imagine your family Christmas to be like it is in the movies? Is the reality more National Lampoons than It’s a Wonderful Life? Then relax. That’s how it is for most families. So stop trying to be perfect. If Christmas 2020 taught us anything, it’s how just being together is good enough.
Time with your children at Christmas is, of course, magical. Let’s be honest here, though, the over-excitement, disrupted sleep and boredom during ‘betwixtmus’ – the days between Christmas and New Year – can also be tiring and fractious. And that’s just you! Try arranging some childcare swaps with friends/family/neighbours so that everyone gets some child-free time and the members of your household get a break from each other.
Whether its family members, friends, neighbours or work colleagues, other people can cause us additional stress at Christmas, when tempers can fray. Don’t feel guilty for putting you first by distancing yourself from those who generate negative feelings for you. Reduce the time you spend with them, mute or unfollow on social media or choose to respond differently to them if they cannot be avoided.
Work, home, family – there’s a lot to juggle at the best of times, so it’s normal at Christmas to feel overwhelmed with the extra burden the arrangements place on you. Set – and stick to – boundaries between work and home. Say “no” to things you just cannot do and see each refusal as an act of kindness to you – and say “yes” to offers of help! A few acts of self-care can do wonders for a wonderful Christmas for you and all those you love.
* All data from Resolution Foundation as quoted in The Independent UK
Carolyn Hobdey is the author of ‘All The Twats I Met Along The Way’ and founder of the Redefining SELFISH community. She lived a life of shame and blame so is now passionate about pioneering new ways of thinking to ensure we live without guilt and regrets. As CEO of MayDey Ltd, Carolyn is a regular speaker and media commentator on issues of toxic relationships, self-esteem, women’s health (including the menopause), selfishness, narcissism and many other imperative, topical women’s issues.
With over 20 years spent as an award-winning Human Resources professional in some of the world’s largest employers, Carolyn earned a seat at the boardroom table leading internationally recognisable brands. En route, she gained a Masters in Lean Operations at Cardiff University where she was the first HR specialist to undertake the course and became the winner of the inaugural Sir Julian Hodge Prize for Logistics, Operations & Manufacturing.
Carolyn lives in Harrogate and enjoys boxing, dancing and socialising with friends.
Redefining SELFISH: No guilt, no regrets is out on ebook and paperback out early November, available online and in all good bookshops, as well as at www.carolynhobdey.com