Dear Married Mothers, Don’t Feel Guilty To Put Your Feet Up
Being a mother is a tough task and comes with endless duties, all of which we must ace, because we are responsible for nurturing a child. It is exhausting, demanding and relentless. Add to it the list of household duties one must perform as well and you understand why mothers feel so drained at the end of every day. But if a study is to be believed, then married mums end up doing more household jobs than unmarried or single moms. So what does it tell us about marriage and motherhood?
- A research says that married moms do more household work than unmarried and single moms.
- This says more about the institute of matrimony than men and even motherhood.
- Married women feel obliged to perform household duties because that is what is expected of them by the society.
- Unmarried or single mothers choose to live their life on their terms. And that comes with a degree of liberation for them.
According to a study married women spend an average of 2.95 hours daily on housework, compared to 2.41 hours for unmarried women. They also report spending 10 minutes less daily on leisure and 13 minutes less daily on sleep.
According to a study from sociologists at the University of Maryland, University of Texas, and University of Southern California, women married to men spend more time on housework than single moms. Adjusted for differences in employment, education, race, and number of children or other extended family members at home, married women spend an average of 2.95 hours daily on housework, compared to 2.41 hours for unmarried women—a difference of about 32 minutes every day. Married mothers also report spending 10 minutes less daily on leisure and 13 minutes less daily on sleep.
The differences may seem minor, but keep adding these over the course of weeks, months and years and the numbers are no longer is neglectable. The clear factor which manipulates the amount of household work done by mothers here is their marital status. As the research says, married moms are more likely to “perform gender” in their relationships. This basically means that married women are more bound to uptake traditional roles out of gendered obligation, while unmarried or single moms cut themselves some slack. This says more about the institute of matrimony than motherhood, or male partners for that matter.
Married women may perform more household chores because that is what their families, peers and immediate society expects from them.
When men and women enter a matrimonial alliance they automatically slip into the gendered roles assigned to them. Men become the primary earners and women become primary caregivers in most marriages. The bulk of household chores majorly fall on women and they feel obliged to do that as the woman of the house. Does motherhood further polarise gendered duties in a marriage? It does. Perhaps because married moms often end up compromising on the work front, putting their careers on the back burner and devoting their time to rearing children and doing household chores. Or perhaps they just feel pressured to do the household duties despite caring for their children because that is what their immediate society expects from them.
A married woman feels she is answerable to her husband, her family and her social circle. She must live by the standards society has created for her. Single and unmarried mothers feel no such obligation. They have chosen to live life on their own terms and that decision comes with a degree of liberation from social boundations. Also, being a single or unmarried mother doesn’t mean that these women don’t have male partners (since this research only takes heterosexual mothers into account). So it isn’t men who force women to overwork themselves or spend less time resting.
The burden of household chores falls on your shoulders entirely not because you are married, but because you have a certain idea about your own role in a marriage.
Ultimately, the research hints that marriage still remains a gendered institution and both men and women may fall into roles they may despise or not identify with because of social pressure or because it feels simpler and less complicated that way. Whatever may be the reason, married mothers shouldn’t be so hard on themselves. The burden of household chores falls on your shoulders entirely not because you are married, but because you have a certain idea about your own role in a marriage. Who can change that for you? Your husband? Your peers. No. Only you can change that. Learn to put yourselves first and every time you put your feet up for 10 more minutes every day than you usually do, tell yourself that you’ve earned it.
Picture Credit: mediaresources.idiva
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.