What does every mom REALLY want for mother’s day? It’s not breakfast in bed, it’s not flowers, and it’s not a new kitchen appliance. What she really wants is more time, more hours in the day, and the feeling, at least for a few minutes, of being caught up. Caught up with all of the emails, endless forms that need to be filled out, loads of laundry, and to do lists. Caught up with her friends and what’s going on in their lives, and caught up with herself. That is what would make her happy.
Statistics show that women, particularly mothers working outside the home, are more overwhelmed than ever. Men have shown little change in happiness over the past 20 years, yet woman’s happiness levels as measured on psychological surveys has plummeted. The reasons are clear: women feel they are “never caught up.”
- Women in America spend triple the time taking care of their children that mothers spent in the 1960’s.
- Workplace culture, government policies, and general attitudes toward women have remained almost unchanged since the 1960’s.
- Mothers, even those working outside the home, do twice the housework and twice the child care as fathers.
- Men do one and a half things at a time, whereas women do five things at once while thinking about and planning two or three more.
These statements resonate with women no matter their socioeconomic status or whether they work outside the home. And, women feel happier, less stressed, and more productive when they organize their physical spaces, manage their time, nurture relationships important to them, and focus on themselves.
So, this year on Mother’s Day, forgo the traditional gifts, and instead think about how you can help your wife/partner feel more fulfilled.
- Physical Space: Start by throwing away 10 things you don’t really need. Think about the ratty t-shirts, souvenirs from college, work shirts and ties you don’t wear, socks without mates, baseball hats no longer worn, undershirts with stains under the arms… you get it. Then, if you’re the type that likes to exceed expectations, spend an hour in each of your children’s rooms, going through clothes and toys that have been outgrown. If you really want to impress, pack up all the donations and get them out of the house…the sooner the better
- Time: Help out your wife/partner out by filling out some forms. There are plenty to choose: camp forms, medical forms, permission slips, passport renewals, and so much more. Then, call the refrigerator repairperson and make sure you can be home to meet the guy from Time Warner. This is the only way you’ll understand how meaningless a “four hour window” is.
- Relationships: Mark your calendar with three dates where you’ll be home, and your wife/partner will be out on the town with her friends. You can take her out one night too, but science shows that it’s connecting with her girlfriends that’s a stress reducer.
- Herself: A perfect Mother’s Day is one with no guilt, one with a few hours alone to read a book, exercise, clear the mind, or take a nap. Don’t give your wife/partner a choice, because that can breed guilt. Make the choice for her and disappear with the children for a minimum of 3 hours. For extra credit, give her an overnight.
So this year, instead of calling 1-800-FLOWERS, consider this your Mother’s Day Gift guide. Gather some black trash bags, coordinate your calendars, and give your wife the gift of feeling more caught up…if just for the day.
The authors, Erica Keswin and Barbara Reich, have been colleagues and friends since the 1990’s, have applied their years in business, management consulting, and organization development to design an analytical approach to help women feel happier, less stressed, and more productive. They conduct seminars on this topic for corporations and groups of women.
Erica Keswin is the Founder of Organization Performance Resources, LLC and has worked in organization development and executive coaching for over 20 years. In collaboration with MIT Professor Sherry Turkle, Erica has been researching the impact of technology on relationships in the workplace. In 2015, the culmination of this research, Reclaiming Conversation will be published. Erica serves on the board of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Aspen as well as serving as the Vice Chair of the Board of the Rodeph Sholom School.
Barbara Reich is the Founder of Resourceful Consultants, LLC, a firm that specializes in the organization of people, their lives, and physical spaces. She has spent the past 15 years organizing hundreds of families in their homes and offices. Barbara has appeared on the Today Show, Fox News, and has been featured in the New York Times, New York Post, Real Simple, and InStyle, among other publications. She is also the author of Secrets of an Organized Mom, winner of the Mom’s Choice Award.
If you’re interested in learning more about seminars on Never Caught Up, contact Erica Keswin at firstname.lastname@example.org or Barbara Reich at email@example.com.