Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time
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In her attempts to juggle work and family life, Brigid Schulte has baked cakes until 2 a.m., frantically (but surreptitiously) sent important emails during school trips and then worked long into the night after her children were in bed.
Realising she had become someone who constantly burst in late, trailing shoes and schoolbooks and biscuit crumbs, she began to question, like so many of us, whether it is possible to be anything you want to be, have a family and still have time to breathe.
So when Schulte met an eminent sociologist who studies time and he told her she enjoyed thirty hours of leisure each week, she thought her head was going to pop off.
What followed was a trip down the rabbit hole of busy-ness, a journey to discover why so many of us find it near-impossible to press the 'pause' button on life and what got us here in the first place.
Overwhelmed maps the individual, historical, biological and societal stresses that have ripped working mothers' and fathers' leisure to shreds, and asks how it might be possible for us to put the pieces back together.
Seeking insights, answers and inspiration, Schulte explores everything from the wiring of the brain and why workplaces are becoming increasingly demanding, to worldwide differences in family policy, how cultural norms shape our experiences at work, our unequal division of labour at home and why it's so hard for everyone - but women especially - to feel they deserve an elusive moment of peace.
births to single mothers, and divorce.52 And again as in other Nordic countries, the initial push in the 1960s to support working families gave all the breaks—parental leave, part-time and flexible work—to mothers. That pushed women out of more demanding jobs in the private sector and into more forgiving government jobs and, unintentionally, left these countries with high rates of what’s called “occupational sex segregation,” with few women in traditionally male-dominated fields or in positions
Work: Who Are They and How Are They Faring?” OECD Employment Outlook, 2002, chap. 2, www.oecd.org/els/emp17652667.pdf. 54. Nathalie Rothschild, “In Sweden, a Debate Over Whether Gender Equality Has Gone Too Far,” Christian Science Monitor, April 7, 2012, www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/0407/In-Sweden-a-debate-over-whether-gender-equality-has-gone-too-far. 12: LET US PLAY 1. Stuart Brown, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (New York: Avery, 2009),
he volunteers on a number of charity boards. “I never get everything done that I need to do,” he says, adding that he was double-booked at the moment and really should be at another meeting. “I guess I could sleep less.” Travis Kitch works two jobs for two different and demanding bosses. His wife works full-time, and they are struggling to raise two special needs kids. “We are in a state of constant busyness,” he says. And leisure sometimes just feels wrong. “The Protestant work ethic is very
four-day workweek. My boss at the time said no, even though another mother and a man nearing retirement worked that schedule. I asked to work one day a week from home. No. I left that job as a national reporter to join the Washington Post’s Metro staff, so even if it was late, I could always be home for dinner and story time. Two and a half years later, at nearly thirty-nine, I had our daughter. I spent much of my maternity leave with her working on two projects, my infant snuggled
mothers less overwhelmed? Is everyone happier? And, more important, is there anything to learn? By 5:05, Søren walks in the front door. Søren is head of the Speaker’s Office in the Danish parliament. He says he left work at 4:30 and cycled home about three miles in the rain just to be home in time. In time for what? I ask. “My favorite exercise class,” Vibeke says with a smile. She kisses her husband and dashes out the door. Søren changes into a gray T-shirt and black jeans, walks to the