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Are You Always Trying to do Everything for Everyone?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I like to write blogs based on subjects I can relate to because I think what I’ve written ends up being more interesting.   If that’s the case, this should be the most interesting thing I’ve ever talked about because I felt like the results of this study were speaking directly to me.  And I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Being a mom is a very rewarding job.  But if I’m honest, I’ll admit that it’s also very hard and sometimes very stressful.  I don’t make it easy on myself, because I feel like I have to do everything for everyone, all the time.  My husband has always been more than willing to help out in any way that I ask.  But he works long hours and his paycheck makes it possible for me to work part-time and be home with our kids a lot.  So I feel like the home is my responsibility.  When he is home, I want him to be able to spend time with the kids instead of cooking dinner, folding laundry, cleaning, etc.  That’s just part of the reason I try to do everything.  I know I’m making myself sound like I’m a very traditional housewife, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But it’s funny that I don’t consider myself to be traditional at all. 
This mentality I can’t seem to get rid of has put a lot of pressure on me.  I feel guilty going out and doing things alone because I know how hard it can be to manage three little ones at home on your own.  At the same time, I start to feel burnout when I don’t get much free time to myself.  I’ve always felt like I’m the crazy mom who can’t seem to find balance, while everyone else has it all figured out.  That is, until I read a recent survey conducted by Real Simple magazine and the Families and Work Institute
The survey, published in the April 2012 issue of Real Simple, asked over 3,000 women questions about how they manage their time, specifically free time.  The majority of the women surveyed say they do most of the housework and chores themselves.  One in three said they don’t delegate tasks to their spouse/partner because they feel like it won’t get done to their standards.   Oh boy, this is me.  My husband is willing to take on regular chores around the house.  But he never gets them done fast enough or exactly the way I’d prefer, so in the end I decide it’s easier for me to do it myself.
According to the survey, “61% of women overall feel guilty when they choose to spend time on themselves.”  Oh boy, that’s me too.  It’s funny how I went from doing things for myself all the time before kids, to doing almost nothing for myself now.   It’s not because others don’t encourage me to, it’s because I’m stubborn and not easily convinced to change.
“When asked which chore they would like to get off their plates the most, women overwhelmingly said “cleaning.” Yet surprisingly, the second-place response was “nothing,” which implies that women may actually enjoy their daily tasks—or are so used to doing them, they can no longer distinguish work time from leisure time in their minds.”    Leisure time?  Can you tell me again what that is, exactly?  Just kidding.
Can you relate?  Even if you don’t have children or your kids are grown, do you tend to shoulder most of the household responsibilities?  Are you able to make time for yourself?  How do you do it?

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I work nights and my husband works days. We have always split the household duties even prior to kids. He is always willing to do whatever I ask, he somehow never notices what needs to get done and frankly I get tired of asking. So ultimately I take a lot on myself. I do get time away at work so I get a break from my kids but "me" time is very valuable to both my husband and I. We try to ensure that we both get some time away weekly even if it is just an hour while one of us takes the kids out of the house. This mutual respect of each others needs has really helped us deal with our demanding life and schedules. I think communication is key, we need to be honest with what we need and recognize that being at home all day with kids is a harder job than most jobs out of the home. You still need a break. If you can communicate that to a receptive partner it will end up in resentment at some point. Don't get me wrong we still have our issues but for the most part we do understand what each other needs and we both take responsibility for the household. Now if we can just get that time together-- oh well I guess that will come... Report
Oh, this is so me! I work full time but since I telecommute I don't even get the me time others get while commuting to work. My husband and son both have a higher tolerance of leaving the household chores undone so I end up doing them myself. When I do ask for help they do not do the job to my standards so I end up doing it myself. I feel terribly guilty taking any time to myself as I feel there is always something else that needs to be done, such as cleaning, laundry or yard work. I realize that most of my stress is self inflicted but it is a very difficult thing to change. Report
Anybody else notice that @flabbalicious wrote "Having a stay at home husband taking care of our son, I feel that when I come home from work, I have to take up the slack. " - but yet so many women don't expect the same from their husbands? That is, that he would feel an obligation to take up the slack when he comes home? I can totally relate to what she writes, though - I've done the same thing at various points in my parenting career!

I think it's important for our mental health to delegate household responsibilities - not to mention, it's important for our children to learn the skills while they still have us as (hopefully patient) teachers! Report
Funny how we do these things to ourselves. We have a big family, it's divided in that my oldest is in College, so we have one full time daughter and son and one part time daughter, and the College daughter who comes home for breaks and holidays. I feel like my time is their time. The only time I have for myself is when I go work out, and then thats with a bunch of people. On my days off from my full time job I try to do things which make me recharge, like gardening or going to the movies by myself. I feel guilty because I fell into this pattern when my son was born. I love my family tons but I need me time!!! Report
I don't have a problem taking time for me. And I don't have a problem with letting others in my house shoulder part of the responsibility. My attitude is this: we ALL live there, so EVERYONE should help out.

I don't get that whole bit about "standards." Is it more important that every chore be done only one way, or that the chore gets done? It's that kind of arrogant thinking that leaves women holding the bag, be it a laundry bag or a grocery bag.

My husband does the bulk of the laundry, he cooks, he cleans (better than I do!).

I think some men actually screw up chores on purpose so that the woman will take them over. Not me. After he messed up a couple of my articles of clothing, I simply decided to wash those things I don't want ruined and let him take care of the rest.

He cared for the boys when they were little. I say that before a woman has a child with a man, she should ask herself this question: "If I dropped off the face of the earth, would he be able to care for the children?"

I can honestly say that we have a great relationship now that the children are grown because we both did what needed to be done. I almost never felt angry from having "to do it all."

We've taught the boys how to cook and clean; I wouldn't expect them to treat their girlfriends or wives like hired help when the day comes because just like me, the women in their lives will most likely be working outside the home also. Report
I identify with this!! I have raised 3 kids and am now babysitting 2 grandchildren part time and work part time. A very busy schedule and I do most of the housework, cooking and so on. But I have learned to write into my schedule a quiet time for just me. I really have to fight to not let it be taken up with other things, but I need that time. The only way I can relax and not feel guilty is to know--this is what I do for this 2 to 3 hours. Report
This is me! I take a night off to go spend some time just for me & then I end up rushing back home because I feel guilty for not being there. My head tells me that it's selfish, though I know that's not true. It's an inner conflict I have. Report
I can relate to this blog. I have grown kids that are married and I am still helping them run their homes along with my own. I feel the same way about my husband being able to relax and spend time at home not having to do anything when he is home. He works all day along with driving 2 hours to and from work just to be able to keep a roof over our heads and keeping income coming into our home so I can stay at home and take care of every thing else Report
It took me many years but over time I learned to "ditch" the perfectionism and just let my husband do the little things to help out "his way". It may not be my way but you know what...that's okay. Who is to say I am doing it the "right" way? I thought towels had to be folded "my way". It was a learned behavior from my upbringing. Like I said....perfectionism had to go so I could be free to accept others and enjoy my life more. Report
Having a stay at home husband taking care of our son, I feel that when I come home from work, I have to take up the slack. I know how much it can be with a little one. Yet being an Administrative Assistant, I'm also catering to people at work. I guess the only time I have for me is during the commute. Sometimes it can be overwhelming but that's how it is until our son get's older and starts school. Report
Yuuuuuuuuuuuupppp! I'm still trying to figure it out... my husband has lots of free time due to his retail schedule that gives him days off/mornings off when our kids are at school while I feel bad if I leave them with him for an hour to get a pedicure. I know that if I had time off without our kids, I would probably spend the day catching up on housework. Bah!

Me time = my daily commute to and from work.

Hoping for more balance when my children get a little older, and I get a little wiser.

As an only child, I wasn't spoiled, because I did *all* the chores at our home when I was growing up including lawncare and laundry. Maybe because it was just my mother & I?

Best of luck to you. Report

We girls/women just have that nurturing instinct
to always do for others and not ask for help.

There is NOTHING WRONG with asking for
or needing help.

HAPPY Easter all ! Report
We were raised to do a lot of chores around the house and yard, as was my husband. I see SO many women today whose kids do NOTHING - and then mom feels guilty, resentful and dead tired. I wonder if they realize that they are doing NO ONE any favors? Report
Oh my this is SO me!! I CONSTANTLY complain that I don't have any help...I complain that I have SO much to do....and then when people offer to help me I say "no that's ok I will do it myself"...and then I become the martyr....I REALLY should give up either my perfectionism OR the complaining that I way or the other!! It would make ME happier and everyone else around me happier too!!! Report
I also have 3 young children and can TOTALLY relate to this! A couple of months ago, I made a personal decision to train for my first 5K and it really helped me feel better about myself! For the past 8 years, I've been so focused on my family and home that I didn't realize I had forgotten about myself. Report
"61% of women overall feel guilty when they choose to spend time on themselves"--that was me 7 plus years ago and when I discovered that I am just as important as everyone else, I actually was able to do more for them, while doing more for me...a lesson that was 40 years in the making. I am slow learner, but as they say, better late than never! Report
I have never been very traditional or thought about it. When I was first married, my husband expected me to do everything. Wrong! One day he said, "I could clean better than you" So I let him. He was right. He could. And has for 34 years. However, I do the brakes on the car. It never mattered to me if the clothes turned out pink, I don't do laundry either. Clean is clean. Colour isn't important. Except maybe a good white silk blouse, but I got over that.

My husband went from knowing how to do nothing, his mother did everything to being an excellent cook and assuming most of the household chores. This brought him closer to the kids than most fathers.

My kids also learned to use a washing machine before they were 12, learned to cook and clean early on. We shared things, together. My youngest is now 30 and all four kids call almost every day, we see our grandchildren at least once a week.

So ease up on yourself. If you spend the day playing in puddles with the kids and grandchildren, the housework, laundry etc will still be there tomorrow. Report
Sometimes, it's even a timing issue. We're on a schedule which may not be considered by others and they'd prefer to do it, on their own time. Then, we wonder why we're so overwhelmed! Report
Great post - yup, that's most of us! Between 3/4 time work and a new part-time line of my own work, it's hard to juggle it all. After 15+ years of marriage and 2 kids, I have finally learned to let some things go - my husband doesn't to them the way I would or up to (my) standards, but they get done. And I have learned that "me" time can be carved out in the early morning once the kids are old enough for minimal supervision at bedtime. And if you love your work, that, too can be "me" time. Report
Sounds like me all my life. Very hard to adjust to something else and let anyone do anything. Maybe in time God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. Hopes this helpe me some though. Report
This was so timely. We are getting ready to go to NYC for Easter. I am up very early as while I worked yesterday all the things I thought would be done by those that were home did not get done. I am FRANTIC....... then I decided I could be excited about the weekend OR I could make myself miserable. I think I would rather enjoy myself......OFF to WALMART now as it is open early and we are out of ink .....which we need to make the T shirts that were suppose to be done yesterday..... OH WELL!!! Report
Thanks for the reminder. I feel guilty also if I take time away. Report
I have to say, I am glad I am not alone...haha, I could have wrote this article word or word Report
I 2 do every thing around my house from dishes, clothes, cleaning, cooking for my 15 yr. Old daugher and my self, to cutting the grass, fixing broken idems just like last week I came home to a broken hose pipe and a flooded back yardandwet dog anyway all of the repairs that never stop taking care of 10 yes I said ten animals cats and dog andmy 15 year old do not want to do anything except for money and a boyfriend who does nothing but complain when he does the dishes he leaves food on everything so why wash them he leaves dirty dishes in the cabint he forgot he put them there the wheel broke on the outside garbage can chris when are you going to fix the can it is too hard for me to push it to the street when are U going to clean the room chris it sticks in here do something about it and all he does is watch tv eat & sleep and I have to where ear plus because of the tv 3 rooms away and he won' leave I' lucky that I still have hair and he does all of this and has no job Report
Wow! You really hit the nail on the head with how I have been feeling lately in my marriage (and we don't even have kids yet!!). But during an argument with my Husband about how he doesn't help out enough he did bring up the valid point that whenever he does offer that I usually say "no thanks". So I guess we both could use to make some changes in that area..he needs to offer more/take more initiative with household tasks and I need to accept the help when it is offered. Live and learn. Report
OMG I can totaly related this to me. Thanks for sharing this for us. Report
As an only child, I am SELFISH to the core. So even though I am a mom, I come first, all the time. Report
I take care of my mother, my grandmother, my animals, my clients animals and volunteer at the SPCA once a month. I rarely have time to spend on me. Report
Well, the good news is that housework makes you live longer.
(Anyone else read the "active couch potato" article in last weekend's NYT?)
Take heart: never getting a chance to sit down is good for you! Report
Thank you so much for sharing this is just what I needed, a reminder the we are not super women & we need to make time for ourselves. Report
no wonder we're always so tired, right? Report
It's plain exhausting to be a mom. I work full time and have a 4 year old and 2 month old at home. I have a husband that is willing to do more than his share of the housework and childcare. But I still find myself having a hard time letting go. This time around, I'm make a more conscious effort to let my husband do things his way, without interfering. I also make time to myself a priority, but I still get pangs of guilt when I opt to take a bath instead of doing the dishes or making bottles for the next day. We did finally higher a maid service to come clean the house once a month. It helps!!
My husband may not do things the same way I do, but that doesn't mean they aren't right. While in the hospital after my c-section, Daddy was home with our 4 year old all week. You should have seen the outfits she wore! HA! Report
I won't lie and say that I don't feel like I do all the work for everyone all the time. But I also don't regret or ever feel guilty when I take time for myself (then again, I don't have any kids... yet). But what I do hate is that in my household (just myself and my husband), I'm the one who takes care of all the chores. He says he won't read my mind and when I tell him to do stuff, he'll do it. But if I ask him to clean the bathroom, it means he won't wipe down the floor because he had "no idea it was dirty." He's not trying to get out of chores, he just genuinely doesn't know. I kind of feel like I'm the mom training him to do chores. It's not that he doesn't want to help out around the house but it was the way he was raised (his mother did everything at home when he was growing up) so he has no idea how to keep a home. I REFUSE to let this be the case when we have kids. Report
Sounds like me I'm afraid - I am also quiet happy to do things myself as I know they are then done as I want. But I would so love a cleaner!!! Report
Getting your partner to participate equally is important to a healthy lifestyle for you both. He (or she) may see that you are looking tired, rundown, or running around but not know how to help. If you can get away from housework, that means more time spent doing things you love: hobbies, family time, going out, working out. You've got it right that it's important to have a good work/life balance, but inside life, a healthy arrangement is even better. No one wants to be doing all the chores, I think. :) Report
I'll have to admit I, too, took on most of those responsibilities myself. However, I did NOT feel guilty about time to myself. What changed my mind was seeing how much my husband improved as a parent when he had full responsibility. The only hard thing was keeping my nose out of their time. In other words, dirty faces, uncombed hair and very casual clothes.... I never criticized, 'cause I wasn't in charge. Now that they're all gone, I only have one problem. Now they want to talk to him more than they do me 'cause he was the "fun" parent.... and they made memories that'll last a lifetime. He was so much better than I was at not micromanaging their lives. Worth every minute. Report