I watched an episode of that ABC show – “Back in time for dinner”. It’s a show focussing on the changing times and trends over the last 60 years. Ostensibly it looks at how our diet changed during that time. It’s also a fascinating reflection on the change in societal norms and the role of women, in the home and elsewhere. It got me thinking, it was in the 70s we started taking on the impossible. It was at this stage that women first began trying to manage two worlds with one pair of hands. So it must now be time to hang up your Superwoman cape.
The episode I saw portrayed the 70s – that time of change in Australia when women started entering the work force, and this apparently meant our diet changed to quick, easy things served up out of tins…
What’s particularly interesting to note, though is that while the woman in this episode was thrilled to escape the home and get out into the workforce, she was still faced with the same demands of her family when she returned home. That is, she was still expected to do all the cooking and cleaning. She was also expected to go on being the good wife that did whatever she could to support her husband’s career progression.
Has anything changed in 60 years?
Which makes me ask the question, what’s actually changed over the last nearly 6 decades?
Ok, so here’s the disclaimer, I am going to talk about generalised trends here. I know there are exceptions to the rule, and I am happy to note that these exceptions are becoming more common. But the fact of the matter is, the overall trend seems to have remained the same.
Women can be in the workforce, and develop careers. In fact, I would venture as far as saying, that to meet the “Australian Dream” women actually have to be in the workforce. But in many instances, there is still a major disparity in wages, opportunities for advancement – and the expectation that in the home, most women still do the bulk of the domestic, nurturing and caretaking role.
I see a lot of burn out in my clinic — women striving to be all things to all people, and to still achieve their own personal goals and dreams (those that can remember what their dreams were). This is particularly prevalent for small business, sole traders and mumpreneurs where the additional pressure to keep performing to keep the money rolling in is almost unbearable.
When did Superwoman take up residence?
I also see it a lot on Facebook. So many brave posts from working mums seeking support and recognition of their very real struggle to be Superwoman: the subtext is often, “help I’m struggling and I don’t know why I’m not equipped to do this as effortlessly as all the people around me seem to”. They choose to present a public face that says, “See, I can look after sick kids, meet ridiculous deadlines, and do what it takes to keep the money rolling in, but how do I keep the kids occupied so I can focus on getting through what needs to get done?”
From my perspective, it’s all starting to feel a bit unreal. There is even more pressure on individuals, families and communities to keep up the appearances that all is well, super-shiny and perfect, while under the surface many are heading towards disaster.
The most valuable thing you can do in this situation is develop the skill of inner listening. For some people, this comes with relative ease, for others it can take a little more time and effort to hear and understand the guidance of your inner wisdom. The first step is to find balance.
Here are 3 tips to finding balance
- Take off your Superwoman Cape. It’s artificial and holds you locked in an endless cycle of not being quite good enough.
- Come into true alignment with your personal values. Forcing yourself to work in a framework that doesn’t sit comfortably with you erodes your self-identity.
- Give yourself a break. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. Develop the courage to reach for support when you need it.