As I sit down to watch a movie on a Saturday night with my washing just dropped off cleaned, dried and the ironing done, I thought back on the question most commonly asked of me when people find out I don’t actually run this website full time. When people find out I am actually working as a manager at a university and work long hours in a demanding job, over an hour away from home.
The question I am most commonly asked is this: How do you do it?
I don’t clean my own house. I only do one load of washing a week. Sometimes I eat cereal for dinner and sometimes I lie on the sofa and mainline Friends instead of doing anything useful with my time.
Some Saturdays I sleep in far later than I should and some Sundays I spend the whole day desperately trying to get on top of the tidying, organising and blogging I need to do for the week in the knowledge that as soon as I sit down at my desk 7:40am Monday morning, I am unlikely to get anything done that isn’t part of my day job for the rest of that week.
For some reason many people seem to be ashamed of admitting that.
We are a generation of feminists raised by feminists who still expect ourselves to be all things to all people. Who still expect ourselves to be able to do it all on our own.
I feel like we’re the first generation who are as isolated as we are. Who spend more time online than talking to our neighbours. Who don’t have a network of other women to lean on when we can’t do it alone.
It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that rates of mental illness are rising in line with the epidemic of overwork. We’re one of the worst nations in the world for overwork, working longer and longer hours and expecting nothing extra for it.
We look at our mothers who were able to cook, clean, run a house, be good mothers and hold a part time or full time job and we remember them being at our school carnivals* or picking us up from school.
How many of us actually have the luxury to be able to do that? How many of us are, instead, scrambling to get through the door in time for dinner and desperately trying to get dinner on the table.
So why is there still a stigma about outsourcing parts of our lives?
There shouldn’t be. If you work long hours in a hard job, I hereby give you permission to hire a cleaner, to have your washing done by someone else when it gets on top of you, to pay someone to do the things you just don’t have time to do. I give you permission to buy a $2000 kitchen appliance if it makes getting healthy food on the table a little easier. I give you permission to ignore the corner of the house that’s messy or dirty until you have the mental space to deal with it.
You don’t have to be perfect. Your house doesn’t have to be perfect. And you don’t have to have it all done all the time.
It’s time to give yourself permission to fail.
I promise you – nobody cares. And if they do? Tell them to piss off.
Do you do it all? Do you outsource? Would you have a cleaner?