Household chores are real work. One that no one pays for or thanks for. Today we discuss, What Is Housewife Syndrome And How To Deal With It?
What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of a housewife? Most likely, you imagine a woman in a beautiful dress and full make-up flitting around the kitchen. Commercials and propagandists have been creating this picture for many years — their efforts make household duties seem like easy entertainment and a dream of any girl, and a housewife – like a happy idler.
But the reality is very different. Women who devote themselves entirely to the home often feel unhappy and even suffer from mental disorders. Let’s find out why this is the case.
What is housewife syndrome?
The term was first used by the American writer, researcher and activist Betty Friedan in her book The Feminine Mystique. It was 1963, and by that time American politicians, journalists and marketing experts had already reproduced the image of the ideal family, where men build careers and make money, and women fly around the house in fancy dresses and raise healthy, smiling babies. But the reality was not so radiant.
For some reason, “happy” housewives started going to doctors complaining of exorbitant fatigue, headaches, depression and even suicidal thoughts. At first, no one took their words seriously, and the cause of all the problems was thought to be suffrage, unskilled household appliance repairmen.
The women grew louder and louder: the family magazine Redbook created a column “Why Young Mothers Feel Trapped” which was open to female readers and received more than 20,000 responses. Based on these responses, the book Why Young Mothers Feel Trapped: A Redbook Documentary was later released.
The condition that the housewives suffered from has never been officially named, it is not included in medical or psychological handbooks. But doctors and the public have been forced to acknowledge that it is not easy for people who devote themselves entirely to housework and parenthood. And here’s why:
- They are more likely to suffer from depression, sadness, anger and anxiety disorders – this was found out after a survey of 60,000 mothers, some of whom work and some of whom stay at home with their children.
- They are more likely to have eating disorders.
- Sometimes such women even suffer from agoraphobia and are afraid to leave the house
- Also, according to some experts, 80% of all antidepressants consumed by women are ‘housewives’.
In addition, signs of housewife syndrome may include:
- A feeling of uselessness
- Anhedonia – diminished capacity for pleasure
- Extreme fatigue
- Suicidal thoughts
Why does housewife syndrome arise?
Meaningless and unpaid work
Not so long ago, our public started proposing that housewives should be paid a minimum wage. But until that happens, such work remains hard, unpaid and completely ungrateful. A working person is rewarded with money and, if he or she performs well, with praise and promotion. Housewives are most often neither financially rewarded nor thanked.
At the same time, in most Indian families, women are responsible for absolutely all household chores. And even with the advent of washing machines (which still do not sort and hang laundry), multi-cookers (they do not buy food, clean vegetables or chop meat), dishwashers and robot vacuum cleaners (not all families can afford them), housework takes up a lot of time and effort.
Moreover, it never comes to an end and is therefore not satisfying. Housewives wash dishes and floors, dust and tidy up shelves, only to do it all over again in a day or two or a week. And so on in a circle, year after year. It can demoralise a person and rob them of the will to live.
Lack of implementation
Surely some people consider it their task to take care of their home, family, and children. For them, the work of a housewife, quite possibly, brings joy and satisfies their need for self-actualization.
But this does not apply to those who have ambitions outside the home and family. Wasting time on cooking and cleaning, such people do not have time to devote to the things that are important to the – work, hobbies, creativity, travel and so on. Of course, this knocks the ground out from under them, pulls them into a vortex of exhaustion and leads to apathy, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Neglected by others
If you look at how the media, marketers and scriptwriters present the image of the housewife, you might get the impression that she is either a cheerful fairy or a silly slacker with a bad temper who watches soap operas all day long.
No wonder society treats housewives with negligence.
What they do does not count as real work, and such women can easily hear something like ” What do you do in the first place? You just sit at home all day!” Of course, this doesn’t make housewives feel positive. There are, however, some positive developments in this area. Recently, there have been many bloggers and communities who talk about the burdens of housework and motherhood and show the real life of housewives.
In addition to cleaning, shopping and childcare, housewives have responsibilities that no one else notices. The invisible workload of modern mothers is called “invisible labour”. These are many small tasks that add up to tedious work – book tickets, make shopping lists, plan family vacations, make sure that the child always has clothes of the right size and season, and so on.
All these managerial and supportive functions are taken for granted – is it difficult to call the doctor or buy overalls for the baby online? – But they also take up a lot of time and emotional energy. Because a person has to keep a thousand such little things in mind all the time and cannot relax – otherwise the children will be left without presents and vaccinations, and the whole family will be left without rest and dinner.
What to do if being a housewife makes you uncomfortable?
It is important to understand: Is this role really the right one for you? Maybe you feel that being a housewife is your vocation, and you are generally comfortable being a housewife, but sometimes you feel homesick and depressing. It’s worth thinking about how you can vary your daily tasks and which activities can cheer you up and inspire you. These could be hobbies and interests, additional education or even a part-time job.
By taking time for yourself and your interests, you will not get into a vortex of exhaustion and can prevent burnout.
The basic idea is not to strive for perfection and simply combine household chores and hobbies or work comfortably.
It is also possible that the transition to housewife status was a forced or not very conscious move. For example, a child was not provided with a place in kindergarten in time. Or a woman has listened to Vedic gurus who tell her that her true purpose is motherhood and housework. Or she simply got tired of carrying both work and household chores and thought it would be easier.
But in the process, it turns out that the role of a housewife doesn’t suit her at all, that she wants to make a career, and that doing the laundry, cooking and taking the kids to school makes her unhappy. In such a situation, the solution is obvious: go back to work whenever possible. And at the same time talk to your partner about an adequate division of household duties.