Mentor Monday: Just Say No to Slavery! (The Superwoman Myth Debunked)

Terri LevineBy Terri Levine

Far from freeing themselves, many women have enslaved themselves between family and career commitments, further tying themselves up trying to be Superwoman.

If you are not wealthy and particularly if your partner doesn’t have a high paid career, it is inevitable that you may  also be holding a full time position, as mortgage payments have to be met, children have to be fed, clothed, schooled, etc.

Perhaps you are also working a full time job while trying to build a home based business, or maybe you are working full time at getting your home based off the ground.  Either way, and whether you have other family obligations or not, you may be trying in vain to keep your house in order, do it all, and look like you’re having fun.

Life needn’t be so difficult.  We sometimes make it harder for ourselves when we try to be all things to all people, when we try to meet other’s expectations and demands, and when we try to fulfill what we believe are our obligations in life.

Times have changed. Did our grandmothers put in a full day “in the office”, often requiring overtime, then rush home to be a “full time” mother and caregiver, cooking, cleaning, nurturing?  What makes us believe we can do it all?  Why are we so hard on ourselves when we can’t?  Why do we think we are failing if we don’t?  Who told us we could and should not only do it all but do it perfectly?  Do we believe the myth that every other woman out there is doing it, so we must be able to as well?  Do we believe untruths… stories of women who don’t want to admit they are not superwomen, so they’re stretching it a little?  “Hey, look at me!  I’m doing this, that, and the other!” (“Well, I’m not really, but I don’t want you to know that!”)

If you look at these so-called successful families, you may well find the successful career woman doesn’t “have it all”.  Working women sacrifice time with their children, just as fathers do, to bring in the extra money that makes living in a nice house possible, attending private schools, having expensive dancing lessons, sporting activities, etc.  These days, if you want your child to “have it all”, it usually means both parents have to work to make it happen.

Then those career women whose income is swallowed up by mortgages and educating and entertaining their children, come home and not always able to afford housekeepers, have to clean the house, cook, wash, iron, and do it all themselves.  Their children are playing. Their husband may be watching TV, reading or playing golf.

Where is the “me” time?  While these hard working women burn the candle at both ends, where is the time for them to just chill, relax, recharge their batteries, and enjoy any of the money their effort is producing?  Hopefully, in this modern day, the husband is pulling his weight, but we know that doesn’t always happen.

Husbands should be able to work a vacuum cleaner and do the floors and carpets, and unless children are very young, they should be able to help tidy up, especially their rooms, and help dust.  As for the rest, are out-dated ideas of housekeeping making us slaves to the routine? Can we do things differently that gets the job done but also gives us some “me” time?  Yes, we can, and here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. When you wash your clothes, when dry fold them immediately and put them away to avoid unnecessary wrinkles and mess as the “ironing” builds up.
  2. What are you ironing?  Clothes are the only things that need ironing – not towels or bed sheets!  Who is going to see those things?  You’ll wrinkle them the moment you first use them.
  3. Only iron your clothes as you need them.  How often do you iron something, put it away, and when you go to wear it, discover it has become creased and has to be ironed again?  Why do it twice?  Better still, buy clothes that don’t require ironing – wash and wear.
  4. You should have a dishwasher… if you don’t, don’t waste time drying after you’ve washed. Just leave them in the rack for an hour – they will dry themselves and then you can put them away.
  5. Get into a routine so you don’t find on the weekends, when you do have more time to enjoy leisure and family activities, that you are spending great wads of it doing housework.  Spread the chores out over the week doing a little bit each day. Clean as you go. Clean the shower while you are in there – one job less you have to do later.
  6. Have a family “clean” day once a month when everyone pitches in and helps clean the house, windows, etc. and tidy up the garden.  Why leave it all for one person to do?  How is that fair?
  7. Don’t have a cluttered house. Instead of all those unnecessary ornaments and picture frames lying around gathering dust, put the photos in albums and have uncluttered and clean spaces that you can more quickly dust and the lack of clutter will give the illusion of tidiness.
  8. Children need space to play and make a mess and often it is not practical to put their toys/games away after each session because it is ongoing and you’d be doing it every day… do you not have a games room where they can leave their toys out?  If not, do you have a spare room nobody is using?  Remove anything in it and convert it to a room where your children can play and you can shut the door and nobody has to see “the mess”.  Otherwise, arrange your furniture to split the room so they can “play” in an area behind the sofa, leaving the rest of the room “tidy”.
  9. Prepare meals in advance or cook double and save half.  In winter you can pre-cook/freeze casseroles and soups – make double the amount and freeze half, and in summer, you can make containers of salads that will last a few days.  Save the time consuming recipes for the weekend.
  10. Never feel that you have to do it all yourself.  Train your teenagers to help around the house and learn to iron their clothes.  Your husband should be pulling his weight or helping pay for hired help who can do some of it for all of you.  That’s the key – it is everyone’s responsibility to “run the home” – not just yours – unless of course you don’t work and running the home is all you have to do.                                                                                                                                                       Terri LevineTerri Levine, The Business Mentoring Expert, specializes in helping entrepreneur-owned businesses achieve record-breaking growth. Based in Philadelphia, Terri is founder and CEO of Comprehensive Coaching U, Inc., The Professional’s Coach Training Program. She has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNBC and MSNBC, and in more than 1,500 publications. She is the best-selling author of Sell Without Selling, Coaching is for Everyone and Stop Managing Start Coaching. Learn more at Contact Terri at

2 Responses to "Mentor Monday: Just Say No to Slavery! (The Superwoman Myth Debunked)"

  • Rebecca says:
Leave a Comment