In our mostly patriarchal society, there’s no doubt that it’s harder for women than men to get by, let alone get to the top of their respective career ladders. Our very laws and societal norms are geared towards serving men, often leaving women with similar skill levels and abilities in the dust of patriarchal advancement. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that it’s impossible to balance career and family life if you’re a woman, nor does it mean that the only way out of this conundrum is to replace all male world leaders with equally capable females. The phrase smash the patriarchy isn’t about waging an all-out revolution against all men; it’s about equalizing the playing field: giving women the same rights and privileges that men enjoy on a daily basis.
Share the Burden of Childcare with Men
No matter how much you enjoy raising your children, it’s still a very real job that’s mostly done at home instead of in an office. “Sharing the burden” doesn’t mean that you have to view childcare as a burden to your life; it’s more about acknowledging the fact that childcare requires just as much time, effort, and energy as any other job that’s worth doing right. And in the case of a massively consuming job like childcare, both men and women need to be able to contribute equal amounts of time and energy.
Men should be just as responsible for childcare as women. This means that they should do their fair share of childcare, whether they have full-time jobs or not. In a world where the odds are stacked against women, male allies of feminism need to be able to step up and help out women in any way they can; sometimes, this starts with sharing the responsibility of raising the children right.
Demand both Maternity and Paternity Rights
While a lot of European countries have laws that allow for more than 30 weeks of paid maternity leaves, the US is sadly far behind. And if the very laws of your country don’t cater to your being a mother, what can you possibly do? Demand and fight for your god-given rights.
While it’s a lot easier said than done, collective mass action has been highly effective at making people’s lives better in the past. Write a letter to your local legislator. Ask your fellow employees for support as you engage your employer in talking about your rights as a parent. Don’t stop at demanding paid maternity leaves – paid paternity leaves can go a long way towards freeing up overburdened women and making men take a more supportive role in raising children. This type of action is definitely going to take up a lot of your time and energy, but if you do it right, you’re not just making it easier on yourself, you’re paving the way for future generations to treat mothers and all parents with more dignity.
Invest in Your Own Mental and Physical Health
The art of balancing work and family can lead some women to forget themselves and their own health. While this may seem like a good idea at first, it’s actually the worst possible step that you can take as both a career woman and as a parent. If you keep neglecting sleep, exercise, and relaxation in favor of doing more work so you can provide for your family, soon enough, you’re going to burn yourself out. And when that happens, you’re not going to be any good to yourself, your career, and your child.
Treat sleep, exercise, and relaxation in the same way that you regard your career and your duties as a parent. Taking care of yourself is just as important (if not more so) than anything else that’s important enough to make it onto your daily/weekly schedule. No matter how busy you are, you need to make time for getting enough sleep, exercise, and engaging in relaxing activities to keep yourself mentally and physically fit.
If Peter Mutuc isn’t sculpting, writing, editing, drawing, skating, cycling, wrestling with his Labrador, or actively regulating his sleeping patterns through at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise, he’s usually just online, creating and developing web content for One Bed Mattress.