Dealing with Breadwinner Guilt
Learning how to deal with breadwinner guilt is something I need as much as you do! I am really struggling with this right now. Please tell me I am not alone in this? What things go through your mind when dealing with breadwinner guilt?
What is breadwinner guilt?
Breadwinner guilt is when you are responsible for making at least 50% of the income in the home. Yet, being a mom, you still feel you're responsible for raising the children, doing the laundry, doing everything around the house, and managing all the things. You feel like you are being pulled in 95,000 different directions.
According to an NBC wall street journal poll, 49% of us working women serve as their family's main breadwinner. This includes an estimated 42% of women with children. And among those women who are married to or cohabitating with a male partner, 31% are earning at least half of their household income. So this is a lot of women that are in this position. I will tell you that it is very, very difficult.
In our house, Jeff and I work together in the business. Our main products are products that are run by me. I have the public facing role in the business, and Jeff is behind the scenes. Typically what ends up happening is that I'm working more hours,while trying to balance all the other things. Creating a schedule really helps!
Create A Schedule to Help With Breadwinner Guilt
You need to figure out how to create your work-from-home schedule, especially if both parents are home.
In my house, when I am working, Jeff is watching Erik and helping out with chores around the house. And, because of Erik’s sleep schedule, Jeff is the primary caregiver for Erik during the day.
How we’ve created our schedule so that I work in the morning and then I take over watching Erik in the afternoon while Jeff works. Then we both have family time in the evenings.
Your Mental Burden as A Mom
Your mental burden as a mom is almost impossible to give up and put on somebody else's plate. This mental load that you carry as a mom is all the things that you have to keep track of. You’re keeping track of of everyone's appointments and all those reoccurring things that need to get done. Even if you put them on calendars and make them recurring, there are certain things that you wonder “Did I do this? Of did this happen?” It's a lot to manage.
It's really interesting because in looking at the research, women breadwinners have less family life satisfaction, they have less marital satisfaction. It's amazing, how even today in 2020 we're still having this issue where female breadwinners just don't feel as satisfied.
When it comes to childcare responsibilities, married mothers who are the primary breadwinner in the house are also much more likely than fathers in the same role to take the lead in childcare responsibilities. Thirty-seven percent of women breadwinners take the lead in childcare, were as only 7% of breadwinner fathers do. It's interesting because there is still this disproportion of housework and childcare, even with two working parents in the house.
How Do We Balance Everything to Help with Breadwinner Guilt
So how do we balance this? You need to stay focused on one thing at a time. One thing that has really helped me to stay focused, is saying no. My work time is my work time. And my family time is my family time. And I cannot try to do them both at the same time. It does not work.
And so the one thing that you can do right now as you're preparing for what happens if school closes, or what happens if you decide to homeschool. If you're married, you need to sit down with your spouse and say, “Okay, how is this going to work? If school closes, what are we going to do?” And figure out how you can get on a schedule.
You need to Have Focus Time
Some of the women who joined my bookkeeping course can't find the time to get the work done, or the time to get their business set up. I have to tell them “You have to make that time.” “You've got to have some focus time. You've got to talk to your spouse and say, how are we going to make this work?”
Because a lot of times what you do is put it upon yourselves to make it work. It's not a team effort. It's an "I have to make it work" effort. And that's not the case. You DO NOT have to make it work. As a family, you ALL have to make it work. That is critically important. Stay focused, say no a lot. Do that for your sanity. I mentioned that in my last podcast episode on boundaries (check it out if you have not heard it yet). That's just something that you have to do.
Share The Chores to Help with Breadwinner Guilt
You have got to give up on your perfectionism. Decide who will do what. One thing that has really helped us is using FlyLady. She will help you get organized and clean up your house. Her strategies work really well. She is constantly talking about how it's not going to be perfect. It will get better than it was before. Just do the best that you can and give yourself grace.
What To Do When You Feel Stressed
When you're stressed, you have to talk to your spouse. This helps you split up the responsibilities. But it's really critical that your spouse understands that this is part of the job. Do not take on everything else in addition to working. Sit down figure out what will really help.
Prioritize Yourself and Your Marriage
When things get really crazy, it’s important to schedule time with your spouse and with yourself. Schedule time for self care, schedule date nights, even if your date night is at home. Order a delivery for when after your kids go to bed and just have dinner for both of you. Or hang out and watch a movie together, play a game together.
But you need to make time to do that. If you don’t, what often happens is that the resentment and the guilt for not being present grows and pulls you further back from your relationship with your spouse.
The Key To Marital Satisfaction
The key to marital satisfaction is jumping back into your marriage. As the saying goes “Happy life, Happy wife,” well I say "Happy husband, happy wife too". When you focus on your marriage both of you are happier and more willing to give more.
Dive into your marriage. Spend time with each other. Be newlyweds again. Because that is what's going to motivate you and your spouse to really dive back in. It will make your home a happy and healthy place. A place where you CAN get everything done.
When people are resentful and angry, they don't want to do things for the household. Recommitting to your marriage and recommitting to that relationship is what’s going to get things moving again in your household.
I find personally that when I start feeling guilty, when I start feeling bad, when things aren't going perfect in our marriage, I typically find that it's because I've checked out. I've checked out of my self care, my marriage and out of the things that make me happy. And when I check back into those things, that's when I find I create my best content, and our house is running well again.
Find What Makes You Happy
When you dive back into the things that make you happy, everything else will be better. If you dive back into your marriage, if you dive back into your family, if you dive back into your self care, everything else is going to work a little bit better.
And so no matter what happens, give yourself some grace. Stop seeking perfection and lean into those things that are going to make you happy. You won’t feel so guilty and everything will be running a little bit better and life will be better. So try it out. The breadwinner guilt is normal, you're not alone.
Find that thing that charges you back up and do it. Because that will help you with the breadwinner guilt. It really does.
I’d love to hear what strategies you’ve put in place to help you with breadwinner guilt. Comment below!