What best describes your childhood
Column by Katrin Anna
The alarm clock rings at 6:00 a.m. Five minutes earlier, Kiddo woke up: “Maaaama! When do you stand up ?! "
06:01 am, drowsy: "Hmmm ??!"
06:01:15 am: “WAKE UP !!! I have HUUUUNGER! "
Good Morning. Like every morning.
It is now 6:15 am and I've done the emotional work for a whole day. Anger, sadness, curiosity, joy, hunger, thirst, pee, love, cuddling ... all of which one cannot do in a good ten minutes.
So I get up. Shaky. First mental review of the daily plan already done. Today is not just a normal working day, today is an early appointment. However, no work appointment, but a pediatrician before the wage work. Because the institutions are rigid. Kindergarten starts at 9 a.m. at the latest. Start of work: actually 9 a.m., maximum 10 a.m., depending on the appointments and the urgency of leaving the office. So always urgent, because the kindergarten has equally rigid closing times. The pick-up habits and what they do with Kiddo further reinforce this rigidity. That means stress. Flexitime or not. How long will I have to wait, when will I leave the office to pick up Kiddo from kindergarten? Oh wait, today I have to work long hours anyway, the babysitter fetches Kiddo because I have an appointment until 7 p.m. (at least). And the kindergarten closes at 5:30 p.m. (a luxury compared to others!). So a short reinsurance message to the babysitter and think about what else needs to be prepared accordingly. Pack your rucksack, keys ...
"Maaaammmaaaa! I! have! HUNGER!!!"
„Working mum's death " and mandalas.
This text fragment has been on my hard drive for weeks and months. I wanted to write a text about parenting and work. And - once again - I drowned so much in work, care, emotional and intellectual work that I did everything, but didn't write any further. In my last text, I wrote about the fact that, despite being a responsible parent, I feel embedded in a wonderful (chosen) family. And still I whistle from the last hole. No happy melodies. "Motherhood often goes hand in hand with reduced mental well-being," is the title of a study by the German Institute for Economic Research. Specifically, it is about "mental stress, social withdrawal, depressive moods and feelings of fear as psycho-emotional risks of motherhood", especially in the first seven years of the child's life. And yes, that describes it pretty well. Basically, this affects all mothers, because the stereotypes of “career mothers” (positive and negative), “bad mothers” and, on the contrary, “ideal of motherhood” affect people who read women in the overwhelming majority. Likewise the “caring stigma” or the “motherhood penalty”. All in all, this results in a “norm-related field of tension which formulates unattainable expectations of mothers”, as the DIW study sums up. Because, according to the study, it is these social ideals of motherhood and their areas of tension that are the real main problem. These ideals, embedded in language, social institutions, tax systems, relationships, and much more. build up infinite pressure and massively restrict.
In Germany there is an institution of its own for the countless exhausted mothers: the Müttergenestungswerk. There mother-child cures can be applied for in order to make mothers and children fit again for the performance society. And for in between, the convalescence work recommends painting mandalas, packaged as a competition. I don't know now whether it was meant seriously or whether it was sarcastic, at least I couldn't think of anything more to do with it. Painting mandalas as a preventive measure against burnout based on ideals of the performance society as a competitive offer to the mothers of Germany. All right.
In the end I'm alone.
But does this affect all mothers equally? No. Because even though I recently pleaded for more solidarity among parents, regardless of the way of life, single-parent families are much more threatened here. Because we, more precisely me:
- work me stupid and stupid. So that I can compensate for all the worse conditions that are real. So that my child has at least financially comparable opportunities. Because it's wonderful and it can't do anything for me or the society into which I was born.
- I am also an employer, because nothing works for me without babysitting in addition to the free support I receive from friends and family.
- have 50% of the days of care leave compared to couple-parent families. Because children with one parent only get sick half as often? At least I get sick less. At least officially, because I simply can't afford it.
- depend 100% on my income, 100%.
- I have very little chance of finding a new job if I lose my current job. Because, according to common thinking, I am inflexible and not 100% efficient.
“Having to think of everything alone and having to do everything alone is stressful.” Writes Mareice Kaiser in “The Discomfort of the Modern Mother.” We are all affected by the infamous “mental load”. And sometimes, actually often, I keep myself afloat that at least I've always been responsible for everything. There was and is no one to delegate anything. The question of whether the partner's to-do list has been processed as another to-do on my list is also irrelevant. In the end, I'm always alone, but at least as expected.
That scares you. Existential fear. Because what if I can't take it anymore? What if the child gets sick? Or - worse still - if I get sick? Questions that not only I, as a family supporter, i.e. an employee, ask me, but also employers. But with other conclusions. So far so clear, the perspective is different. But is that really it? Does it all have to be like that? Always work, everything is timed, get up early, early in kindergarten or school, early at work, work, work, work, preferably even longer, fast kindergarten / school, pick up the child, meet other families, “No, playground is still possible today unfortunately not enough, next week maybe? ”, shopping, going home, cooking,“ playing ”on the side (“ ”, because who can seriously name the ten to 20 minutes that I usually have to spend without a second or third job ), eat, get ready for bed, read, sleep, wash clothes, hang up laundry, move Lego out of the way, at least in strategically important places, make preparations for tomorrow, list to-dos, check off too few, decide, now it's over, me need something for me, want to write text, fall asleep on the couch in front of the laptop, end. Repeat.
Where is my plane to pick up Kiddo from kindergarten?
Honestly? I don't have to become more efficient and flexible. I also laugh weeping at the ideas for the 60-hour week of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (by the way, where is my plane?) I live the “don't ask me how many hours” week. Every damn day. "Let's look at each other" it says in the video. Wonderful! That would be a real alternative. After all, relieving the burden on families by changing social regimes is not only due to politics, as Mareice Kaiser writes. This is also, and to a large extent, due to the economy and employers. “It's time to change the daylight saving time!” Yes! Oh yeah! We are more efficient, more productive, more concentrated and more focused than ever. With my smartphone, I can sometimes do more work in the 20 minutes to the office by public transport than I used to do in a whole morning. And presence in many professions can already be achieved through digital presence. How many hours are already being worked in this way today, often free of charge because on the side? Does this affect all professional fields? No. But even with the exceptions, there would certainly be solutions if it were worth it to us. After six hours, the ability to concentrate drops rapidly. We have known that for a long time. This is problematic and risky, especially in the very rigid professional groups such as care or construction / industry in terms of working and attendance time. Not just for the employees and their families - for all of us. And yet there is now a 12-hour day in Austria (instead of a maximum of 10) or the 60-hour week, Elon Musk even fantasizes about the 80-hour week to change the world, but needs more, 100, more 120 hours are realistic.
Work-life balance? Written off. But I've never liked the term. Because work is more than wage labor. And balance doesn't work as a one-way street. Something has to come from both sides in working life so that balance can be achieved. If the working conditions are not right, I can still paint as many mandalas, do yoga, or whatever is recommended for parents to compensate. As long as one side only demands, but does not implement the demands itself, the hamster wheel will never stand still for me, I can only rush on or be thrown out. Both mean high, too high costs. Not just for me, for all of us. And especially for kiddo. Because my everyday life, my work, is Kiddo's childhood.
My world-changing # employer wish for Christmas 2018 would be completely different: Dear employers, please give us the flexibility, creativity and efficiency that you expect from us as employees. Think about 30 hours a week, home office, job sharing, flexible working hours, the value of our work and appropriate remuneration. You can do it, we can do it too.
Katrin, * 1980, one child (* 2012), have lived in pairs since the beginning of the pregnancy. 40+ hour job in the social / educational sector. Write when she doesn't fall asleep while reading and would like to be more politically active again in offline life.
Contribution picture (c) Katrin Anna
for further reading:
Katrin Anna: "One, but not alone": A request for a name change
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