In a study that measures high-stress levels in married women, more than 7,000 mothers revealed that husbands stress them as much as their kids. The women were asked questions related to what causes them stress, the distribution of household responsibilities and their life with husband and kids, which resulted in these findings. Interestingly, according to the study, 46 per cent of the respondents claimed that their husbands gave them more stress than kids. The average stress level of a mother was 8.5 out of 10. Three out of every four participants admitted that they were majorly responsible for all the household work and parenting duties. Not just this, one out of five revealed that they did not get enough help from their partners and complained about the paucity of time to complete their works.
The study, done by a website, also shows that single mothers have higher levels of stress as compared to married ones.
Is it a healthy trend to always assign household responsibilities to the woman at home? When there is a baby to look after, isn’t it the responsibility of the partner to understand the situation and share the works accordingly? Are women over thinking and taking stress as they want to give the best to their kids as well as the family? What are the possible measures that can be taken to help the mothers reduce their stress, especially when they are single? We ask counsellors, doctors, single mothers and married mothers.
Share the duties with partner
My journey of motherhood with my twin boys has been a roller-coaster ride. Women are responsibility grabbers; as a perfectionist, I don’t compromise on quality and the money spent. We as women make sure that we have more knowledge on buying groceries or baby products than our husbands. We also do it more carefully. We look for offers and buy in bulk to save money from the monthly budget. Hence we take the sole responsibility on ourselves and assure our husbands that we can do this job better than them. Both the parents are responsible for the baby’s upbringing. But we ladies always feel that we are more responsible, more protective and more keen on cleanliness — be it feeding the baby, changing the diapers and so on. We don’t give a chance to the husbands even to really give it a try. Thus, fathers believe we really can do it better than them, so they drift from taking the responsibility even when they are offered later. And so, we drag more stress towards us. Come, let’s pat our abilities, which we don’t do. When the baby cries, we are the first ones to run to comfort the baby; we don’t wait till our husband gets up. I personally feel that this nature should be worked on.According to me, the remedies for this are, firstly we should be taking things at ease. Second, we should educate our husbands on how to really take care of the baby. Then, allow them to face real-timesituations; only then will they find ways to handle it on their own. For instance, allow him to go when the baby is crying, wait patiently and see how he can settle the child. Mothers need good sound sleep with good nutritional food. As we care more for the family than
ourselves, this will enhance our energy levels as well.
– Dr. Sangeetha Amarnath, sociologist
Role change is a reality
An African proverb says, it takes a village to raise a child. Looking at the current shift from a joint family set-up to nuclear family, the situation has given birth to role change. Both parents are equally responsible for their child’s well-being. The shift in society to single parents and single-child family structures has led to confused roles. Both parents are ambitious, however, still majorly it’s a woman’s role to look after the household chores, irrespective of her working outside.
Men work long hours and they come home frustrated. Jobs in India demand too much from employees, with minimal salaries, which is one of the major reasons why fathers do not participate in household duties.
I am not a feminist, I believe in equality thus, it is important that men and women share duties. The major reason for kids right from the age of four coming for counselling is that they are left to nannies. Kids miss out on family time — spending daily quality time with their parents. I don’t blame the parents either. In the race to give their kids a better life, they work day and night at the cost of missing out on their kids’ childhood. Sad but true.
– Guntasha Sangla,counsellor with a school
High expectations induce stress
According to me, the issues mostly start when women start overthinking about being a perfect mom and wife. Stress, which is internal, causes them to think that they are overburdened by various jobs, which is the reason why they can’t do even one properly. Managing household chores and a job will not be a big deal for them unless internal stress takes a toll. The husband might be asking the wife to do the same things that he used to tell her before they had a child. However, when the wife becomes a mother and is preoccupied with her baby, these expectations seem to be stressful for her. There can be many reasons for the internal stress and for a woman, after childbirthhormones play an important role in her behaviour and thoughts. Women who successfully gain control over their emotional health are alsosuccessful in maintaining physical health and thus don’t get tired of managing the house, husband and kids. In the case of single mothers, this stress level again increases because some help that the married woman gets from her family is not available to them. One of the solutions that women can adopt is, never stop loving yourself after you get married and have kids. As for the husband, he should try and understand that his wife is going through a stage wherein hormones are the reason behind her mood swings.
– Kala, psychologist
Problems should be discussed
When a girl reaches a new home, her life transforms completely. Even today, household chores and looking after the family are considered as the sole responsibility of a daughter-in-law. These adjustments will take a toll on the husband-wife relationships, if not handled properly. Husbands expect that daughters-in-law will become a daughter in a wink, whereas mothers-in-law take their time to change into a mother. And then come the kids. In some cases, husband cooperates in taking care of kids. So, changing diapers, night watch of kids and other things become easy. Many times, women face these hardships alone. For working women, the stress is double. Managing and taking care of children with career is mentally tiring. They swing between career and family. It’s always better if couples openly discuss any creeping issues. They should not wait for things to turn sour. Single ladies face even more difficulties. Their children suffer most. It’s better that a girl should think multiple times about her prospective groom and his family before marriage. All responsible family members should actively participate in case a problem arises between the
couple — instead of being mute spectators — to keep them committed towards marriage.
– Madhumita Mandal, doctor and author