Why Do Women Take On Too Much?

This summer, we joined a homeschooling group.  I met Stacy and liked her immediately.  She is a mom to three kids, like me, and her kids are close in age to mine.  She has a bubbly personality, and she takes an active role in the homeschool group.  She hosts three different activities at her house every month for the group, and her children are also involved in several extracurricular activities.

When I first met Stacy, she was the picture of health.  Then, I noticed in October that she sounded like she had a cold and looked exhausted.

The cold never went away.  The last time I saw her, about a week ago, she was still battling the cold and could barely speak because she had lost her voice.  Her mom had flown in from out of state to help watch the kids so Stacy could have some down time and focus on getting better.

When I asked Stacy about her situation, she simply said, “I was so run down after last winter, so I took care of myself this past summer.  I took time off to relax.  By August I was feeling great, so I felt like I could take on more.  I took on too much, and now I’m exhausted and sick again.”

Stacy isn’t alone in feeling that way.

Working Too Much

Unlike Stacy, my health is fine, but I’m feeling stress when it comes to my freelance work.  Maintaining the right workload is somewhat of a juggling act when I’m also homeschooling.  A few months ago, some great freelance projects came along that I couldn’t say no to.

And now, I’m overwhelmed.

Just like Stacy, I was in this predicament about a year ago.  I had great jobs, but I had too many of them, so I scaled back on my work.

For a few months, I had the perfect level of work, the perfect balance between home and career.  Like Stacy, I felt great. . .great enough to take on more work.  And like Stacy, I’m running myself ragged again.

Why do women do this to themselves?

Why Do Women Over Schedule?

Women over schedule themselves for different reasons, but there are some common themes.

People Pleasers

Some may argue that women are more likely to be people-pleasers than men, so they’re more likely to take on tasks that they shouldn’t take on.  When asked if they can make a dessert for the church bake sale, they agree, even though they’re busy.  They think, “It’s just a small thing.”  But saying yes too many times, even to the small things, makes for a great deal of work.

Women Do Many of the Household Chores

Others will argue that women still do most of the household chores, so they have more duties than men.  This includes the chores we all think about like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry.  But there are other chores we don’t think of.  Pamela Smock, a sociology professor at the University of Michigan, says women typically also handle “kin work, which means who sends out holiday cards, who has to get on the phone with the in-laws to make arrangements for Thanksgiving” (NBC News).

My husband is great about doing household chores, but I (like many other women) handle much of the kin work for our family.  I make sure to get the kids’ picture taken for the holiday cards and send them out.  I send out photos to relatives after we go on vacation.  I help the kids write thank you notes when they get presents.  On and on it goes.

In addition, I get other responsibilities that aren’t even on his radar like menu planning, making a grocery list, and doing a budget as well as reconciling our accounts every month.

Women Should Learn from Men

If you’re an overbooked, overscheduled, stressed out mom (like Stacy and me), take a clue from the men in your life.  Debora Spar, author of Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, states, “Men, somehow, for whatever reason, seem to be better able to pick and choose, to focus on things they like and that are important to them, and let the other things go” (NBC News).

If you’re a woman, do you regularly over schedule yourself and suffer the consequences?  If you’re a man, are you better able to maintain a manageable schedule?



Why Do Women Take On Too Much? — 2 Comments

  1. I definitely have the tendency to say yes to everything and take on too much at a time! I’m always a time optimist and think it’ll take less time to get things done that it actually will… I do feel very fortunate though that my husband is an equal partner in all of our household tasks. Plus, he’s the cook, which I’m deeply grateful for!

  2. Once you let yourself become a doormat, people will see you that way until you wake up and change your ways. Great article! Women wake up at different points in their lives. Trust me ladies, the sooner, the better! 🙂

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