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Women in the family: Advent, Advent, the mother runs


The pre-Christmas period is the culmination of the family organization - and brings especially mothers every year to the brink of nervous breakdown. Why is this so today? And how can we finally change that?

November is the month when middle-aged women spend their time in supermarkets in front of the so-called quengelware, spending their lunch break in one-euro shops and exchanging secret sources of sugar-free tattoos in the elevator. Affected people know what they are talking about: On November 30, the Advent calendar for the children must be ready.

Thanks to Greta, this year they are reluctant to buy meaningless plastic parts, which has increased the demands on the task of getting 24 or 48, or even 72 well-thought-out small particles. In most families, it is the mothers who take care of it, because it is often they who plan next month and know the preferences and possessions of their children.

Mom with magic powers

In general, they seem to possess supernatural powers. You can tell from the office if bread is still at home, they know where the tesa film is, even though they are filling the washing machine, and have not only put all the dental appointments in their heads but also in such a way that they can not compete with judo. Training still conflict with the parents' day. One suspects why men used to accuse women of witchcraft.

But the absurd climax of the family organization is yet to come: the pre-Christmas period. Ironically, the weeks, which are dubbed the most beautiful time of the year, bring mothers to the limits of their ability. In the Schweinsgalopp and with an increasing daily to-do-list they rush through their few free hours. An Advent wreath must be made - homemade or bought? First gift requests from grandmas and grandfathers are coming in. Of course, they end up with the mother. And the old gentlemen are helpless: where do you get that? Can not you get that right now?

In the background lurks the difficult question, which Christmas holiday is spent with whom - and what do we eat when? (Shopping List!). Oops, Nicholas gifts! Should the postman have a little something for Christmas, or would it be more honest to give something to the parcel carrier? And why did I sign up again for the list of the school Christmas party?

By project leaders and auxiliary workers

There is no woman who has ever officially applied for, or at least deliberately chose, this Project Leader position. Time and again, attempts are being made to find a biological justification for this phenomenon: is there a special talent that was already developed in the stone age in guarding the cave? If women's brain hemispheres are better networked, can they solve multiple problems simultaneously?

Evil tongues claim that men in particular are looking for such explanations in order to shirk these tasks. But it's not that easy: "We help a lot!" young fathers say today, and most are right. You can see them shopping or to Kita-acclimation, baby swimming or bread smear in the school. They know that they do much more compared to their fathers, so they often do not understand why their partners feel so overwhelmed and burned out.

So why is it that the number of mothers who suffer from burnout, anxiety and insomnia is increasing? The double burden of family and work is a cause. But it is not sufficient as a sole reason, as long as the working partner also tackles. The problem lies deeper, it is in the basic understanding of the man, who sees his task in helping the partner as an "assistant" to the side.

"Would you have said something!"

"Helping implies that the helper does more than he should, while the responsible part falls short of expectations," says journalist Gemma Hartley in her book "It's enough." The mother of three has intensely dealt with the so-called "mental load", that is, the mental burden that mothers carry uninterruptedly.

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Gemma Hartley
It's enough: why family and relationship work is not just a matter for women

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The French artist Emma initiated the discussion about this term with her comic "You should've asked". In it, a woman takes care of everything at the same time and finally collapses exhausted. The partner says in alarm, "You should have asked, I would have helped you then."

A woman does not have to explain the term "mental load" for long: it's what she does all day - but no one sees. And if she does not take it, nobody does it.

Practically this means: It is the woman who writes shopping lists (and sends the man with it), she is the only one who knows the clothes size of the children and looks for the missing spare clothes for the kindergarten (and gives them to him). She is accepted into parent WhatsApp groups without being asked (even though she does not even have the babysitter's number stored), and when she is enrolled at the school's parent celebration for waffle baking, she plans to buy all the ingredients at the same time in which vessel she transports the sticky stuff accident-free and considers whether one of the children suffers from gluten intolerance. The men's quota on parents evenings does not have to be mentioned here, mothers know them.

Even Marie Kondo is hungry

Each of their tasks draws a rat tail of other thoughts and the resulting actions, and in the background murmurs in the background a powerful mantra in continuous loop: "What are we eating tonight, what do we have in the fridge, is that enough for the lunch break tomorrow? "

It is not the accomplishment of the individual things that is the main problem, but the permanent concern, the need to think all-in, and the incessant pondering over whether the solution suits everyone.

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The Tage-Buch: Menstruation - all about an underrated phenomenon

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Since mothers are in this dilemma, they are constantly searching for solutions, testing family planning apps, printing out Pinterest cleaning plans, and secretly wishing Marie Kondo to move into her closet. But none of this can help, because apps need to be fed and cleaning lists worked out, and even Marie Kondo is probably hungry occasionally.

Christmas time: practice area for the restart

The only thing that can help women in this normal madness, is an equal partnership, in which men do not understand themselves as unskilled workers, but as co-creators. But this also means that women are willing to give up control and deviate from their ideas: not immediately googling the symptoms of scurvy when the father smears jam sandwiches for breakfast three days in a row; Endure it, if the homework mountain is done only Sunday evening - if the partner then really cares about it. And do not run after it, when you realize that he has forgotten the towels for swimming at home - next time he'll probably remember it.

Perhaps the simplest way is to outsource entire sections and to let others have their experiences in peace. Even mothers have grown into their planning role first, maybe not everything from one day to the next is going well, and maybe some things will suddenly be different, but that does not necessarily make it worse.

Let's use the pre-Christmas period as a perfect practice area: Finally, the new, equal managing director of the family business may act independently. How about a start with a fair distribution of Advent calendar work? Every year, everyone takes care of twelve little things per child, but on their own, without a delegation or even a shopping list from the female part of the board. Just do it, there are barely two weeks left. And certainly the advent calendar will be more exciting than ever for everyone involved this year.

Reader's Call: Do you know the problem of a woman racing, planning and organizing and waiting for instructions from a man? How do you handle the distribution of tasks in your partnership? Do you have tips and tricks? Then write to us:

With a submission, you agree to an anonymous publication on SPIEGEL ONLINE and all other media of the SPIEGEL Group.

Source: spiegel

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