If you have kids you know how hard the job of mothering is. Even though married moms have a spouse to help them with household chores, parenting, and managing the home, they still may feel as overwhelmed as moms who don’t have a partner. This situation, where women feel like they are stuck doing it all, is becoming more common and has even led to the start of internet support groups for FLASMs (feels like a single mom).
When married moms compare themselves to single moms as if they are the same though, some truly single moms find this annoying and insulting. Koa Beck from Mommyish.com writes on this aspect of the “married single mom syndrome”. Single moms don’t have a choice about doing everything all by themselves like married moms do. “If they are feeling overwhelmed by childrearing, work, etc. then that’s what they should say — that they are an ‘overwhelmed mother’ and ask for help,” one single mom told the writer.
Most Women Feel Overwhelmed
A recent survey by TheBump.com and ForbesWoman.com found that most women feel overwhelmed when it comes to parenting responsibilities. According to their co-parenting survey of 1,200 moms, 70 percent of working moms and 68 percent of stay-at-home moms felt resentful towards their partner because they felt the parental and household responsibilities were divided unfairly.
Overwhelmed moms are not necessarily alone though. The dynamics of households have changed but old stereotypes are still around. Dads are still expected to be the “man of the house” and have their own pressures and stresses. Dads may be aware of the fact that they aren’t pulling their weight, but have a hard time finding balance themselves. A survey by Boston College Center for Work & Family found that most dads want to share the parenting responsibilities with their spouses equally, but struggle to do so. According to the survey of 1000 dads, 68 percent of the dads surveyed felt that parenting should be divided equally, but only 30 percent said that they were actually doing this.
Another 2010 survey by Procter & Gamble found that 91 percent of 1,000 dads surveyed felt that their relationships were better when they shared the household chores equally. Other studies have found this to be true as well. A 2009 study found that men who help with housework get more sex. It makes sense. When women get help with chores or parenting responsibilities, they may feel more affectionate towards their partners.
When You Feel Like a “Married Single Mom”
In most cases, women who feel like married single moms may just need to speak up and communicate better with their partners. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind when it comes to needing help and support. Let him know what kinds of things he can do to help you feel less overwhelmed. When you ask for his help though, don’t expect him to do everything your way. Author Gregory Keer gives his advice on tapping into dad’s potential saying, moms often “tell dads how to do everything, down to the smallest detail. If the fathers do something differently from the moms, they are reprimanded and often taken off some parenting duties.” You might have a certain way of doing laundry, putting the kids to bed, or grocery shopping, but if you want him to help more you need to let him help, and stay out of his way.
If both parents are overwhelmed with work or household duties it may make sense to take some of the stress off of both partners and get some paid help around the house. Kathy Fitzgerald Sherman, author of A Housekeeper Is Cheaper Than a Divorce, told BlueSuitMom, "After trying, and failing, to get their husbands to take on an equal share of this workload, women are paying the price through increased stress levels, loss of leisure time, and damage to their marriages because of rising levels of anger and resentment towards their spouses." In her book she provides suggestions on how to fit a housekeeper into your budget and tips for hiring a cleaning service.
However, sometimes when a mother feels like she is doing it all on her own and is harboring deep issues of anger and resentment because of this, the relationship may be in more serious trouble. In cases like this, counseling may be beneficial. Marriage counseling is not magical but may help partners work through issues like this that are keeping them unhappy.