Part 4: Christian working women: Getting the balance right

Part 4: Getting the balance right 

For any woman who works (whether that be in a home based business or one outside the home), it is so important to recognise that you are doing two jobs — one away from home and one when you get home. This can be very difficult and stressful, especially if you have children, which is why some women move to part-time hours or stop working completely. However, not all women have this option and we need to be sympathetic  and understanding to these women and help in any way we can.  

A study* undertaken in Australia (Australian National University) found that working more than 39 hours a week can impact on a person’s mental and physical health. The researchers found that anything longer than 39 hours at work meant workers had less time to eat well and look after themselves properly (i.e. go for walks, get some fresh air, time to shop for healthy options). They were, in fact, putting their health at risk. For women, this is a bigger problem as many go home after work to prepare meals and do other household chores adding to their “working hours”.

"Given the extra demands placed on women, it's impossible for women to work long hours often expected by employers unless they compromise their health. That's because normally women spend more time on childcare and doing unpaid housework."

So what can women do to avoid making themselves ill, stressed or simply running out of energy?

Firstly it is important to acknowledge that long or demanding hours can make you sick and will hamper your ability to do an adequate job at home. 

Secondly, it is important to be aware that your home does need your time and energy and that scant attention will cause even more problems to you, your husband and your children. Many women try and ignore this, much to their detriment and to others in their care. Washing will start to pile up, you will eat more unhealthy meals, getting children off to school becomes quite a task, housework in neglected etc. 

Thirdly, it is time to sit down with your husband and tell him how you feel, be honest as he might not be aware of the full extent of how you have been feeling of late and together nut out a solution. This may mean reducing your hours, changing jobs, stop working until the children are older or perhaps designing a schedule for home where you, your husband and children are allocated chores and it doesn’t all fall to you. 

If your current employment is too demanding and allows you little time at home or makes you arrive home exhausted, you need to think seriously about a change. One option is finding employment that is compatible to your home life, that does not require you working long hours, perhaps closer to home or expect you to take work home. This option may mean a decrease in pay –— earning less but having a life is certainly far better for all in the long run. Take a serious look at your current employment and work out what is important in your life. Money isn't everything and if it means living more simply but keeping you healthy and sane, I think it is an option to seriously consider. 

However, this is not always possible, especially if you work in a location where jobs are limited or your skills are not suitable for jobs on offer, or when money is a desperately needed. One needs to pray (not only in this situation, but any situation) for a solution because sometimes it doesn't jump out the way we want it too—however when left in God's hands, He can work wonders.

For those women in difficult situations, it is worth coming up with a plan, such as designing a simple menu for the week, perhaps using the slow cooker and don't forget to cook in bulk (leftovers can save the day!).  Why not create a chores list where you do one thing per day so nothing builds up by the end of the week. Buy in bulk so you don't have to visit the supermarket as much. Perhaps do some tasks in your lunch hour such as banking and post office trips or organise appointments. And don't stress, it doesn't improve the situation in any way.

Importantly, if you are one that runs out of energy by the end of the day, minimise after work activities, make time for recovery in the evenings, rather than booking in all sorts of activities that take you away from home in the evening.

The other problem with long hours and coming home tired is that you have very minimal time with God. When do you find the time for devotional and bible reading? It gets squeezed into a little corner of your day when you are most tired.

We all should assess our lives from time to time, even mums at home with children. There is always better ways of doing things if you step back and have a constructive look at your life (in conjunction with your husband).

My message is to take care of yourself—you are needed by your family and they don't want to see you sick or stressed. Don't work yourself to an early grave—it really isn't worth it. 

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. (Psalm 98:1)



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