End the Superwoman Syndrome

superwomanMikelann Valterra, director of the Women's Earning Institute, is a prosperity teacher and money coach.

It caught up to me one day, back when I was married. I found myself screaming at my husband to make his own dinner while throwing a box of breakfast cereal on the table in front of our son. They looked at me, bewildered. My inner good girl, who thought she was super woman, had snapped.

The dreaded second shift. While women have made great strides in the work world, we have not made enough headway in the domestic sphere. Many women work all day, and when they get home, there's more work waiting. A study published in Women Don’t Ask, by Linda Babcock, reported that full-time working women do over 33 hours of domestic chores a week, while their male counterparts do about 16.

Babcock's findings have been documented by many other researchers. While most agree that men today do more domestic work than in years past, the split is still far from 50-50. A heavy domestic load does not allow us to earn at our full potential.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66% of women with children 17 or younger work full- or part-time. We women have focused for so long on other people that it is often difficult to focus on ourselves and our own careers. So we attempt to be Superwomen: we work diligently in our businesses and continue to care for our family’s needs.

The reality is, the Superwoman Syndrome is far too costly—in time, stress, our health, and personal and financial well-being. A greater balance is required, and we have to insist on it.

If we have partners, it’s time to talk to them. I used to cook more—before that fateful "dinner incident." This was convenient for my hard-working husband. But when my business expanded and my stress levels began skyrocketing, we talked. Was it convenient for him to cook more? No. But he did it. His career was not more important than mine, even if he was making more money than me.

This is an issue for women with and without children. Many of us need to put extra energy into our careers. However, we juggle errands and domestic To Do lists during the day, and come home to laundry, groceries that need buying and homes that need cleaning. What can we do?

  1. Let go of perfectionism. The sheets don’t get changed as often. My base-boards are dusty. (Sorry, Mom.) Your partner may not have the cleaning standards or routines as you do. Let it go.
  2. Compromise. I used to pick up my son every day after school. But when I expanded my business, this was no longer possible. After dealing with motherly guilt, I put him in after-school care three days a week. He’s very happy there with his friends and gets his homework done as well. And guess what? My stress level dropped!
  3. Delegate or hire help. The benefits of a house-cleaner far outweight the costs. I even know women who use services that provide a week's worth of frozen meals. Now that I balance single parenthood, many meals are frozen. So what!
  4. Talk about your balancing act, with your mate, friends, co-workers. The Superwoman Syndrome has to stop. We must equalize the roles of the sexes in the home. If you are working full-time, regardless of how much money you make, you should not be doing more domestic work than your partner.

Remember, if you are trying to earn at your potential, it’s time to put a stop to visions of Superwoman. Superwoman is really just the supreme Good Girl. She is stressed, unhealthy, and doesn’t make great money—trust me.

Mikelann Valterra, director of the Women's Earning Institute, is a prosperity teacher and money coach.