Two-thirds of working parents reported feeling too emotionally or physically drained when they got home from work to contribute to their family.
2019 National Survey of Working Families - Parents at Work, Advancing Parental Leave Equality Network
How is it that our lives have become so full that, when we get home at the end of the day, there is no space for those we live with?
What if we consider the body is a car, how are we running it? Is our foot flat on the throttle all the time, revving like crazy in ‘sport mode’ or could we consider there being a more settled way to drive that offers more space, perhaps we could call it ‘eco mode’? We have all felt that different way of driving.
One burns out your engine and your fuel, feels full and ‘busy, busy, busy’ but never seems to get to the end of the list, there is certainly no space, moreover, it feels like you are running around like a chicken without a head…
One is more honouring of your engine. ‘Eco mode’ uses the fuel in your day to complete what is there to be done. It is a much simpler and richer way of living life.
We are not in ‘eco mode’ though so the challenge now is – how to get home on your reserve tank – in sport mode - when there is no petrol station on the horizon - eeeek
No wonder, at the end of the working day, it really feels like there is no space for anything or anyone else and all that is left to take home is the dregs of a nervous system that has been running on overdrive all day.
The tell-tale signs of running our vehicle, our body, in ‘sport mode' have actually always been there if we had the space to look. Perhaps the amount of sugar and caffeine that has been demanded by the body to keep up and keep your head from taking a nap on your keyboard was one of those tell-tale signs but the ‘busy busy busy’ of ‘sport mode’ means you don’t stop to see the head nod to the keyboard because your hand is too quick to the caffeine or sugar pick up.
When we consider how that is so normal across our workplaces and society in general, is it any wonder that two-thirds of working parents feel there is no emotional or physical space for parenting when they get home at the end of the day?
What we have taken as our normal here? Can we step away from the belief that 'sports mode' is the only mode? Can we shift our gear and change our focus? Perhaps raise the value of the pit-stop to recharge, check our levels, have a service and a deep clean. From that level of care we have capacity to ramp it up when it is needed and settle down when it is not. We live a more balanced life with so much more play-full-ness and time for each other.