Open Page

Onerous home work

“I am just a housewife.” You would have heard these words many times from women who do not engage in income-earning activities. Such a status is understood as unemployment status. When they utter these words, they look as though they have an inner feeling that they are not as powerful or productive as working women. Is it true?

Generally, mothers perform seven responsibilities for the welfare of their families without the active cooperation of the men in the family since it is unfortunately an accepted norm in Indian homes. Hence, the women are overburdened with these services without any rest, holiday or retirement.

We may split those responsibilities into bearing and rearing of children, management of food preparation for the family through the day, household work, looking into health issues, taking care of elders and guests and festival preparations. All these duties are performed throughout their productive years with perfection or near perfection depending on efficiency, health status, cooperation of the family members and assistance of service providers. They are the CEOs of all these home management tasks involving meticulous time, resource and manpower management and hence, they are described as homemakers.

It is not easy to manage these responsibilities. Take for example the food management skill, which has to be executed all through their lifetime perfectly. Ensuring quality, quantity and taste and serving food at the right time are to be done in the interest of the family members’ health. It is a lifelong duty of mothers without any holiday or retirement. How many mothers’ service in this matter is recognised or appreciated is a big question because mothers are generally taken for granted. Imagine the chaos in a family if a mother is bedridden for a week. Only then the family will learn not to take mothers for granted or underestimate the magnitude of the food management task. Mothers can be called “super managers” for this task alone.

Additional duties

Same is the task of health and elder management since various sub tasks come under it. There are additional duties too if a mother opts to teach her children without tuitions, drive a car and undertake financial management. What about festival management and guest management? Each responsibility related to home management is to be executed with perfection. Single mothers have to compensate for the absence of a father and have to be in charge of crises management alone. Working mothers have to struggle a lot in balancing professional and home front tasks since one cannot suffer at the expense of the other. They need extraordinary time management skill.

All these responsibilities take a toll on women’s health for various reasons — early rising and late to bed resulting in inadequate sleep, late food or hurried food resulting in digestive disorders and lack of rest resulting in extreme tiredness and low productivity. They are in the habit of trying home remedies first when they fall sick and report late to the doctors resulting in medical complications. Indian mothers generally are reluctant to involve men in household work and voluntarily bear all the responsibilities. A majority of mothers do not even measure the amount of work they do for the welfare of the family. That is the reason the unemployed mothers say that “we are just housewives” because their services are not measured in terms of money.

The position of mothers during the pandemic is indescribable. As all the members of the family stay in the whole day, the work burden has doubled due to the need to meet their constant demand for food and when domestic assistants are stopped due to the fear of spread of the novel coronavirus. That means additional labour. Division of work does not prevail in many families. Hence the mothers are robbed of their one or two hours of leisure, or “me time”.

Hence, all the mothers working or non-working are “super CEOs” of the home front. Hence, let them not say again that they are “just housewives” but they should call themselves “home management executives”.

rameezarasheed@gmail.com

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 9:45:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/onerous-home-work/article33200652.ece

Next Story