The moment I log into my social media feed, I read updates shared by women in groups all outlining situations on similar lines.
These are some of the updates that I have come across:
“I am working from home, and the lockdown has forced me to manage everything alone. I get no help from my husband.”
“I am a housewife. My family does not support me at all. I am working from morning to night and feel tired all the time. What should I do?”
A majority of these questions also speak about domestic violence. The lockdown has revealed the unequal distribution of work in the Indian domestic household wherein self-reliance (lack of domestic help) is increasing the burden on one member of the family.
The coronavirus lockdown has created situations wherein the married Indian woman has to deal either with job loss (either her husband’s or her job). If she has a job, she has to manage both the responsibilities – office as well as the household duties. If she has kids, the duties have increased with no house help being available for those who have chosen to be as much as self-reliant as possible. If she is single or a single mom, she is anyway dealing with a lot of work that takes up many hours in a day.
The problem lies in an unequal system with many of us being dependent on domestic help for our daily chores. While it’s good to be able to employ others and ensure a give-and-take system that benefits all by employing those who need it, a pandemic such as this one requires a person to completely depend on self for most of the things.
Is lockdown the problem? Or, are we doing something wrong? Why are so many people struggling with being self-reliant? While atmanirbharta (self-reliance) is already being spelled out for the Indian economy, possibly we could have begun this concept from home early on.
We know the frenetic pace of work may not necessarily give us space for self-reliance, but in the times of the pandemic, we need to focus on this a bit more. If you think your day is loaded with responsibilities, try using these tips mentioned below.
3 Ways to keep your Sanity Intact while Embracing Self-Reliance
Women, as well as men, both need to shape their thinking to embrace the new normal by first normalizing many things in the home itself. If you seek change, it needs to begin from your home. While we are still unprepared with Atmanirbharta for the economy, it does not mean we struggle at home, too.
Communicate with your family
There is a need to communicate what’s making you uncomfortable about the daily responsibilities. This is applicable for both partners. You need to discuss instead of expecting a person to understand. I don’t agree we can all read minds unless you have some magic wand. If you cannot have a mature conversation, you need to think over the basics of your relationship. Communication is the key and a better understanding will lead to an improved life during the coronavirus pandemic.
Divide the responsibilities
Naturally, an Indian woman takes up a majority of the domestic work which is also a matter of choice. If the lockdown has bogged one of you down, it’s time to communicate a list of things to be done to share the tasks evenly. You can even support your partner on alternate days to give a day off as a relief to each other. A couple who shares their duties and care for each other develop deeper bonds. If you’re single, you need to weigh your priorities and work around tasks accordingly.
Raise Awareness All-Around
Doing things differently will always invite criticism. This is applicable particularly in a society that is used to doing things the same way for years while outlining the roles each gender has to play. If you have children, raise them equally by sharing the household duties. Let both children get to know how to mend things around the house while learning to manage life skills such as cooking and running the house. A young child can be given a simple task such as setting the table or clearing their own desk.
You can also connect with local groups, educate people around you – particularly those who do not have access to a different style of thinking. If you’re single, you can offer to support women and men who do not know things such as finance management. Make them understand the importance of taking care of themselves to be able to manage their family as well. Make them aware of helpline numbers in case of abuse or opposition to them laying down the rules while embracing the concept of self-reliance. Also, learn to be self-reliant on an emotional level.
Women can be great leaders and men can also play the role of a caregiver – who defined roles anyway? While accepting a change of roles may be difficult for some, the lockdown has further emphasized the importance of gender equality and why it is needed in the current situation.
Self-reliance is great but a little support goes a long way.
How I am managing the Atmanirbhar Deal
- Scheduling important tasks as per time slots – separate time for home and office tasks
- Checking the to-do list for what’s important and what’s not, being realistic in my approach
- Maintaining a schedule to check task completion, ensuring I have time to be flexible in case of delays
- I let go of what is not required to maintain a balance. I do not agree to the image of being a do-it-all
Importance of Self-Reliance
You learn to depend and trust yourself on a deeper level to take decisions in life. Your decisions are not based on what others say but are a reflection of what you truly desire.
This is not about doing everything yourself but knowing to think independently, embrace self, and move towards your goals with determination.
How to be Self-Reliant Emotionally
- Be responsible towards self
- Develop a deeper connection with self
- Take decisions independently, be your own decision-maker
- Learn new skills, this works to add more trust in self
There are days where I do let the house be slightly messy. I avoid self-critical thoughts or guilt.
What are you doing differently to manage your responsibilities in the lockdown? What support do you offer at home? I’d like to know in the comments below.