Headlines do grab the eye and this one was no exception:
The Trouble with Motherhood by Christine Carter, PhD
Since my book Raising Happiness was published, I’ve met so many unhappy mothers I’ve come to believe there might just be an epidemic of unhappiness in mothers. Studies have long showed that parents tend to be unhappier than their childless counterparts. (Seven percent unhappier, on average.) Parents tend to feel happier grocery shopping and sleeping than they do when they are with their kids.
One significant cause of increased unhappiness among mothers is that we are so damn busy.
Sounds like one of the reasons so many of those I knew in the late 70’s and early 80’s turned to homeschooling in the first place – slow down, get out of the insane rat race and reconnect the family.
This trouble with the busy-ness of motherhood is that most of the work is instrumental. And the trouble with instrumental work is best illuminated by a famous study by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow. Csikszentmihalyi unintentionally induced what looked like text-book cases of generalized anxiety disorder in his subjects simply by instructing his subjects as follows: from the time you wake up until 9:00 PM, “we would like you to act in a normal way, doing all the things you have to do, but not doing anything that is ‘play’ or ‘non-instrumental.'”
This sounds like the language surrounding “burnout” that grew up in the wake of a crazy push encouraging homeschoolers to reinvent school in their homes.
Yet, every generation appears to need to rediscover the ‘secrets’ for themselves.
When we strip motherhood of play and flow—as we so often do, just to get everything done—our mood deteriorates. It isn’t just worry about our children and endless housework that make us anxious and unhappy; it’s that we aren’t actually having fun anymore.
Hey, have some fun!