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Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No…

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time (edition 2014)

by Brigid Schulte (Author)

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2451169,514 (3.79)5
Title:Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time
Authors:Brigid Schulte (Author)
Info:Sarah Crichton Books (2014), Edition: 1, 369 pages
Collections:Your library

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Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte



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Hey, it’s another book about how lack of equality is terrible for men and women both, through the framing of time! Women experience more “contaminated time,” where we’re trying to do more than one thing at once and worrying about the next thing; uncontaminated time is a hallmark of successful, creative work, as well as of relaxation. Women in the US are working more hours at paid jobs while also increasing the amount of time we spend with our children, and men are spending more time with kids too while not doing any more housework, which contributes to women’s misery and stress. Work demands an “ideal worker” who has someone else doing his household management, and penalizes women especially for being mothers. Child care is generally crappy and/or expensive if it’s even available. Interpersonal conflicts between spouses/partners are really the result of the structures, as so often is the case.

Schulte takes a detour into the argument that in the EEA, mothers relied heavily on alloparents, who were people performing parental roles who might be more or less closely related to the mother—we are adapted to take a village to raise children, and mothers therefore need not be tied to their young children 24/7. Rather than being wired to be “motherly,” women, like men, are wired to have sex, and then babies evolved to be really adorable so that we wouldn’t leave them out in the open when they yelled for five hours straight. Men, too, experience spikes in oxytocin and prolactin and decreases in testosterone when they nurture—sometimes even when they’re around a pregnant mate—and the question is, as with the good and evil angels on your shoulder, which one spends the most time doing the feeding/caretaking. If the mother specializes, which she need not do, then she learns skills the father doesn’t, and much else follows. Comparative advantage is not ingrained; it is created by life experiences, and it should not be, given its other consequences.

Denmark is doing it right, though, through a mix of social policy and ideology: more than 80 percent of Danish mothers are employed, most full-time, and they have about as much pure leisure time as fathers do, and more than mothers and fathers in any other country studied. Danish quality of life is much higher on average, though it isn’t perfect (there’s a lot of binge drinking) and Denmark is smaller and more ethnically homogenous, making adopting its lessons here harder.

The gender disparity is nothing new: Thorstein Veblen in 1899 wrote in his The Theory of the Leisure Class, “Manual labour, industry, whatever has to do directly with the everyday work of getting a livelihood, is the exclusive occupation of the inferior class. This inferior class includes slaves and other dependents, and ordinarily also all the women.” In the West, you could become a nun if you wanted time to yourself. Time isn’t just money; it’s power. ( )
  rivkat | Jan 5, 2018 |
Brigid Schulte, a Washington Post journalist and busy wife and mother of two, tries to answer a question that is on everybody's minds in today's breathless, harried, and fast-paced world: how do we find the time to do it all and not lose our minds? Brigid's journey takes her to a time researcher who insists all American women have 30 hours of leisure time a week, to businesses that are redefining the ideal worker by promoting flex-time and allowing employees to bring their children to work, and to Denmark, a country where leisure is valued and busy-ness is looked down on. Brigid's voice is strong and her journey amusing and thought provoking. This book is full of interesting research and personal stories from people who are trying to juggle a busy life and still keep their sanity. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in adding a little more balance, happiness, and play to their lives.

Laura W. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.

( )
  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
As someone who cares deeply about the time and money pressures on young families, I give this book my highest praise. I wish I had written it. Overwhelmed is meticulously researched and engagingly written. One of the strongest impressions that remains with me is the story of Barbara Brannen, a successful Denver executive with two kids. She became so stressed-out from working all the time that her health suffered dramatically, and she lost the use of her left arm. After that wake-up call and some surgery, Brannen began adding back simple pleasures like reading, playing the piano and kayaking. She realized that, as Schulte writes, "she'd fallen into doing all the things that her kids wanted or that her husband liked or that others expected of her - playdates, socializing, going to movies, or just waiting for vacation or holidays to come. She did enjoy the time, 'but I wanted to feel my heart sing'." I'm so grateful to Schulte for bringing these topics to the forefront for discussion. American moms are expected to do so much, and yet it's not healthy to put joy on hold for decades - not for moms nor for the children who are learning from their examples. ( )
  AnneMichaud | Feb 16, 2017 |
Nice setup and history to how we've become overwhelmed and rushed as well as the policies and procedures in the US that have contributed to the situation. My only critique is it doesn't give adequate attention to the way it has affected men as to compared to women. I wouldn't say it is misandrist but when you spend a whole chapter on women and barely give men a few pages there's a lack of attention.
It was intriguing to read that in the 1970s we were leaning toward a universal child care system. Unfortunately, Pat Buchanan did enough damage to impact all future endeavors to helping out the very poor and working families in the area of medical leave and family policy. ( )
  revslick | Aug 6, 2016 |
This book was great. It not only covered the importance of each factor in life (work, love, play), but also how they're interconnected. It does you no good to read a book about how you should play more if you don't understand what about work is keeping you from playing in the first place. I would highly recommend, for men AND women. ( )
  loralu | Jan 3, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374228442, Hardcover)

Overwhelmed is a book about time pressure and modern life. It is a deeply reported and researched, honest and often hilarious journey from feeling that, as one character in the book said, time is like a "rabid lunatic" running naked and screaming as your life flies past you, to understanding the historical and cultural roots of the overwhelm, how worrying about all there is to do and the pressure of feeling like we're never have enough time to do it all, or do it well, is "contaminating" our experience of time, how time pressure and stress is resculpting our brains and shaping our workplaces, our relationships and squeezing the space that the Greeks said was the point of living a Good Life: that elusive moment of peace called leisure.

Author Brigid Schulte, an award-winning journalist for the Washington Post - and harried mother of two - began the journey quite by accident, after a time-use researcher insisted that she, like all American women, had 30 hours of leisure each week. Stunned, she accepted his challenge to keep a time diary and began a journey that would take her from the depths of what she described as the Time Confetti of her days to a conference in Paris with time researchers from around the world, to North Dakota, of all places, where academics are studying the modern love affair with busyness, to Yale, where neuroscientists are finding that feeling overwhelmed is actually shrinking our brains, to exploring new lawsuits uncovering unconscious bias in the workplace, why the US has no real family policy, and where states and cities are filling the federal vacuum.

She spent time with mothers drawn to increasingly super intensive parenting standards, and mothers seeking to pull away from it. And she visited the walnut farm of the world's most eminent motherhood researcher, an evolutionary anthropologist, to ask, are mothers just "naturally" meant to be the primary parent? The answer will surprise you.

Along the way, she was driven by two questions, Why are things the way they are? and, How can they be better? She found real world bright spots of innovative workplaces, couples seeking to shift and share the division of labor at home and work more equitably and traveled to Denmark, the happiest country on earth, where fathers - and mothers - have more pure leisure time than parents in other industrial countries. She devoured research about the science of play, why it's what makes us human, and the feminist leisure research that explains why it's so hard for women to allow themselves to. The answers she found are illuminating, perplexing and ultimately hopeful. The book both outlines the structural and policy changes needed - already underway in small pockets - and mines the latest human performance and motivation science to show the way out of the overwhelm and toward a state that time use researchers call ... Time Serenity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:14 -0400)

"This book asks whether working mothers in America -- or anywhere -- can ever find true leisure time. Or are our brains, our partners, our culture, our bosses, making it impossible for us to experience anything but "contained time," in which we are in frantic life management mode until we are sound asleep?"--… (more)

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