According to Dr Rebecca Huntley, Australian women are not hanging out with their girlfriends enough and it’s possibly to our detriment. It’s the kind of thing Rebecca knows quite a bit about as the Director of Australia’s longest running social trends study, the Ipsos Mackay Report.
“Women need to understand that making time for themselves isn’t self indulgent. We need to maintain our emotional wellbeing. It will make us happier and better able to perform all the different tasks required of us,” says Rebecca.
She is referring to findings in a recent Ipsos study for Baileys that Australian women, particularly those with children under 12, are burning out from trying to live up to their own expectations and are experiencing stress on a constant basis.
The Baileys study also found that between career, household and family, Australian women are only spending an average of 8% of the week doing the things they enjoy. It’s something Rebecca can identify with. “The research found that women are incredibly busy, juggling 5-6 different roles daily. I can definitely relate to the stresses involved in this juggling act of wife, mother, worker, daughter, sister, friend etc”.
Juggle indeed. Professionally, along with being a passionate social researcher and public speaker, she writes regularly for high-end magazines and broadsheets, and is the author of two books, The World According to Y: Inside the New Adult Generation and Eating Between the Lines: food and equality in Australia.
It’s easy to wonder then how ‘the juggle’ really looks for her. She says its all in the planning. “I manage motherhood and work through careful organisation, list making and a supportive husband. I also get lots of sleep and try to prioritise my health at all times. I am getting better at saying no”.
Learning to say no without feeling guilty is one of Rebecca’s top tips for conquering this lack of ‘me time’. Accepting you can’t do everything and then delegating is another. “Housework isn’t the be all and end all,” says Rebecca, “when we’re old ladies we’ll treasure the time spent with our friends much more than the time spent on chores!”
What do you love about motherhood? “Being a mother is lots of fun and teaches me to be in the moment because young kids, (my daughter is three), have very little concept of the future. They don’t have mental to-do lists, only a list of gifts for Santa”.
Favourite family tune? From Little Things Big Things Grow
Charity? Kiva: http://www.kiva.org/ “Kiva is like the song, From little things big things grow. It is a non-profit organisation with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.”
“If you feel that you don’t have enough close friends in your life, it might be that you aren’t making friendships a priority.
Many of us let our lives become so busy with work and other commitments that our friendships are often pushed to the side. However, friends are one of the most important support networks that women have. Keeping up with our friends can help us lead a more balanced and fulfilled life.”