Most women around the world, of all ages, nationalities, religions, from any walk of life,  suffer from a common and prevalent disease, “Home Control Disease”. Some may have a mild form of it, others more serious, some suffer from regular relapses, but in general it is something that has infiltrated our homes for generations and [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Do you suffer from “Home Control Disease”?


Most women around the world, of all ages, nationalities, religions, from any walk of life,  suffer from a common and prevalent disease, “Home Control Disease”. Some may have a mild form of it, others more serious, some suffer from regular relapses, but in general it is something that has infiltrated our homes for generations and shows very little signs of being annihilated from our daily lives.

“Home Control Disease”, the gist of it described by Tiffany Dufu – who coined the phrase – is that whilst one scoffs at the idea that a woman’s place is in the home, women still tend to focus obsessively on how it is run, how it is organised, and how women still believe, deep down, that only her way of doing things would work. The overwhelming need to control any and all activities related to the home front and feeling inherently, that her way is the best way.

For the longest time, women have been fighting to balance and maintain at least three ‘careers’ in life – that of being a parent, a partner and a career woman and still somehow additionally make time to have some semblance of a social life, run a home, take care of the laundry, the weekly meal plan, the shopping, and be the perfect all handling, hands on, all singing, all dancing hostess. We’re constantly juggling so many balls in the air, there’s never enough time, there’s always more to do, and by the end of the day when everything else and everyone else’s work is done, yours is just beginning…multi tasking and getting on and doing things your way…with the constant fear and worry of dropping one of those balls. Is there however, a better way?

Joanna Moorhead, writing for The Guardian in an article titled “Why mothers should expect less of themselves and more of their partner” writes about Tiffany Dufu…her life’s experiences and failures on how she tried to be everything to everyone and finally found success within that disappointment when she realised it was just not possible to do it all…her way. That if she dropped the ball, she shouldn’t try to reach out and pick it up and risk dropping all the others, but to actually let her husband or someone else pick it up and then – and this is the crucial bit – allowing him to hold on to it and deal with it, his way.

Tiffany explains that “We’d been married for eight years, and I’d done everything my mother had done at home, and worked as well. But that wasn’t going to be possible any more – and I felt resentful, because the two of us had had a baby but it was only impacting on one career, and that was mine. We were on the same highway, but he (Tiffany’s husband) had somehow managed to bypass the car crash that was now engulfing me.” As Joanna elaborates, when Tiffany sat back to think about it, she realised that what she was doing was fulfilling the roles she was expected to fulfil. Because of the way she’d been raised – in a traditional home in Seattle, with a mother who stayed at home and a father who had a job – she had deeply ingrained ideas about what constituted being a “good” mother – not to mention a good wife, and a good worker. Now the time had come to rethink those definitions.“It was a bitter pill to swallow” says Tiffany, “because I was a confident, empowered woman and I was having to admit that much of my behaviour was conditioned by other people. I wasn’t in the driving seat of my own life: in public I was a staunch feminist, but in private I was a Stepford wife on autopilot.”

What Tiffany decided to do, and what she recommends everyone should do, was to take a long, hard look at herself and to work out what her priorities were.

“Lots of women say their priorities are their children, their relationship and their career – but you need to be more precise than that. I worked out that the things that really mattered to me were nurturing a healthy partnership with my husband, raising children who would be responsible global citizens, and advancing the lives of women and girls [which is what she does professionally].”

From that point, she says, her life became easier: she was able to look at her time and her tasks, and work out what mattered to her and what could go by the wayside. Her lightbulb moment was the realisation that anything she couldn’t do could be dropped – and either her husband or someone else in their extended family or community could pick up the balls that she had let go of, or the task could be neglected. Once picked up by another, the key was not to get involved in trying to tell them how to run with it, but rather to let them simply get on with it. She also started using her technical skills from work within her home. Everything – all duties, known, unknown, recognised and unrecognised, went into a spreadsheet and along with it came organisation and peace of mind and most importantly time. As Tiffany says, since she started dropping balls, she has been promoted at work and written a book. She’s also learned to stop worrying about the less important things and focus on those that are really significant.

Most of us have been guilty of it at some point in time. This notion that our way is the best way. Whether it is with important things or simple things like how to administer medicine and first aid, or how to prepare fish, drive, arrange the clothes in the cupboard, wrap a present, or even how to  make the best cup of tea. Ultimately however, in order to achieve this ‘perfection’ and worse yet, to do so every time, costs us dearly. Primarily in terms of time, that would probably be put to better use and used for more important things if we were able to just…let it go and let it be done however it could and would be without ensuring it was done our way. To attempt to control too many things is not just hard work, it is also extremely tiring. This tiredness can and usually does take a toll on all the other things we want to do but cannot as we are bone weary or just simply have no time. Letting go is no easy feat, but it certainly gets easier with practice and ultimately all we really want is to ensure we all have a shot at being the best in what we do. To transcend that glass ceiling. It’s possible to handle having several jobs, but to actually have several full time careers is hard work. Every little helps and in this case, letting go may be the best way to get back to being able to being your best self.

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