How the Feminist Revolution May Have Cost Us Quality of Life & How to Restore the Balance
The Cost of Freedom
Not all women have the gift of cooking, baking, knitting and sewing - I get it! I am inclined to buy before I make too - a habit I now realise we are all paying dearly for.
I completely understand and appreciate what our fore-mothers did for us in the fight for freedom and equality. I understand that human rights should be granted equally to both sexes, Unfortunately, we haven't paid attention to how this "cost" has been absorbed and offset.
Fifty years ago a man alone could support a family on his wages whilst a mum cared for the family in terms of the cooking, cleaning and minding children. Not everyone's dream job I understand, but it was possible for the "average" family. My grandmother stayed home with four children and occasionally went to work when her children were older so she'd have her own small income to buy what she pleased for herself, or to contribute to family holidays.
Nowadays, only the very wealthy can afford to stay home with their children, whilst the average household has no option BUT to have both partners work, full time, just to make ends meet.
Suddenly neither partner really has time for their family, both are stressed and both have an additional set of worries and financial strains.
Household Income Twice the Number, Half the Value?
In the good 'ole days, people were often rewarded with 13th cheques and annual increases.
Nowadays, we are lucky to receive an inflationary annual increase and in many homes income has stayed the same for as many as ten years!
What this has done is effectively devalue the household income at an alarming rate, while the cost of living escalates and spirals out of control.
The global debt crisis is obviously been contributed to by this lopsided income vs expense ratio, with little relief expected in the immediate future.
An article in fin 24 and City Press in 2013 pointed out at how food prices have skyrocketed over the last 5 years in SA.
The price of bread alone skyrocketed 69% in the 5-year period, while meat went up 40%.
- I very much doubt anybody's salary increase went up by as much as 40% over the last 5 years!
Read the article here:
Food Increase over 5 Years - Image by www.Fin24.com
The Cost of a Dual Income Home
With two working adults, suddenly come additional sets of expenses too:
Childcare - your children suddenly need aftercare every day as well as their school fees. I cannot speak for other countries, but in South Africa where we pay for our children's education as its not provided for by the state, aftercare can cost as much as half the monthly school fees. yes, it becomes slightly cheaper per child the more you have, but its certainly never free.
Transport - two working adults means two sets of wheels, two sets of car insurance (up to 50% of the car's monthly installment in SA) and two fuel accounts.
Clothing - Two working adults means two sets of working wardrobes and yes, it does cost more! casual clothes are far cheaper than suits and any lady will tell you, she cant wear the same work clothes week in and week out - specially if she's in sales or in front of customers a lot.
Food: Inevitably not having access to the fridge at home during the day means that occasionally one is going to have to buy lunch at the office, or with clients and this can very quickly become a hidden, killer expense. A little as R 50 p/day for each partner is costing the family R 2000 a month extra in food and groceries!
Carrying the Load: Not all companies give their staff company credit cards and so its often up to the employee to pay for business meals up front and then claim back - with no guarantee it will be approved. Sometimes expense claims take months to pay if they are even paid at all. there are cases I've heard of staff who have been owed as much as 20% of their monthly salary in expenses!
Housekeeping: Now that both adults are at work full time, who is going to wash the clothes, kids school uniforms etc? Suddenly domestic assistance becomes a necessity and depending on how often they need the help, can cost anything from R 600 p/month for a once a week char to R 5000 p/month for a full time char, who may also live - in and need to be fed, costing an additional grocery expense.
Handy Man and Repairs Costs - This cost will never be entirely replaced of course, but with two partners at work the home gets very little maintenance attention unless one of you is a DIY fundi, which invariably means that things only get repaired when they really get to be a problem and incur a larger cost than if they home was being looked after daily.
Would you Consider Staying at Home?
The Sacrifice to Society
Aside from the physical rand and cents cost of this model, what about the societal debt we are perpetuating?
We are all sucked into the consumerism model of buying more than we need and throwing away more than we should.
Our children are raised by strangers at school and aftercare with exhausted parents desperately trying to participate and work harder to pay for better schools and kinder strangers to raise our children for us.
Health is on a decided down swing with heart attacks in women on the increase, diabetes is on the increase as we purchase more and more "fast-food" to cope with a fast lifestyle and our lives are speeding by at an impossible rate as we try and cram in as much as possible in our limited time with our families on weekends and pressured work day weeks.
Our cities are burgeoning as corporations rise and grow and build more buildings needing more cars and better highways - ultimately leading to less natural growth and more pollution.
Is this REALLY THE PRICE OF FREEDOM?
The Dual Income Trap
Our World is Borrowed From Our Children
Forgive me, but perhaps we have approached this the wrong way?
We wanted equality for women, not double the stress and half the joy for our families, surely? I'm not suggesting that we go back to the stone ages, but I do think we need to sit down and start being realistic about what we DO need!
Our children need parents, not minders. They need to know that their parents will be there to help them with homework, teach them morals and values and standards.
If we are allowing society to raise our children and television to give them morals, then how can we be so shocked at the horrors of the world today?
We need homes, not palaces. So your home has 3 bedrooms and not 5...does that really matter if you are a family of 4? Do you think your children would appreciate living in a bigger bedroom more than going to university or having parents who could take them on holiday every other year rather than drowning in debt?
We need food - fresh, healthy, nutritional food, not a McDonald's on every corner! We don't grow our own food because we simply don't have the time. We barely spend time in our gardens anymore - other than to point a gardener in the right direction.
We need time - time with our families, time with our parents and tine with ourselves. Time to be. Time to read and think and grow and learn without being pushed like a lemming off a cliff into a bleak future. Years pass in a haze of transactions rather than memories or moments.
We need clean water - not the bottled stuff that cost a factory army to pack it in less than healthy plastic! We used to care about our rivers and lakes because we used to spend time there.
Our Legacy of Love or Destruction?
What are we teaching our children? That life is disposable? That money has more value than food or family?
When last did you spend a few days with your children, making your own food, teaching them to bake cookies or splashing about in a pond?
Our children are learning to isolate themselves in front of pc's and television because they have nobody else to socialize with. Nobody to guide them. Many have never seen a wildlife park, a river, a forest - unless its on television and so do not value the integral part nature plays in our lives.
How will our children learn to preserve our world if they do not live IN it, but are merely observers through the eyes of the media?
Save your Budget and Your Children
Have you considered that it may be more cost effective to stay home and help your family through something other than money?
Here are some of the savings you could enjoy as a single income household.
- Save up to R 2000 a month on aftercare fees (average of 2 children)
- Save up to R 1500 a month on clothing - jeans and a t-shirt are appropriate mommy or daddy wear!
- Save up to R 5000 a month on the cost of a domestic helper by doing your own housework
- Save up to R 700 a month on gym fees - yes cleaning your home burns calories too!
- Save up to R 2000 a month by growing your own food
- save up to R 1500 a month by eating lunch at home - no more drive thru's before meetings
- Save up to R 20 000 a year on health care - eating and drinking well and being home based eliminates a LOT of stress! No more fear of heart attacks or diabetes, specially if you are following numbers 3, 4 and 5 above
- Save up to R 1000 a month on extra lessons for your child. You are probably able to help your child a lot more than you realise if you just spent a little time with them every day working through their homework and guiding them. there are endless resources, worksheets and advice online to help parents tutor their children at home and it counts as quality time!
There are likely a few more ways you can save if you are inclined to make your own clothes or furniture for example.
Creative Earning Potential
You don't have to give up a second income entirely either!
You can earn a little extra cash and teach your children about commerce by selling your extra home grown veggies at the local market . These little markets are only a few hours a week as opposed to a full time occupation.
You may find you actually have time to nurture your hobby and that by the time your children are grown enough to not rely on you so much you are able to paint, draw, sculpt or write and sell your wares.
Anything is possible and you will find that once you've slowed down enough to notice - there is infinite potential out there! It doesn't all have to be a rush and a blur.