Finding Time to Nurture Everyone But Herself

If her work lasted merely from sun to sun, a woman would have more time to take care of herself. Since her work is never done, she’s lucky if she can squeeze in a few moments away from the demands of children, husbands, friends, parents and others who rely on her. A survey by Ipsos-Reid finds one-third of American women saying they spend 30 minutes or less per day on “self-nurturing” activities. Among women who have a young child, just8 percent manage to carve out 60 minutes in the day to care for themselves. For those with two small children, the figure falls to a negligible 4 percent. Of course, these are the people most in need of self-nurturing, so the lack of time for it is acutely felt. Married women in general have scant time for themselves, with 69 percent saying they devote less than10 minutes a day to self-care. As you’d expect, single women are less burdened in this way. Even among singles, though, 31 percent claimed to have less than 10 minutes a day for self-care. In part, this reflects the fact that single women aren’t necessarily childless. Among women who have no kids under age 6, 86 percent manage more than an hour a day for themselves. How do women feel when they do get a respite? Guilty, of course. Among married women, 81 percent said taking an hour for self-nurture would make them feel “selfish, guilty or anxious and unsettled.” It’s not that other women look at them accusingly if they take a breather: 89 percent of respondents said they’d describe a woman who takes time for self-care as having “good self-esteem”; just 2 percent would call her “selfish.” You may be pondering one anomaly raised by the survey: How did the overstretched women find time to answer all these questions? We can only hope they felt refreshed by pouring out their laments to the sympathetic ear of a pollster.