An award-winning journalist and a mother, Brigid Schulte was feeling overwhelmed by the demands of her work and home lives. As journalists do, she decided to find out if she was alone in this feeling and how she could fix it. She was relieved to discover that most working mothers felt as crazed as she did. Few of them were really enjoying “leisure” time. They weren’t complaining; they chose to have children and to work, and they made the best of it. But what about that term women’s magazines are so fond of: “me time”? Was there anything working mothers could do to make their lives feel less like a treadmill gone haywire? Anything they could change?
Schulte interviewed working mothers and examined how not just individual pressures but biological, societal, economic and cultural ones were splintering their days into slivered messes. She explored everything from the wiring of the female brain to male–female income distribution and the current state of gender equality in the workplace and home. She talked to neuroscientists, sociologists, and above all, other working mothers in order to tease out all the factors contributing to our collective overwhelm. And then she sought out insights and answers and inspiration: investigating companies, travelling across Western Europe to meet families and researchers, and seeking out the sages of the age for their wisdom on how to manage time.
Overwhelmed is the story of what she found out. It’s a map of the stresses--individual, historical, biological and societal--that have ripped working mothers’ leisure to shreds, and a look at how it might be possible to put the pieces back together.