Can working parents in America - or anywhere - ever find true leisure time?
According to the Leisure Studies Department at the University of Iowa, true leisure is “that place in which we realize our humanity.” If that’s true, argues Brigid Schulte, then we're doing dangerously little realizing of our humanity. In Overwhelmed, Schulte, a staff writer for The Washington Post, asks: Are our brains, our partners, our culture, and our bosses making it impossible for us to experience anything but “contaminated time”?
Schulte first asked this question in a 2010 feature for The Washington Post Magazine: “How did researchers compile this statistic that said we were rolling in leisure - over four hours a day? Did any of us feel that we actually had downtime? Was there anything useful in their research - anything we could do?”
Overwhelmed is a map of the stresses that have ripped our leisure to shreds, and a look at how to put the pieces back together. Schulte speaks to neuroscientists, sociologists, and hundreds of working parents to tease out the factors contributing to our collective sense of being overwhelmed, seeking insights, answers, and inspiration. She investigates progressive offices trying to invent a new kind of workplace; she travels across Europe to get a sense of how other countries accommodate working parents; she finds younger couples who claim to have figured out an ideal division of chores, childcare, and meaningful paid work. Overwhelmed is the story of what she found out.
©2014 Brigid Schulte (P)2014 Audible, Inc., all rights reserved. Published by Brilliance Audio. Produced by arrangement with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
I wish this wasn't so heavily focused in the beginning on complaining about how hard it is to be a working mother. Yes, I know that it's hard to juggle work and family, but as a single working person, it made me feel like, "oh you have it EASY compared to ME." It was a lot of complaining from a upper middle class person that frankly started to annoy me. I didn't get the answers and advice I was hoping to find -- just someone saying "Sh*t's hard. Am I right, gals?" Tell me something I don't know and can learn from... not just more of what I already know.
I listened to the Richard Branson book, "The Virgin Way" and the Gary Vaynerchuck book "Crush It" because it was just so much more useful, entertaining and inspiring.
I think it was more the content than the narration, but ugh. the whining. the whining...
Maybe mothers who are martyrs and victims, and want everyone to know about it might think "Finally, someone who understands me." For the rest of us, you might think "No wonder I avoid people (women) like this."
I thought it might have some helpful ways to deal with feeling overwhelmed. Only parts of the last two hours had any type of synthesis - once this author finally realized that she was the problem (without this I would have given it a ZERO star rating). This author seems to believe that the whole world needs to change to suit her. Arrgggh - it made me want to poke my eyeballs out.
Good reading voice and presentation.
Anger mostly, what a waste of my time. I had to start skipping parts 20-30 minutes at a time. I was just waiting for this author to get over herself and her drama-trauma, and get to something that resembled useful.
I don't think this author is probably capable of seeing why she is the problem, and that's (it least in large measure) her problem.
So far I have only been able to listen to 2 hours of this book, and I can't believe it hasn't gotten to the point yet. I thought I was buying a book that would help overwhelmed people work on their problems. All she does is complain then entire time about how busy people are and how inequitably it falls to females vs males. It stresses me out more to listen to her than when I started the book. I keep trying to listen longer because at some point she must have something good to say, right? The thought of listening to her complain more in an unconstructive fashion on my commute each morning leaves me looking for anything else to listen to instead.
A pedantic approach to preach to the choir. Simply listening made me feel uptight. Pure leisure for me might be warming myself by the fire that I might build using the pages of this book-oh, I forgot…the virtual nature means I’ll burn it metaphorically.
Can't think of one
Very well researched. She attacks the issue from all angles, as well as her personal journey.
I learned a lot, and I thought I understood the problem from other sociology books I have read.
She has a cheerful voice.
I know you don't have the time to read this book, but you should.
The research is very applicable to my life, and the lives of my busy peers. It is not a "Self-Help" book per se. It appeals to my logical mind, and is not preachy. It is an excellent follow-up to "All Joy, and No Fun", and excellent book about the paradox of motherhood. This book is not specifically for parents, but a great complement.
I was worried that this book would be full of complaining about being too busy with no solutions. It actually had some great information and helped me to shift my perspective. I will also use this information when thinking about my employees and their own family obligations.
I felt this book gave good insight into alternatives for our overwhelming lifestyles, but like most self help, making this changes is much harder. I did like the interviews with the Danish families.
A digital media consultant and business strategist. I'm a lifelong lover of books in all forms.
It spoke to my own struggles over the last 50 years of being a woman in America: as a person who understood gender inequality in kindergarten, as a wife, mother, employee, entrepreneur and political activist. Unless you've been living under a rock, this book - Brigid Schulte's reporting - touches on your own life and those around you.
How intensely real her experiences are. I could feel her frustration, anger and sense of being overwhelmed because I have lived that experience. We accept as immutable the culture we live in and assume it's "the best" because Americans see our lifestyle and our country as "exceptional." In many of quality of life factors, we lag well behind other countries. We don't look around seeking ways to improve how we live. At this point in my life, it's about improving it for my 3 twenty-something children. I want to leave a different legacy behind - one where my son and daughters have more choices and options to live the lives they want to live.
She brings a believable voice to that of the author. By the end of the book, you feel you have bonded with Brigid - you have shared her journey and what it means to try and having a meaningful life off the hamster wheel people enjoy complaining about.
Life doesn't have to be this way.
This is one of the most important books you can read this year. Things will not change or improve for our children and grandchildren if those of us at the top of the Boomer foodchain don't recognize we have a responsibility to change the dynamics of the workplace, our schools, our social structures and our communities. We do not have to be OVERWHELMED to prove we are productive and have value to the world.
Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.
An insightful book on the frantic and non-thinking, robotic behavior of so many in this culture. The travels and insights into other countries was enlightening and exciting.
This is a nonfiction book. There is no favorite character. The author is the character, if one must use such a term for a nonfiction book.
Wrong question for a nonfiction book. As you push, I'd say the time in Copenhagen and Norway.
Reinforced my belief that americans do not understand leisure and over value "work."
Very well planned book as a look upon this culture of move, fast, work, work. The author' suse of prose was really good, too. I was engaged from beginning to end.
This book was a much needed wake up call. It can provide you with the actual data that you do in fact feel like you 'just can't even'
My mommy self needed all this permission and guidance.
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