Blog for Women Over Forty and (vs.) Women Under Forty

Why in the world do I have to cook so much?

It’s so often that conversations with women over 40 who live with families is about – why am I constantly having to decide what should I cook today?

Because the decisions about what to cook today require deciding what everyone in the family will be willing – menus have to be interesting. And in our Indian households – elaborate cooking and dishes are a norm. As most of us cook, a whole variety of foods.

Women continue to struggle with deciding what to cook, all the cleaning that needs to be undertaken before and after…its all very time-consuming. A lot of research around household labor and inequities really goes into great detail about how women’s labor is discounted or uncounted. which means that the woman cooking in the kitchen is not not paid for the work she does and it’s a pretty thankless job as many Moms will tell you…because the children refuse to eat what is made and be upset at same old…even if it not dal Chawal.

The complaining friend says

In fact I have a friend who constantly complains about why is she having to cook so much and at the same time any insights are rejected with ” I have to do it…it is my job”. And the martyrhood grows with every meal.. there are solutions- temporarily modifying the cooking practices to be a little less elaborate or planned weekly meals, days that would be about ordering food in, or modifying what is being eaten while maintaining nutrition…conversation remains focused on how exhausting it is to go cook and how irritating, it is to do dishes.

Well, there’s no denying cooking three meals a day, if that is what you’re having to do or even cooking one meal a day, which most working-women end up doing, is a drag. Especially, if you have done it for 10 years. For most of us, breakfast always ends up being some ready thing like egg and toast, lunch is quickly packed, and dinner is what you make right after you return home, or do right after you shut the computer.

What about women under 40?

A big difference between women under 40 and women over 40 is the enthusiasm you will see in the women who are under 40 for cooking. Check out the millions of YouTube videos of them making amazing dishes. These enthusiastic women likely cook occasionally, like techies in Bangalore who have cooks on demand…

Wheras women over 40 years belong to a generation which is used to use to sharing all that they did but not now annoying and how much work it took to make a simple meal of roti Sabji. 2 things add to women’s exhaustion at the end of a long time spent in the kitchen. The first is the dreary, back-breaking routine and the second is not being appreciated enough for doing it. As children grow older, they have opinions on your cooking, as do people at home that sort of get used to your cooking and are less appreciative of the effort that goes into it.

What should you do then?

It is time to replan that menu. In a way that doesn’t compromise the nutrition but also doesn’t compromise you – your health and peace of mind. You do need a little bit more of exercise for your bones and standing in the kitchen for long hours is not exercise. In fact bending over, slouching, our poor postures when tired can be awful. They add to muscle pain & constantly putting our hands in water can increase risk of arthritis. As it is, our bone health is automatically deteriorating with age. Secondly, involving your family in cooking a couple of times, or giving the responsibility away for two days, can build skills and awareness about what you do in the kitchen. Children especially can learn to cook and learn to appreciate the effort it takes. Your children will learn how important it is to appreciate a good meal because sooner or later when they grow up, they will learn that getting hot cooked meals served on the table is precious.

What should you not do when cooking?

Most importantly, if it is really making you unhappy being in the kitchen and cooking…you need to take a break, reassess, replan, find a solution. Unlike my friend’s complaining but complying. It is even more important that you stop feeling bad and continue hurting yourself from both ends. The build up of stress and unhappiness is terribly harmful for your health and family.

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