In her attempts to juggle work and family life, Brigid Schulte has baked cakes until 2 a.m., frantically but surreptitiously sent important emails during school trips and then worked long into the night after her children were in bed. Realising she had become someone who constantly burst in late, trailing shoes and schoolbooks and biscuit crumbs, she began to question, like so many of us, whether it is possible to be anything you want to be, have a family and still have time to breathe. So when Schulte met an eminent sociologist who studies time and he told her she enjoyed thirty hours of leisure each week, she thought her head was going to pop off. What followed was a trip down the rabbit hole of busy-ness, a journey to discover why so many of us find it near-impossible to press the ‘pause’ button on life and what got us here in the first place. Overwhelmed maps the individual, historical, biological and societal stresses that have ripped working mothers’ and fathers’ leisure to shreds, and asks how it might be possible for us to put the pieces back together. Seeking insights, answers and inspiration, Schulte explores everything from the wiring of the brain and why workplaces are becoming increasingly demanding, to worldwide differences in family policy, how cultural norms shape our experiences at work, our unequal division of labour at home and why it’s so hard for everyone – but women especially – to feel they deserve an elusive moment of peace.
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