Why do we have to do a) b) and c) before we can have a break? Why do women have an internal reward system?!

PoutingFINAL 12


I just need to load the dishwasher, then I’ll be with you. Oh and I best tidy up the little lady’s toys too, before I get to it.

Still there? I’m coming honest, just one minute!

I just need to quickly run upstairs, hoover up, stick a load of washing in blah, blah, blah.

Why do we do it?

Why DO we do it?

Is it me?

Am I the only bonkers woman around to work to my own internal reward system?

Please say I’m not. Help me feel a little normal I beg of you!

Do you work like this, indeed operate like this, on a daily basis?

Do you say things to yourself like: “I’m gasping for a cuppa and a biscuit, but until the entire ground floor of this house is spotless, I won’t sit down.

“Until I’ve ran my Mum back and answered the five texts I received this morning, I’m not having a break.”

“Yes I know I’m knackered but just 10 or so minutes and then I’ll stop.”

Do you?

Or, do you recognise any of these:

“If I work hard all week, I’ll treat myself to a glass of wine on Friday night.”

“If I earn more money this month from my freelancing, I might just treat myself to that pair of shoes I’ve lusted after for months.”

“If I loose a couple more pounds this week, then I might go and buy myself a bikini. And if I lose a bit more, hey, I may even wear it!”

The reward system.

A reward system that plays out in our minds, that says we can only do something good or have something good for ourselves, if we earn it.

If we do all the hard work first. And more besides.

Reward systems, personal brownie points or whatever you want to call it, they’re not all bad. We all kinda know this right? In fact, in some ways, they can be really good for us.

If we bought a new pair of heels every week even though our finances are limited, that would be stupid wouldn’t it? Reckless even?

And there’s nothing like splashing out on yourself after you’ve put yourself through the ringer, worked your funky socks off or achieved something marvellous.

Rewards can and should be wonderful things.

But it’s the daily miniscule reward system I have a problem with. The one that operates in my head from the time I get up in the morning to the time I go to bed.

It’s the one that tells me, I’m not allowed to take a break, until I’ve done x, y, z and quite possibly the rest of the alphabet first.

Am I alone in this? Maybe.

Although after chatting to a few pals of mine, it seems I’m not. They too seem to run this internal reward system around their marvellous minds.

They too are hard on themselves.

They too, need to do, do and DO some more, before they will ‘allow’ themselves something as ordinary, as sitting down and putting their feet up with a cup of tea. For five minutes.

Five minutes. That is all.

And yet to ‘earn’ that five minutes, we tell ourselves before we can have it, we have to put in hours of graft first.

So you see I don’t think I am alone unfortunately.

And when I look at my husband and his behaviour, I know for sure that he certainly doesn’t think like me.

He doesn’t have to earn a break.  If he wants one, he damn well takes one!

He doesn’t have to earn a cup of tea and slice of cake. If he wants one, he just pops the kettle on, settles down and tucks in!

He doesn’t work himself to the point of exhaustion before he goes to bed. If he’s tired he goes for a nap!

As easy as that.  No apologies. No regret. No problem.

He is brilliant at putting his needs first. Sound familiar?

So why can’t women be the same as men in this regard?

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Why oh why are we so appalling at putting our own needs first?

First – before the house work, before the errands, before the fetching and too-ing and throwing after everyone else.

Do we really think we don’t deserve it?

Do we really think we have to do EVERYTHING before we cut ourselves just a little slack?

And if so, where on earth, does this come from?

Because I gotta tell you, personally, I’m sick of it.

Personally, I’m tired of having to carry all this weight on my shoulders.

Personally, I’m beginning to wise up and smell the coffee.

If I, if YOU, continue to operate like this, we will drive ourselves into exhaustion.

We will become bitter towards our loved ones. We’ll become fraught and we’ll become a victim.

And, if we’re not careful, if we don’t start becoming more mindful of our actions, we will look back one day on our crammed, hectic lives and we will be sad. And probably, a little angry.

Because we’ll think of all the times we should have played outside in the garden with our kids, visually feasting on their joy.

We’ll think of all the times we missed out on periods of peace and contemplation.

We’ll think about all the ways we should have treated ourselves better as hot, angry tears spring in our eyes.

I don’t want this to happen.

And I sure as hell, don’t want my daughter to think that this is what women DO. That this is how we ARE.

So today, I’m going to embrace my inner rebel (she’s always there!) and I’m going to ignore the housework.

And when I want a cup of tea, I’m going to make one and actually drink it before it goes cold. That’s going to be such a treat!

No one demands that we do everything. (I hope) Besides ourselves.

No one expects us to do everything. (I hope) Besides ourselves.

No one who loves us wants us to exhaust ourselves or miss the rainbows, because we are too busy battling with our mammoth, no-end-in-sight, to do list. But yet – this is what we are doing.

In fact do you know what? That reward system?

It can go in the ‘no longer’ needed bin.

*Mentally rips up my good girl certificates and points system*

There. That’s better.

Now, just do me a favour will you? Please hide that god damn Sellotape.

Phew. Thank you. Now then, where are those biscuits…


Women of the world! – What do you think? Are you like me? Did you used to be like me? Have you kicked the reward bucket over? Would love to hear all your thoughts on this one x

***Psst – I’m up for a fancy blogging award and would love your vote!

Please vote for ‘Pouting In Heels’ in the BiBs2015 under the WRITER category, if you like my ramblings, rants and words. Thank you! x

With love,






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28 Discussions on
“Why do we have to do a) b) and c) before we can have a break? Why do women have an internal reward system?!”
  • Kate you have your finger SO firmly on the pulse! LOVE this because it is just to true – why do we do this to ourselves? And yet we do, I do, day after day, punishing and rewarding ourselves based on a perfectionist view of our world that only we subscribe to. A big HELL YEAH to throwing it all out the window… but I’m sorry, I do still love a shiny kitchen floor! #lostcause

    • Why thank you Michelle! :) Perhaps we’re all perfectionists? Or perhaps people too many expectations on us or us on ourselves? (I’m going for the latter!) x

  • This is me too! I spend almost all weekend making the house perfect (partly because I want to, and I find that outer calm contributes to inner order) but I feel guilty if I sit in the garden and read a book.

    • Oh Kerry…I agree. I’m a bit of a neat freak in that I like everything in it’s place. It does make me feel better and that’s fine in one way, but we both need to remember to take that time, smell the coffee, sit in the garden and read a god damn book! x

  • Another fab post! I used to be exactly the same until having Rufus. Now its only 50% of the time – if he’s around then housework can wait, we’ll run round and round the rooms like planes, have tickle fights, or I’ll be answering the constant questions that a two year old likes to throw at me! Once he’s in bed then I’ll have that quick sweep around the house picking up toys, putting washing on, cooking tea etc, then its time to relax! Sometimes I look at the house and think “I need to have a spring clean” then Rufus comes crashing through (honestly “bull in a china shop” was a phrase especially for him!) and I think it will wait, but he won’t. We need to be easier on ourselves! xx

    • We surely do! As you rightly say, other things are more important and we cannot do it all! x

  • I am a total slave to this, my older daughter (15yrs) can’t understand it – she looks bewildered and says “but why don’t you just stop doing ‘X’ now and do ‘Y’ instead” it seems very simple to her! I though my problem was having a catholic upbringing – all that guilt dumped on us – but it must be a wider thing. Females? Mothers? Certain personality types? It would be so interesting to do a massive study and see who the internal reward system affects and why.

    • Brilliant comment Clare, I don’t know where it comes from. I guess as woman we’re so used to constant pressure put on us (by society, the media etc) that it’s just part and parcel of that. However, let’s hope, let’s really hope that your daughter and mine won’t feel the same strain. Your 15 year old daughter sounds like a very wise young woman to me. x

  • I just want to say congratulations for writing THE best blog post I have read this year. This is exactly what I needed before the weekend…what ALL moms need to remember every second of every day.


  • Get a cleaner! They do the big jobs. I keep the place tidy and do the washing. Between family life and work there isn’t much time left for cleaning but I do love a clean house! Best thing I ever did! It’s cheaper than you think and I would rather go out to the park for free than spend money on days out then have a to do list as long as your arm!

    I don’t feel guilty about anything I enjoy. It’s all about balance. As my 93 year old Nana says’Everything in moderation’. It’s got her to that age so I’ll take her advice

    • Great comment Hannah! Love your Nana’s advice, so true and I really am thrilled to hear that you don’t feel the dreaded guilt! That a woman! x

      P.S I used to have a cleaner…you’ve got me thinking!

    • Amen to that Hannah. Why spend time doing things you hate?

      Katie, just do what you want when you want – stop feeling guilty! The only person who is that worried about things being spotless etc is you, just relax. Easier said than done I know, but life’s too short to beat yourself up like this.

      To be honest, I’m shocked to hear that so many women are doing this, it would never even occur to me. I don’t reward myself, or the children, it doesn’t make sense and is just not in my psyche. Sorry!

      • I hear ya! Thank you. I am making improvements. The first step to any growth is realisation right? So glad to hear it has never occurred to you. x

  • It’s never ending isn’t it? I can run around the minute I wake up getting kids ready for school, tidying up and returning emails and doing work. I wander around the house starving thinking…I’ll just finish this and then I’ll have breakfast…often it’s near lunch time and I realise I need to get a grip and get some food! I’m going to get a cleaner! Great post Kate xx

    • It really is Lisa. The treadmill just goes on and on and on and on. Find your cleaner and quick! Thanks for your super comment x

  • I have to say I am the polar opposite to this! You can probably just call me lazy! Because I work full time outside of the house, spend my week commuting and dropping and picking Zach off wherever he needs to be – that when I am at home, if I’m not spending the precious time with Zach, I’m sitting on my bum with a cup of tea and a biccy! But then I suppose that kind of is my reward for all the to-ing and fro-ing that I have to do! When we are a little bit better off I am going to see if we can get a cleaner! Cause the house gets ignored on a regular basis!! #sundaystars

    • Yes! Good for you Lisa! I need to take a leaf out of your book for sure and yes the cleaner thing sounds like a grand plan! x

    • Haha! It’s ridiculous isn’t it?! Don’t hold that pee too much longer though, not good for us ladies ;-) Thank you darling x

  • This sounds so familiar, I know I always put myself last. I don’t know how many times I boil the kettle a day but don’t make a brew as I’m so busy going from one job to another! #SundayStars

    • Oh no Toni! Well you know what you need to do ;-) Kettle on, make brew, sit down and enjoy! x

  • You always write exactly what I am feeling. As women I think we do expect so much of ourselves. And we compare ourselves to other women who always seem to have the tidest houses, or be hugely efficient and organised or are never ever late for anything. So we feel that we can’t rest until we have done this because we want to be more like our perfect friends. But you are right, it is far more important to put ourselves first. To be proud of ourselves whether or not we have perfectly ironed clothes and a dust-free house. As always, beautiful lady, you are an inspiration. Thanks for linking up with #SundaysStars. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

    • Thank you Mrs H! I like to ponder about us women and our roles in life, how we see ourselves etc. There’s so much pressure put on us, that i’m not at all surprised really, that so many of us are so hard on ourselves. But we do – as you brilliantly – say, have to start learning to put ourselves first. We really must. Super comment. Thank you! x

  • I know I do this too and the times I do take a break to just play with Luca or have a cup of tea in racked with guilt and thinking about all the things I could be or should be doing. It’s ridiculous! Its the reason I don’t blog as much as I’d like to, or soak in the bath or just do any of the things I want to. Then when it isn’t the to do list it’s the husband who wants my time and attention. I am gonna try harder to not let it all take over MY life because that to do list does never end so there is no point getting so hung up over it. But right now I’ve had a lie in so I must now go and blitz the house……….x

    • It’s tough isn’t it Franki. We are our own worst enemies with this, I really believe that. Good luck in trying to take things easier. I guess we really need to start thinking about our priorities and stop being so hard on ourselves! x

  • this is me! I alway put the kettle on and then think oo actually I best stick a wash on quick first then I get carried away doing something else and completely forget my tea, think its something to do with being in the kitchen always reminds me of the long list of chores i need to do might move the kettle to another room haha x

    • It’s so easy done isn’t it?! Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one to do this though. Yesterday I took a piece of my own advice and did NOTHING. And guess what it was glorious. The guilt was still there but I loved it! x

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