Birthday parties and toilet paper rolls…and why women have nothing left to give

Nov 15, 2016

Keeping Kin |

Change upstairs bathroom toilet paper roll.

Email daughter’s friend’s mother to see what kinds of toys he’s into lately; put birthday party on calendar.

Check work schedule, go to toy store to pick up birthday present on lunch break.

Get laundry from washer to dryer before it moulds.

Take out meat from freezer for tonight’s dinner.

Partner’s mother’s birthday party next month; think of present, purchase, wrap, label “with love from all of us.”

Houseplants need watering.

Sign son up for swimming lessons.

Check in with friend who has just had a baby.  Bring a casserole, take her other kids for a few hours.

Out of milk and eggs; must purchase on the way home to avoid morning mutiny.

Hole in yoga pants; must repair.

Return books to the library.  Pay overdue fine.

Schedule date night; it’s been a while.  Call the babysitter, make dinner reservations, see if that movie is still playing.  Stock fridge with snacks, brief the babysitter, be “on call” throughout date night, come home, clean up freshly-made play-dough and put over-tired children to bed.

Plan weekend activities:  farmer’s market, playground, housecleaning, family hike.

Daughter’s birthday in one month.  Start Pinterest board for birthday party inspiration.


It’s called Keeping Kin.

It feels like spinning plates.

And it’s usually women’s work.

Generally relegated to social and household obligations, keeping kin is an automatic, engrained behaviour that many women engage in.  It often, if not usually, goes completely unrecognized by those who benefit from it.

And it is exhausting.

And we wonder why “I have no time,” “I am so tired,” and “I have no headspace” are phrases that we repeat over and over.

And then we shame ourselves and should ourselves:

“I just need to get organized.”

“If only I could get my act together.”

“I know I should be getting to yoga class, but for some reason I never manage it.”

“When the kids go to bed, I just crash on the couch and watch Netflix.  I hate that I don’t have the energy for anything else.”

How does Keeping Kin show up in your life?


Read more about Keeping Kin and Emotional Labour here.


And here.