Is Unpaid Work Worthless?

I’ll start off by saying it’s been a bit of a rough morning, so this is probably going to be a bit of a pity party. But a small row has got me wondering if the work that I put into my blog, and another project that I’m currently working on without pay, is actually worthless?

I’ve spoken before about the struggles I have with parenting, mostly it’s good, but sometimes it’s really bloody hard. Giving up work because it couldn’t fit with school hours without me spending between three and four hours a day travelling to a job that in going part time had also been downgraded into mind numbing routine and no take home pay at all after the commuting and lunch essentially, compounded the hard stuff.

I’ll lay it out. I hate cleaning, I hate washing clothes, I hate putting away clothes. These things are thankless chores. I know they need doing, but when that’s literally all I’m doing, it makes me insane. I feel like I can’t breathe. I spend hours when I’m not cleaning relentlessly scrolling through my phone, or binge watching Netflix, just for something – anything – to keep my mind occupied. I sit in the gym, on my own, watching down the clock.

So, in an effort to simply make the hours I spent alone bearable – and I don’t say that lightly – I started the blog. I created something – an unpaid job if you like – for ME. Just for me. I put those hours into it, I spent them curating my writing, editing photo’s, learning various applications and systems. And I made friends. Colleagues even. It made me happy. It still makes me happy – and it’s also brought me some pennies of my own now and again, as has the occasional freelance writing work that I’ve gotten off the back of it.

But it’s not a job, is it? It’s not a properly paid, earning per hour job. Does that make it worthless? Does that mean I can’t have concessions, or ask for help with other things, when I need to get things done? I’ve recently started working on a project with someone that should in fact lead to a proper paid job. But it needs unpaid work to be done initially. So again, is this work worthless? When I ask for help, even one thing a week to facilitate the work I do, does the fact that I’m not getting paid for what I’m doing mean I don’t deserve it?

I don’t know. I really don’t. But feeling unsupported does make me feel like this is all a worthless waste of my time. I mean, I don’t have to do any of this. We don’t need the money, should I give myself a slap and be happy that all I have to do is some cleaning and washing? When so many people are killing themselves working and looking after their families because they can’t afford not to? There’s nothing wrong with being a housewife is there. What’s wrong with me that I can’t be happy without doing something for myself, for being so selfish and wanting something outside of child care and housework? Even if it is unpaid and worthless. I just don’t know anymore. I guess that by being made to feel that my time is worthless, makes me feel worthless too.

5 thoughts on “Is Unpaid Work Worthless?

  1. Doing something for yourself is not selfish and isn’t worthless. If you’re raising a family as a couple then it’s a partnership. If ‘traditional’ worki gives you two days off a week then your work in the house hives you that too. Some people choose to spend that time at the football or in the pub or at the shops. You choose to spend it on your blog. Worth isn’t attached to earnings it’s attached to purpose, whatever that is. Don’t let anyone take that from you. You are beholden to no one and anyone that thinks differently can go fuck themselves.

  2. It’s because you’re intelligent and you can’t just sit back and do nothing. I am the same. Yes, I have flashes of ‘wtf am I doing with my time’ and ‘this is all a huge waste of my life’ but equally there is so much to be taken from it. You do a great job, you cheer people up, you teach people how to make poo biscuits. You are doing a good job.

  3. What Suzanne says above! This is your space, this is something you have created from scratch. That is not worthless. Yes, it might not bring in oodles of money but that isn’t how we should judge our worth otherwise we would all be screwed. Unless you are that Trumpy git and then you would be “whoop I am worth more than anyone because I am a rich git”. But that’s my point in a weird, rambling way, who wants to be a Trump. If we judged ourselves on money then we would have a very weird perspective a la Mr T! Anyway, what I am trying to say is that no one should ever make you feel worthless. What you do is not worthless. I love your blog and when I am having a yucky or rubbish day I will often turn to your blog because I know that it will put a smile on my face. That’s not worthless in my book.
    ps sorry for essay xx

  4. I echo the points made above that you’re obviously a very intelligent and driven woman who has every right to the extra “something” that lots of people seek – and your blog is the most fantastic avenue for that because you actually contribute positively to other people, too. That’s not worthless at all. In fact, if it wasn’t for you doing your thing then I wouldn’t have made those amazing wagon wheel things, I wouldn’t be obsessed with Joseph Joseph, and I wouldn’t have had that brilliant guest post on your Monologue series when I was just starting out and didn’t know my arse from my blogging elbow. You’re awesome, trust me. X

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