Shirley Conran advises women on combining paid work and running a home without having to be superwoman.
Writer Shirley Conran explains to Gay Byrne and a panel of working women how if you organise yourself, the bare minimum of time and energy can be expended on housework.
The Late Late Show panel consisting of actor and broadcaster Máire de Barra, magazine editor Mary Dowey and journalist Nell McCafferty have all read the book and utilised some of its tips in their daily lives.
'Down With Superwoman!' is revised and rewritten version of 'Superwoman', Shirley Conran's earlier book on the same subject, and was five years in the making. The result is a guide for those who hate housework. She judges no one on the standard of cleanliness of their home, as,
Your house should be as clean as you can get away with, and no cleaner.
Journalist Nell McCafferty claims that many of the books tips such as defrosting a fridge with a hairdryer and wearing sunglasses when slicing onions are unrealistic, but her main bone of contention with the book is that it does not apply to mothers at home with children,
It is not the housework that takes up the time...children take up the time, not the housework.
Writer, magazine editor and working mother Mary Dowey enjoyed reading the book and her favourite tips were about filing and shopping lists. She also enjoyed the section on,
How to have a small nervous breakdown.
This part was not written in jest, as Shirley Conran believes that many women are placing their mental and physical health at risk as a result of juggling the demands placed on them by children, husbands, work and home.
All this discussion around the need to spend less time on housework could be avoided if, as Nell McCafferty claims,
You become a feminist, you get on the barricades and you housebreak these men, and then they start doing the housework.
The book also includes recipes on how to make your own jam and yoghurt, but the most important part in it is the making of lists, which is ultimately how one keeps a grip on one’s sanity.
Lists are a medically approved method of sorting out your head.
This episode of ‘The Late Late Show’ was broadcast on 9 March 1990. The presenter is Gay Byrne.