The mental load that women with kids bear 24/7 is finally gaining the attention it deserves. Motherhood, raising children and running a household with all the planning, organising and reminding is too familiar to mums around the world.
This problem is named “the default parent” issue, meaning one parent is mainly responsible for all of the children’s needs – emotional, physical and logistical.
And we all know who handles transportation logistics, shopping for clothes, buying gifts, doctor’s appointments and much more.
Women are still lifting more than just their share of the mental load, according to the 2017 Modern Family Index. Even when both parents are working the same hours at the office, the burden of parenting and managing the household seems to be reserved for the gentle sex.
So, how can an overburdened mum juggling a career and family get a break?
Admit That You Can’t Carry the Mental Burden Yourself
There is an incredible amount of invisible work that women carry out every single day. Whether you are at work trying to meet a deadline or trying to have at least one good night’s sleep, this load sticks around.
Recognising that you can’t deal with all of the responsibilities is often a process. Women tend to take on so much of the stuff because they are uncertain of how to include their husbands into equally running the family business.
And sometimes being the one in control is so deeply rooted that it’s difficult to let someone else run the show and do things his way.
Also, caring for the family is historically seen as the female duty and we have incorporated these traditional roles, and these expectations are not easy to overcome.
Share the Load With Your Partner
First of all – don’t underestimate men. They are capable of caregiving. Talk to your husband honestly and help him understand the dynamics of the household.
Sit down and write down all of the planning, scheduling, prepping and everything else that has to do with managing the household and your kids’ schedule.
Share the duties with your partner according to your preferences – when possible. There are certainly some tasks nobody will call dibs on (changing nappies comes to mind instantly), so negotiate on these ones. Don’t forget about the unexpected events and chores, they will come up from time to time – discuss them as they appear.
Ask for (the Right Kind of) Help
Falling into the trap of doing everything on your own is such a motherly thing. But, asking for the right kind of help is crucial!
For your partner to step up and have an equal-sized role in your household, he has to understand behind-the-scenes household management tasks that often go unnoticed.
Asking your partner to step up and take on certain responsibilities and not just check-off particular tasks is a great way to take the burden (at least some of it) off your shoulders.
Luckily, there are more and more fully hands-on dads who want to play an active role in their kids’ lives. Knowing your partner is involved and ready to pick up some slack lessens your own stress levels and mental load.
The Power of Mental Training
Using the words of encouragement and wisdom can help you better deal with the mental load of motherhood. Positive affirmations reinforce positive thinking, reduce anxiety and stress levels. With so much worrying involved in taking care of youngsters, daily affirmations can be that little push you need when things get tough and when you have too much on your plate.
With the majority of women pursuing their careers while running a household and raising kids, these positive statements can help you improve your productivity and give your best at work.
You can create your own affirmations that suit your own personal situation. Repeat them over and over every day to shrink the crushing mental load.
How to Deal With the Guilt?
Sharing the load with your partner is often accompanied by guilt. This is an issue that isn’t talked about enough.
Even when mums have little time on their hands to take a sip of wine and a chat with a dear friend, that nagging little voice is at the back of their head and won’t leave.
Am I being selfish? Will they think I am lazy if my husband prepares dinner? These are just some of the usual doubts mums deal with.
Admitting you are not the only one responsible for the family is empowering. Ditching the guilt and the “wonder mum” myth means giving yourself permission not to know everything. It also means embracing not being perfect.
Find Tasks You Can Outsource
Besides splitting tasks with your partner, you can take the load off both of you by delegating household responsibilities. Paying someone to iron your clothes or clean the house from time to time can be a game-changer.
Resorting to meal and grocery delivery services when you don’t have time to cook or go shopping will give you and your partner more leisure time, or just time to take a nap when you are feeling overwhelmed with the daily grind.
The range and the amount of managing lives and details come with a huge mental and emotional exhaustion, so feeling completely worn out is common among mums.
Planning, scheduling and problem-solving activities, although practically being like the third-shift, are usually unnoticed and unaccounted for gendered work.
Alleviating the pressures of modern motherhood isn’t easy, but with your husband on your side, involved in the day-to-day functioning, you and your family can thrive.
What are your tips on alleviating the motherhood load? Tell us in the comments below.