The mental load: The thankless tasks

I read an article on the Guardian online about the ‘mental load’, did you read it? If not here is the link, it’s well worth a read. It just made sense of everything I have been feeling in the last year.

Your partner comes home from work, you are knackered, but the house is a tip, what exactly did you do with your day? You are sure you spent the day caring for your toddler and tidying, but there is nothing to show. Your partner is probably (secretly as he doesn’t want to start an argument) thinking, you have it easy, they have to trek to work everyday and you get to…chill? That might cause them to resent you a bit and you might resent them as they don’t fully recognise what you do. That is when the ‘mental load’ comes in, as the article explains, the mental load is invisible – and there lies the problem. It is all the stuff you don’t see

  • The constant tidying and picking up after people
  • Mentally making note of whats running out and what you need to buy
  • Mentally making note of what clothes & shoes your toddler has and when they will grow out of them
  • Budgets – monthly, holiday savings, Christmas savings etc etc
  • Holiday planning
  • Managing the family calendar
  • Bills bills bills
  • Renewals of insurances
  • Paying toddler classes
  • Cleaning every inch of the house
  • Selling toddler items, ready for the next lot
  • Present buying & planning
  • Cooking & meal prep
  • Childs progression
  • Keep vege plants alive
  • Medical appointments for the family
  • Repeat prescriptions
  • Planning weekends away and budgets
  • Keeping toddler alive day to day
  • Childcare planning

Those are just a few of the things that most of us have to think about, for us full time Mum’s/Dad’s who have businesses or blogs, we also have that thrown in. That is A LOT of stuff that just happens and no one knows it has. This is a load that mostly falls to women, or stay at home Dads. My partner is great, I do feel supported, I feel he does a share, but it is only when we made a list of what we each do, it is apparent, even in our equal relationship, I have a way longer list, and I think we are both to blame. I think I should have made the list before now, and asked for help before now.

I have been feeling slightly overwhelmed lately and think the article just made me have a PING moment, I have over stretched myself, and something has to give. In fairness it has been a busy year, buying a house, renovating it, learning to drive, travelling abroad for work etc.
I am lucky that my partner gets it totally and wants to do more, he wasn’t angry at the list or annoyed, he knew I wasn’t having a go, as I do feel he does a lot, but I am just doing too much and he didn’t realise, because it is invisible and he doesn’t see it, and I just carry on doing it all.

I have read some blogs lately, saying women can’t have it all, they can’t be a stay at home parent and run a business or work part time, because something will suffer. Well before I discovered the ‘mental load’ article, I would have agreed, but now I say bollocks. Yes we can! Providing we are not overloading ourselves with mental tasks that could be shared. No we can’t do everything, and we shouldn’t have to. We don’t have to. I think a lot of couples I know would be the same as me and my partner, they just didn’t realise it was happening and of course should be sharing it all out and would going forward.

I would highly recommend making a list of what you think about week to week and what physical tasks you do, a column for both you and your partner, and just see how it all falls. My partner and I talked it through, we moved some to his column, or said we will share some of them and work together more, as a team, because that is what we should all be, parenting teams. We went into it equally together and that is how it should go forward. Please don’t let it all get on top of you, and if you can’t share them out, ask yourself do you really need to be doing everything on the list? Can you drop somethings?

We our going to look at ours again next month and see how we have progressed.

Fingers crossed!

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