Work that’s never done
The daily grind can get you down – so ask for help
WHAT are you thinking about right now, this moment in time? Do you often feel overwhelmed? Burnt out? If you are a mother, this might be typical of what is whizzing around in your brain space right now...
Wonder if Little Johnny ate his lunch today? I gave him wholemeal bread, I know he doesn’t like it but he needs that extra nutrition. He eats way too much sugar. Oh, did he take his library books to school? I forgot to check. S*** s*** s*** he didn’t. Must take them up to the school.
Oh, he’s been asking me to sign him up to footy, must do that tonight after the kids have gone to bed. I really need to get the school uniforms washed today or they’ll have nothing to wear tomorrow. Oh, the school camp is next week – he has to pack his own bag. Oh God – he doesn’t know how.
It is all these thoughts going around and around and around that is called “mental load”. Mental load is “always having to remember everything”.
It is invisible, exhausting work that never ends.
It is the constant worrying about daily activities. Organising the kids, making sure they are fed, cleaned, vaccinated, have clean clothing, are healthy, happy, fit, had their hair cut and their nails clipped. It is the need to remember birthdays and anniversaries, plan dinners, do the washing, and make sure there is not a rotting banana in the bottom of the school bag.
This is why as women we lose our s*** at our family. Why we seem “cranky’’ all the time. Why we don’t want to have sex. Why we may not be paying attention to what people are saying.
Men often fail to notice or appreciate the sheer scale of managing the household.
But women, too, need to speak our minds and exactly spell out what it is we want when we are asking for help.
As much as women want help, we are also reluctant to let go of the mental load in case our partners do the job incorrectly.
We need to let go of that feeling and allow our partners to take on more of the load.
Write a list of all the things you need to get done and leave it somewhere the family can see it.
Allocate jobs to everyone – and don’t do those jobs for them. Let other members of the family “fall’’ when they don’t follow through. Kids don’t put their lunch boxes up on Friday – then they have to clean it themselves on Monday.
Talking to our partners about mental load is also important. Explain to them why we feel as we do, and ask for help.
It might not fix the problem, but it will certainly help.
◗ Running a household is exhausting work and women need to spread the burden.