Work that’s never done

The daily grind can get you down – so ask for help

Life & Style Weekend - - HOME - Jody Allen is the founder of Stay At Home Mum: stay­ath­ome­ STAY AT HOME MUM with Jody Allen

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.

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