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Mental Load: Why Women Are So Exhausted and Men Don’t HelpHealth Hub: Mental Health

What are you thinking about right now…. this very moment in time?

Do you often feel overwhelmed? Burnt Out?  Are you taking anti-depressants because you can’t cope?

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.
  • SHIT SHIT SHIT he didn’t.  Must take them up to the school. Why can’t he think for himself in the mornings instead of watching tv!
  • 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.  Bet he won’t brush his teeth the whole time.
  • Why does the dog have a sore foot. Please don’t need to go to the vet….
  • I need to pay those bills… late notice yet again! I need to be more organised.
  • My pants don’t fit.  Need to exercise.. I don’t have time to fit that in unless I run at 3am… Fuck it.

Now think about what your partner might be thinking….  How does that compare?

I know my partner is at work.  I know he has worries too.  But certainly not the merry-go-round of thoughts that Mums do.

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.

What Exactly is Mental Load?

Mental Load is the constant ‘worrying’ about day to day activities to make sure that life runs smoothly.  Organising the kids, making sure they are fed, cleaned, vaccinated, have clean clothing, are healthy, happy, fit, had their hairs cut, nails clipped.  Remembering birthdays, anniversaries, planning dinners, doing the washing, and making sure there isn’t a rotting banana in the bottom of the school bag.

It’s exhausting!

Other things contributing to mental load include:

  • And it’s not that men aren’t helping us out, but they tend to only ‘do as they are asked.’
  • Giving our partners and children specific jobs, then having to keep reminding them to do those tasks.
  • Asking our kids to do the same thing, day in, day out, they still need reminding.

This is why as women we lose our shit at our family.  Why we seem ‘cranky’ all the time.  Why we don’t want to have sex with you.  

Why we may not be paying attention to what you are saying….

Men often fail to notice or appreciate the sheer scale of managing the household.  And it isn’t that women aren’t asking for help from our partners, we are.  But our partners are either oblivious or just don’t think!

But women too, need to speak our minds and exactly spell out what it is we want, when we are asking for help!

Image via Working Mother.com

 

How to Ease Mental Load in Your Home

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.  It’s just easier ‘if we do it ourselves’.  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 thing you need to get done and leave it somewhere the whole family can see.
  • 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 have to clean it themselves on Monday.

Talking to our partners about mental load is also important.

Explaining to them why we feel as we do, and asking for help, might not fix the problem, but it will certainly help.

 



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