While there’s a ton of new-parent advice freely offered out there from the moment you conceive…one thing I never heard anyone talking about until recently was “the mental load.”
You see, when men become fathers, their life doesn’t really change all that much. Yes, becoming a parent is an enormous change and providing for and caring for tiny beings is a huge responsibility, but most dads go back to work a week or two after their child is born and return to their previous routine. Not completely the same, but you catch my drift.
Moms, however, are most often the primary caregiver. Whether we are working moms, stay at home moms, or stay at home working moms, we bear the “mother-load.” The mental-load as it’s come to be known. All the responsibility, and anxiety that comes along with running a household, while trying to be an exceptional wife, mother, employee, daughter, friend, business owner, and whatever other hats you might wear. And PS- make it look like you’ve got your shit together on social media while you’re at it.
There’s a difference between the way men and women are wired that allows women to multi-task and causes us to carry the weight of our own world on our shoulders. The internal monologue of the mental-load might sound something like this:
What am I going to make for dinner?
When is that project going to get done for work?
I can throw a load of laundry in now.
Can’t forget to pick up a present for this weekend’s birthday party.
Need to put diapers on the grocery list.
We have to baby-proof soon.
I keep forgetting to send that email.
Have to call for a pediatrician appointment.
The dog needs to go to the vet.
Oh no- I forgot to pump!!
The mental load is freaking exhausting. It’s as though all the to-do lists run together in your brain and you can’t shut them off. The best tactics I’ve found for simplifying the mental load are as follows:
- Delegate. Everything you can and are willing to let go of, ask for help. If anyone is willing to help you, and you trust them, say YES! “Yes, mom, I’d love it if you took the dog to the vet.” Or “Honey, would you mind baby proofing this weekend?”
- Hacks. Anything you can order or automate, do it. I use Peapod for groceries because I do not have the time to go grocery shopping. And quite frankly, I don’t like it. There’s way better things I could be doing. Similarly, I order a lot off of Amazon. If I need a gift, its going to get here faster with Amazon than if I waited until I can actually go shopping. My favorite food hack is using the slow-cooker. There’s truly nothing better after a long day of work than coming home to a delicious smelling house and home cooked meal that required very little effort. Points for super-mom!
- Reminders. I put everything possible in my phone, and in a written planner too. I still miss things – last week I forgot to take my dog to the groomer. The week before that I forgot about my grocery delivery. But the more reminders I have, the better.
- Cut yourself some slack. Is everyone clothed and fed? Does everyone seem relatively okay? Great, you got this. Good enough is just fine.