You know the drill. It’s like clockwork.
Priding yourself in your ability to multi-task, it’s a fact that nothing works unless you do.
Just as you hit “send” for that urgent email due before 4 pm, you realize that tomorrow, your baby girl is graduating from middle school. And before you know it, you’re in your car and on the way to the mall to buy her something extra special. It’s just a quick detour en-route home.
On the way to the mall, you make an impromptu decision to hit the grocery store to pick up a few dinner items. This well intended quick trip turns into a full load of shopping and of course, you run into another mom whose doing the same. She’s actually wondering what you’re getting the teachers this year? “Is it the usual Starbucks gift card or should we all pitch in for a nicer gift”?
Well of course you got the teacher something already as you secretly reach for a gift card from the selection at the check out counter. Rushing outta there, you notice how poor your nails look so you pop into the local salon for a polish change and by the time, you’re at the mall, feeling somewhat exhausted, you search for a gift in haste and finally find one that will do.
While driving home, you’re left wondering how life’s become so damn hectic and tiring. All the while, your mind is building one list after another in tandem.
Is your brain full of “to-do’s” and worse, someone else’s “to-do’s”? Girlfriend– you’re guilty of it and you know it. It comes with the territory because we’ve been socialized to do it all. And it has a fancy name to it which I just found out on my recent trip to England (see what happens when you connect with others, you learn things ☺).
Mental Load is a thing.
Mental Load is the burden of remembering and delivering a million and one to-dos especially around family and household related tasks. Sometimes it’s called the “Third Shift” and trust me, does it ever feel like that. The third shift being the shift following a workday and involves children and household responsibilities. So not only are you bringing in “the bread”, you’re also the CEO of your home.
Women tend to carry an unequal Mental Load in most families. It’s a fact.
If you’re an obsessive list maker (guilty!), plan every activity and possible scenarios to the finest deets (guilty!) AND step in to fix things when they aren’t going quite as planned (learning to let go of that one!), you are suffering from Mental Load. From where I stand, it looks like Type A personalities are most at risk.
Now that we know what it is, why is Mental Load not really a sign of a high functioning, high achieving individual (sorry) but rather of someone whose at the cusp of setting herself up for a lifetime of burdens that shouldn’t really be hers in the first place. Unless you truly enjoy all of this and it doesn’t cost you your health, then totally be my guest but for most of us, mental load comes at a cost.
One big cost is that your efforts actually are unnoticed in most instances. Yeah. You heard me. If you don’t believe me, you can check out this survey that says so.
Well that sucks.
Not only are you killing yourself to run your home, you’re not appreciated for it or acknowledged by your family, your partner or your employer.
Let’s talk about the other big cost of mental load shall we?
It’s no secret that stress levels are on the rise and we’re adding to that by being unwilling to let go of control. Mental load is very much about creating systems that no longer serve us especially as more and more women are working full time. Stress over time will lead to chronic illness and a slew of health issues. Can you afford that?
Good news is that there is a fix to mental load but it does start with shifting your mindset and asking and accepting help.
• Make a list of all the responsibilities you’ve assumed and take inventory. What can you delegate to others?
• Ask for help! Be specific.
• Delegate, delegate, delegate. Extend gratitude.
• Don’t step in. Leave it to others to fix issues.
• At the end, marvel at the teamwork, pour yourself a glass of wine and celebrate. You’ve earned it!
I know first hand how hard it is to give up control and to trust others to do the job as well as you would. I had to do that when I separated from my husband and he had the kids on his own. It took me quite a while to give up control and now? Not a chance that I’d let go of this new found freedom. In fact, my ex is away on holidays right now and I’m probably “mental loading” this very minute but at least it’s temporary and the count down to his return is on.
So the next time you decide to add that extra to-do onto your list, take a second and ask yourself, can I delegate this one to others?
Maybe. Just Maybe. They’ll do it better. YUP. I just said that.