Women are connected to - and the driving force behind - countless relationships in their lives. Whether they're a mum, wife, sister, friend, aunty, or all, there's lots of responsibility on their shoulders. And, while it has proven to be an excellent demonstration of superhuman ability, the burden can seriously impact their well being and overall quality of life. In this article, we explain the concept of the ‘mental load’, why it matters, and how you can lessen its impact on yourself and those around you.
What Is the ‘mental load', and what does it look like?
Picture this: you've woken up at the luxurious hour of 5AM to get your kids ready for school. You make them breakfast, police their clothing options, force them to brush their teeth, fix their hair, and ensure their bags are fully packed. Two hours later, you're actually able to get ready yourself and hit the road for drop-off. Then comes getting all of the essentials done - from grocery shopping and car repairs to laundry, cleaning, work meetings, and more. 3 PM rolls around and it's time to pick the kids up from school, bring them home, fix them a snack, and get their homework started. During it all, you're also planning, coordinating, and cooking dinner, making sure everyone's ready for after school activities and evening sports games, and trying to squeeze in time to catch up on emails. The payment accrued for these 15+ hours of labour? $0.00, and sometimes a thank you, if you’re lucky.
That's only a boiled-down illustration of most women's realities and the mental load of stress they carry. Yes, raising a family is a labour of love - but the responsibilities of keeping one intact almost always fall disproportionately on female members of the house. In fact, studies show that women, even those that are their home's main source of income, are roughly three times more likely to carry a mental load than their male counterparts. Within this population, over two thirds have a mental load, and more than half experience symptoms of burnout as a result.
It's not hard to see how things can get even worse from there. Those who rely on or maintain relationships with women experiencing burnout can feel secondary effects - whether it's a mum at her wits end or partner struggling with anxiety, everyone is impacted when the playing field of responsibilities isn't distributed fairly.
Sharing the mental load
While it can be a debilitating challenge for many women, the good news is that the mental load has a very straightforward solution: shared responsibility! In the grander scheme of things, household responsibilities aren't an undoable amount of work - they're just proportional to the amount of people living in that home.
This makes it an unmanageable and unrealistic duty for women to handle this alone, and therefore something that can be solved with teamwork. Below are some simple measures you can take to reverse the effects of the mental load in your household.
As mothers, we want to be all things to all people. But we need to acknowledge that we’re also human. Be honest with yourself that there are only so many hours in the day to get things done. No one has infinite energy, and it’s important to prioritise what is worth spending your energy on.
Audit your mental load
Like with any problem, properly addressing a mental load requires understanding the scope and nature of its impact. Eggy can help with this - simply browse the vault and break your responsibilities down into the following categories:
Get micro with your list
Let’s face it, women are thinking about their endless list of responsibilities from the second they wake until the minute they fall into bed.
From thinking, planning and scheduling, to attending, cancelling and rescheduling commitments, there’s a massive amount of mental space to account for. Be honest about the time that goes into your day – and night – to get the best gauge possible of your mental load.
Let others know exactly how much is on your mind
With a deeper, tangible understanding of the stress you face on a day-to-day basis, you’ll be well equipped to explain it to your loved ones. Be candid about the fact that you’re struggling and ask for some extra help - whether that means taking the initiative to plan gatherings, scheduling appointments, or getting chores done. While some of these jobs might seem like obvious shared responsibilities, you can’t assume that others know that.
Organise and share your workload
After you’ve gotten your family, friends, and/or support network on board with the idea of a fairer workload, it’ll be time to organise and delegate individual responsibilities! This can be easily done through the Eggy app, which allows you to sync tasks and calendars with contacts in your phone.
Take up the offer from your neighbour to bring the kids home from school, find an incentive to get the kids to put their own laundry away, ask your partner to take over the management of household bills and some jobs around the house – and do it all with the touch of a button.
You’ll be able to view and manage these responsibilities from one centralised location, and even set up reminders to ensure that nothing is ever overlooked.
Outsource where you can
Aside from family and friends, it’s also worth considering how outside help can alleviate your mental load. Booking a cleaner or gardener may feel extravagant, but is actually a form of self-care, which can ultimately do great things for your overall well being. It can also support other people in your community who rely on this income as a means of supporting their own families.
Take time for some self-care
Despite what society may have told you, self-care is in no way, shape or form selfish. It’s an important part of parenting - and downright essential to maintaining the mindset you need to do it right.
Taking time out of your day to enjoy life will help you to appreciate what you have and stop resentment setting in. This could be something as small as a 10-minute walk outside or coffee meet-up with a friend. It’s essential for all parents to have something in their life that provides a little breathing room. Not only does making time for self-care in this way benefit your own well being, but also those around you, who will enjoy a slightly more patient parent, partner, or sibling.
Don’t be hard on yourself if not everything gets done
There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, so if the beds don’t get made, the car doesn’t get washed or your kitchen is a mess, don’t beat yourself up over it! No one’s perfect, and the best thing you can do for your family’s overall happiness is to recognise and embrace this fact of life.
Need some help wrangling the responsibilities of your day-to-day life? Eggy is here to help! We understand the plight of parents like you and have built an app specifically designed to make getting things done easier. Take control of the chaos and download it today!
Eggy is free and is all about collaborating and sharing the load with your support network and wider community. With shared calendars, to-do lists, and a personal vault to screenshot and save personal bills and documents - Eggy has you covered.