This post is part of an editorial series, brought to you by Caduceus Medical Group, Facial Aesthetic Concepts, and Zammex. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and insight about your health.
I first read about the mental load a year ago – and I felt like everything I had been feeling for the last 7 years since having children was completely and utterly validated.
The metal load and my mental health went hand in hand.
There isn’t an actual definition in the dictionary yet, although I’m sure it will get one soon. The best description I can find for the mental load is from a Slate article and it says this:
The mental load is the behind-the-scenes work that makes anyone in your family showing up to anything (dentist appointments, volunteer shifts, play dates, child’s birthday party) on time, properly dressed and if necessary, with gift in hand, possible.
That behind the scenes thinking, planning, organizing – in my case paying every single bill on time, meal planning, grocery shopping, AND working a full-time job, on top of being the primary caregiver, driver, and all-around everything to my two children – is what takes a massive toll on my mental health.
For so long I found myself tired, even though I wasn’t physically doing exhaustive work. I found myself easily irritable and far less likely to give others (especially those in my family) grace.
The mental load was the reason for my struggle.
I remember once asking my husband to sit with me while I brain-dumped. I told him to write down everything because otherwise, I was going to forget it all. As I cooked – he wrote.
The list had over 30 items that I had to either remember to do, get, take, etc.
He was shocked at how much I stored in my brain and how much I had to remember and execute within the next few days.
I found that instead of allowing the mental load to overwhelm me, consume me, and make me pretty awful to be around – if I shared this mental load and released the responsibility it no longer had control over me.
I am a person who takes on responsibility and sometimes to my own detriment I wear it as a badge. I don’t like to ask for help – EVER. But parenting is not meant to be done alone. Life is not meant to be done alone.
There was no way I was going to survive the next twenty years shouldering this all by myself.
I can’t say that the mental load will ever get lighter – but I know now that sharing this burden makes it easier to carry. So I’m learning to communicate my needs better with my husband, make more time for myself, and temper my expectations for both myself and my children. I’m learning to clear my slate a bit in order to clear my head. It is a process, but I am trying.
How do you cope with the mental load?