The Mental Load – Tips to lighten that load!
The mental load is REAL! As mother’s, our brains are overworked. Add in jobs, spouses, pets, friends, in general a life outside of your children and you have more than overload, you have a mental shit-load! I have had the luxury to be a SAHM and recently went back to work full-time. I can assure you, my brain was not on vacation the last 7 years I was home with my little people. Just as I suspected would happen, I would be carrying the same weight when I went back to work as I did when I was home. Que unbalanced life, missed appointments, never returned phone calls, unpaid bills, reply texts typed but never sent, personal sickness, family illness, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, and the list goes on! Literal mental shit-load.
See mother’s tend to be the family managers, a label someone somewhere decided was a great idea and even though husbands don’t call us that, it’s an assumed title. The go-to for everything whether we know the answer or have the tools or not. The kids know, the husband knows, we will figure it out, because that is what we do. I can assure you that my brain, at any given moment, will have at least 50 tabs open at one time. Prioritizing things mentally until I forget half of the shit I knew I should have written down. No one is behind me picking up my breadcrumbs. I just told a friend yesterday, “my memory is not what it used to be. I blame the twins”. Honestly, that is only HALF of the problem.
The Mental Load
My brain is overworked, THAT is the entire problem. I have “Mom Brain”. I’ve been carrying the mental load for my family for so long that I’m dropping balls. Not just one here or there, multiple, and frequently. As recently as December, the days leading up to Christmas to be exact, I was done. Dunzo! Mentally, physically, emotionally, I had hardly anything left to give anyone. I had been on an emotional roller coaster since Thanksgiving and by Christmas I was broken down. Forcing a smile while my children opened gifts was even hard. I couldn’t muster up the energy to even go to my in-laws on Christmas Day. Which caused a huge rift between my husband and I to the point of him telling me to “get the fuck out”. ((We’re good now, no worries)) I was so tapped, I couldn’t even find the words to fight back. Mental load at max capacity causing an emotional shit storm. I’d been stretched thin for too long and my husband was seemingly unaware. Not because he’s a ignorant, but because so much of my burden is invisible.
What he can’t see is that while I’m unloading the dishwasher I am mentally making note of the bills due or the low balance in the checking account. While I’m folding laundry I’m tuning out the sounds around me and I’m adding things to my mental grocery list and reminding myself that I have to make lunches tomorrow before I leave for work. There is no more room at the Inn! Time to figure this out and make some changes! It’s not as easy as just asking him to do something to help. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works! I have asked. Multiple times, for multiple years, trust me, I’ve asked. No one asked me to wash the dishes, or do the laundry, or get groceries, or make dinner, or pick up the living room or clean the house or any of the other hundred things I do a day. No one asked me. I just always have to remember. When Mom stops doing it all, the entire family suffers.
I came across this viral comic describing the Mom’s and our mental load. Emma, the creator, had her original post translated to English and it’s absolutely perfect in every sense! Check out it out in its entirety right here.
Where’s the instruction guide? Tips to lighten the load
There is NO instruction guide to figuring this whole mom thing out. There are probably friends of yours that are too ashamed to even admit anything close to what I just did. Too many people are concerned with “what will other people think”….uh, maybe that you are a human and not a robot! Guess what, until you admit it’s a problem, it’s just going to keep happening and nothing will change. If you don’t have any friends to talk to, or someone to get ideas on how to make a change, you really should make google your friend with benefits!
- As I mentioned in a previous blog post, January is Self-Love Month I am taking steps to better myself mentally. Mindfulness has become huge for me. Because if I’m not happy NO ONE IS HAPPY. That’s never going to change. My mood determines how my husband and my kids react. So starting with me is first priority.
- Raise your little dudes to be modern men. Teach by example, break the mold and stop with the traditional gender shit!
- Talk to your husband, express expectations and remind him that you are a unit and it’s ridiculously unfair for everything to fall on your shoulders.
- Learn to meditate. This has been a huge game changer for me as of recent.
- Remove at least one activity from either your life or your kids. Spend less time running to activities or arranging transportation and use that extra time to do something as a family.
- Get rid of an object in your house that is causing you mental clutter. I loathe clutter! I’m always throwing things away. If it’s causing clutter, get rid of it!
- Start a journal or a bullet journal. Even something small that fits into your purse where you can jot down thoughts or ideas is perfect. Someplace to actually WRITE it down not type it into the notes app on your phone.
- Create a central communication station or wall in your house. Someplace close to where everyone can see it and add to it if they need to. Use a family planning calendar like Cozi, we LOVE this in our house. Everyone has access to it either online or via a mobile app.
- Finally, put someone else in charge of one of your “mom” tasks. Even something as small as having your little people put their clean laundry away, or loading/unloading the dishwasher. Chores never hurt me as a kid, put those little twerps to work!
Always remember you are amazing and you are awesome and you are doing a fabulous job! If all you do in one day is keep your little people alive and fed then it’s a successful day! Don’t be too hard on yourself and remember to ask for help before it gets too bad.