This guest blog post is by the wonderful and inspirational Dr Robyn Miller from The Mental Load Project. Here Robyn spills the beans on how to share the mental load that comes with parenthood. If you've ever been at your wits end, feeling like you are constantly nagging your partner and your children, having meltdowns over the stress and responsibility that comes with running a household, feeling unappreciated for the millions of "small" things you do... this post is for you. Read on!
The Mental Load Project is an online community to help women and men recognise and re-balance all the invisible labour that is involved in running a household. I first came upon “the mental load” as a concept several years ago. The Mental Load refers to all that organising, thinking, planning and preparation that goes into everyday family life beyond just doing the physical chores. And it is largely carried by women across the world!
For me, it wasn’t until my husband and I adopted our puppy and welcomed our daughter into our lives that the imbalance in the mental load really hit home. Whilst we could share domestic jobs of cooking and cleaning, it was still me who was noticing when clothes were getting too small for our daughter, remembering when the puppy next needed vaccinations and organising timely birthday presents and cards.
At first, this really bothered me. Why was my brain filled with all these details and why could they not be shared? I nagged my husband and whinged with girlfriends, but nothing really changed. So I decided to google the solution – surely someone, somewhere had the answer! But even that didn’t help! There were lots of pages and articles about the mental load but few provided any real solutions or strategies. So that’s when I created my own. What most surprised me was that this simple strategy actually worked! By combining my skills and experience in psychology and behaviour change as well as my training in organisational management, I had created a 6-step plan that worked.
And that is how The Mental Load Project was born. It is an online community and course raising awareness about the mental load and it's impact on women and our families and society. And the course gives people the opportunity to learn and implement the exact plan I created and followed to rebalance the mental load permanently in my household.
When people ask me how to reduce the mental load and all the associated overwhelm, my first answer is share it! But you must try to make sure the other person (your partner, your children (if old enough) and any other support people you have) are responsible for whole tasks rather than just delegating them parts of tasks. This means the person cooking dinner isn’t just responsible for preparing the meal, but they are also responsible for deciding what to cook and making sure the ingredients are available (because this takes mental time and energy too!).
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