Challenging the Mental Load of Motherhood: Why Mums Carry it and How to Deal with It

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Motherhood is a beautiful journey that is full of love, joy, and wonder. It's also pretty damn hard work… most of which unfortunately goes unnoticed. 

From managing school schedules to organising the household, mothers carry a mental load that is often overlooked and undervalued. This load can be overwhelming, leaving mothers feeling exhausted, stressed, and burned out. Today we’ll explore the mental load of motherhood, why it's often carried by mothers, and how we can work towards a more equal balance.

What Is The Mental Load Of Motherhood?

The mental load of motherhood refers to the invisible work that mothers do to manage and organise their households and families. It includes everything from remembering to make appointments, coordinating schedules, managing finances, planning meals, keeping track of school events, and more. This work is often done behind the scenes and is very rarely acknowledged or valued.

So, why is it often carried by mothers? One reason is that society has traditionally assigned caregiving responsibilities to women. 

This gendered expectation can result in mothers feeling like they are solely responsible for the well-being of their children and household. Additionally, many mothers feel that they are the most qualified or capable person to manage the mental load and may struggle to delegate or share responsibilities with their partners or other caregivers.

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Societal Pressure On Mothers

The societal pressure on mothers to be perfect caregivers can contribute to the mental load of motherhood. Mothers often feel like they need to do everything themselves to be "good" mother, which can lead to feelings of overwhelm, guilt, and burnout

This pressure is often intensified by social media, which presents unrealistic expectations of motherhood. This can create a culture of comparison and competition. Not ideal when it comes to mum guilt!

Mum Guilt And The Mental Load Of Motherhood

"Mum guilt" is a common experience for many mothers and can contribute to the mental load of motherhood. Mothers often feel guilty if they delegate tasks or take time for themselves, which can lead to a sense of overwhelm and burnout. 

However, prioritising self-care is crucial for maternal mental health and well-being. Mothers need to set boundaries and make time for themselves, whether that's taking a bath, going for a walk, or simply sitting quietly with a cup of tea.

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Strategies For Managing The Mental Load Of Motherhood

Managing the mental load of motherhood can be challenging, but it's not impossible. Here are some practical strategies for managing the mental workload:

  1. Prioritise tasks: Identify the most important tasks and focus on those first. Delegate or postpone less urgent tasks.
  2. Share responsibilities: Discuss caregiving responsibilities with your partner or other caregivers, and work together to divide tasks.
  3. Make a schedule: Create a schedule or calendar to keep track of appointments, events, and tasks.
  4. Seek support: Building a support system is important for managing the mental load of motherhood. This can include reaching out to friends and family for help. Perhaps join a community of mothers or seek professional support. Therapy or counselling can also be a helpful tool for managing motherhood anxieties.
  5. Let go of perfectionism: It’s important to remember that not one person can do everything. It’s okay (and only human) to make mistakes. Focus on progress rather than perfection.
  6. Practice self-care: Prioritising yourself and self-care is crucial for managing the mental load of motherhood. Looking after yourself is looking after your children. Whatever helps you relax and unwind is always going to be beneficial.

How We Can Challenge The Mental Load Of Motherhood

Mothers are not alone in carrying the mental load of motherhood. Partners and other caregivers can play an active role in managing the workload and promoting equality. This means taking on responsibilities and being proactive in caregiving.

It also means advocating for policies and practices that support working parents, such as flexible work arrangements and affordable childcare.

Mothers also have the power to advocate for themselves and each other. By speaking out and sharing their experiences, mothers can help raise awareness of the mental load of motherhood and challenge the gendered expectations of caregiving. Together, we can work towards a more equitable and supportive society for all parents.

In conclusion, the mental load of motherhood is a significant but often overlooked aspect of caregiving. Mothers carry a heavy burden of invisible work that can be overwhelming and stressful.

However, by recognising the value and importance of this work, sharing responsibilities, and prioritising self-care, mothers can manage their mental workload and improve their well-being. It's time to challenge the gendered expectations of caregiving and promote a more equitable division of labour so that all parents can thrive!

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