What is the "invisible load" and how to manage it?

Our daily responsibilities frequently exceed our ability to handle them. Trying to keep track of what has to be done all the time can cause mental and emotional strain known as "invisible or mental load." This cognitive load often impacts women and mothers.

The Invisible Load of Motherhood

Juggling your various roles and responsibilities can be mentally and emotionally draining.

Every day, you balance life and work. You get your children ready, drive them to school, manage their activities, plan and prepare meals, take kids to doctor's appointments, keep your cool during their tantrums, clean the house, delegate tasks, help with homework... and the list goes on and on and on.

Most women are used to keeping track of these and many other personal and family activities without much thought.

Even if your partner helps you with these tasks, you may make mental notes to keep track of everything and ensure that everyone is taken care of and satisfied.

You just keep going, performing the invisible work that keeps things running smoothly. This overlooked and unpaid mental, emotional, and physical labour most women silently perform to make the family's life easier is known as the "invisible load of motherhood."

Most days, though, you might feel exhausted by the end of the day. This unseen labour can often lead to stress, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, or burnout, harming your mental health, relationships, and life satisfaction.

So, here five ways to reduce the mental load and protect your well-being.

Identify the Invisible Labour You Are Doing

The first step in taking care of your mental load is to list everything you do daily. This will help you identify invisible labour, set priorities, and delegate tasks.

Ask for Help

Consider having an honest discussion with your partner about how exhausting handling everything for the family may sometimes be. Talk about your expectations and ask that they take up part of the chores. Then, create a weekly or monthly schedule that divides the responsibilities and stick to it.

Set Boundaries

Saying "no" can help you prioritise your time, needs, and well-being.

Many of us struggle to say "no" to our families' demands because we don't want to disappoint them.

Even if you refuse to get the kids ready to leave the house on the weekends, you may have a list of reasons to justify doing so to your partner. However, learning to sometimes say "no" without explanation may help you create personal boundaries and maintain good health.

Reconnect with Friends

You might not have as much time as you'd like to spend with old friends, but you can still meet up for coffee or lunch. So, put it on your calendar and try to get away from your daily chores and responsibilities at least once a week to spend time with friends.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is vital to our mental health and well-being. So, realise that it's not selfish to want the weekend mornings to yourself or to spend time away from other family members.

Make sure to get enough rest and eat healthily. Also, don't skip your workouts and maybe start a new practice of gratitude or mindfulness.

Taking care of yourself can help you focus on your needs, manage stress, feel more relaxed, and be happier.

https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2015/11/04/raising-kids-and-running-a-household-how-working-parents-share-the-load/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-018-1001-x

https://hercanberra.com.au/life/family/how-to-split-the-invisible-load-in-your-household-for-good/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimelsesser/2022/03/14/women-are-suffering-from-an-exhaustion-gap-according-to-new-study/?sh=27262bf537b3

https://gdc.unicef.org/resource/why-women-are-more-burned-out-men

https://femtechinsider.com/challenges-motherhood-modern-world/

https://aifs.gov.au/research/family-matters/no-86/persistent-work-family-strain-among-australian-mothers

 

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