top of page

The Mental Load of Motherhood

overwhelmed mom with kids dealing with the mental load of motherhood
The mental load of motherhood can place a burden on a woman and her family. Learn to adjust expectations to ease stress and workload.

I recently came across this article from the ScaryMommy blog, that describes the mental load of motherhood perfectly. Reading the author's description of the “invisible workload of motherhood" is something so many of us can relate to. That's not meant to discount all the amazing husbands/dads out there who carry a heavy load of household and parenting responsibilities. However, many women (friends, clients, co-workers, etc) are personally struggling with the weight of "the mental load." The mental load can be described as a running to-do list kept inside our heads. It is a virtual task manager and checklist of all the moving pieces in our personal and professional lives that we keep track of on a daily basis. And it feels like it never ends and our brains never turn off. Many husbands and partners are willing to actively engage in household tasks and parenting responsibilities when asked (ridding the house of rodents, fixing plumbing issues, putting kids to bed, et al.). But not many of them are keeping track of when the diaper stash runs out, if the kids are due for dentist appointments, or when we should register them for swim lessons. By the way, should we even register them for the dang swim lessons?! Typically the female partner in a heterosexual marriage takes care of most of these responsibilities and more - restocking grocery items, ordering birthday gifts (thank goodness for Amazon Prime!), and checking when our cars are due for emissions tests.

I can’t tell you how often I see a sigh of relief on the faces of clients when we talk about this mental load and they realize that someone else is acknowledging it and that other people experience it too. And while the camaraderie of that is certainly comforting, we still need some skills and strategies to cope with this. One of the biggest concepts I promote is adjusting expectations. I purposefully like to use the word adjusting rather than lowering, because in certain phases of parenting, life can be pretty hectic and overwhelming. I firmly believe it is OKAY to adapt to those temporary periods of overwhelm to make things less stressful for ourselves. I think adapting to your circumstances (by adjusting your expectations) is a very acceptable thing to do. Not to mention, it's a great way to be a little kind to yourself.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard recently was from Di Ter Avest who's a local mom and professional organizer (check out her site here). Di shared some organizational tips at a talk on managing work-life balance and suggested maintaining themes for meals every night of the week (i.e. Monday is always pasta, Tuesday is always Mexican, etc.), which essentially eliminates some of the 'mental load' of having to think about, plan, and shop for dinner. Brilliant! Such a simple and easy way to adjust expectations and lift some of the stress off our shoulders. There are probably dozens of ways we could adjust expectations in our day or week to give ourselves a little bit of a break from the mental load. Start by being aware of where you can make this happen and give yourself some grace. Chances are you doing a better job at carrying the mental load of motherhood than you even realize! But when it's too heavy, sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to put the load down. Make sure to take the necessary time to assess what areas the mental load is most draining to you, and cut yourself some slack!

The mental load of motherhood is a popular blog topic. Check out these other interesting perspectives on what it is and how to manage it:

drawing of a woman with a scrambled brain
The mental load of motherhood can make us feel like our brains are not capable of turning off.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page