It occurred to me, as I sat down to write about the 5 Things You Can do to Lighten the Mental Load of Motherhood, that it was rather ironic because all week I struggled with the endless list of tasks to juggle and keep straight in my mind.
In addition to packing for holidays and being ready for back to school when we returned; kid #1’s orthodontic appliance broke (twice!!); the dog chewed the straps off kid #2’s goggles that he needed for swim practice (twice!!); and I had to remember to follow up with kid #3’s doctor.
But I’m certain it’s not just me. Ask any mom about the invisible workload of motherhood and she knows exactly what you’re talking about.
It’s the long list of things that take up so much time, but go completely unnoticed. The things that are easily forgotten until they spark a crisis and all of a sudden become SUPER important.
Did I sign that permission slip?
Find the lost stuffy before bedtime?
Remember to register the kids for swimming lessons?
What size shoes will _______ need for back to school?
In her article entitled The Mental Workload of a Mother, Jami Ingledue describes the most tiring aspect of this as being the “Knower of All the Things;”
Do you ever feel like you are the only one holding all of the “behind-the-scenes knowledge” about the many things involved in raising a kid and running your house?
Carrying the “mental load” means being the one who plans, who notices, who anticipates, who researches, and who worries. It applies to nearly all aspects of raising kids and managing a household.
The mental weight of trying to do it all, remember it all, and carry the emotional weight of your family can feel overwhelming and exhausting.
When I ask my mom clients “How are you doing?” most of them say “tired”. And it’s not just from lack of sleep. It’s the weight of the long list that is swirling in our mind and the way we judge ourselves harshly when it doesn’t all get done.
If you’re yet not sure if this applies to you, read this checklist “How do I know if I am suffering from the mental load”
5 Things to Lighten the Mental Load of Motherhood
1. Give Yourself a Break:
Notice the way you talk to yourself when you are struggling to juggle “all the things”. Would you talk this way to a friend? Probably not.
Instead, try reminding yourself how tough it is to keep all these things on your plate. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Place a kind hand on your heart. Self-compassion can help you respond better in a crisis.
If you need some guidance, try listening to these self-compassion meditations as a way to build a self-compassion practice so you’ll have something to draw on next time a difficult moment hits.
2. Give up the Quest to do it Perfectly:
Being a busy mom means that you are not going to be able to keep the standards that you wish in all the different parts of your life. Part of lightening the load of motherhood is refusing to put unrealistic expectation on yourself.
What if the dishwasher isn’t loaded perfectly, kids clothes are jammed in drawers rather than being folded neatly or they don’t take xyz lessons this season?
Once you get used to the discomfort of “good enough”, it is quite freeing. It allows you to delegate; not just to your spouse but to your kids too. Not needing things to be done to such a high standard also helps your to set better boundaries about what you are and are not able to take on.
3. Automate and Delegate:
No doubt you’re busy as heck and feel like you are being pulled in five different directions at any given moment; planning dinner, supervising homework, driving to sports, running the bedtime routine, keeping up with cleaning and anything else that has found its way onto your plate. In the midst of this, it feels like an extra task just to ask for the help you need.
Don’t fall in the trap of just doing it yourself!
Finding ways for things to be repeatable and clearly communicated is super helpful for lightening the mental load of motherhood. Plan to do this ahead of time, not in the moment. Once everyone knows what to do, then completely turn that task over to them and take it off you plate.
I am sure you can find a million different ways to do this, but here are some things I love to help me organize, automate and delegate:
*Detailed cleaning routine from Clean Mama which is great for explaining what to do and when.
*A free app called COZI linked to the cleaning routine above. I set it up on my phone and on my older kids devices so it sends them reminders about when to do chores. I don’t have to ask again!
*Meal planing & shopping list app called Plan to Eat. It stores my recipes, makes meal plans and grocery lists.
*Free meal plans every two weeks from the Better Mom so I don’t have to think
4. Be Real With Your Close Mom Friends: Are you feeling overwhelmed? Struggling with mom rage? Being real with you close friend will help you feel less alone and validate what they are going thru too. You may even be able to find creative ways to work together or support each other.
5. Prioritize Self-Care: Self-care is a long-term strategy focused on preventing burnout. Often moms are so exhausted taking care of themselves seems to be the last thing on the list. Other times, they are just uncomfortable with prioritizing their needs and feel like a “bad mom” or guilty for leaving the “to do list” if they take time for themselves.
Look for small ways, like pouring a nice cup of tea, smelling your favourite lotion or sitting down for a few minutes to listen to music or read a book to tend to your needs. Intentionally set aside even 5-10 minutes every day to recharge and care for yourself.
The mental load of motherhood can be so exhausting and overwhelming. Especially at time of high emotion and transitions like we are in this week, as we prepare for back to school, our “mom brains” can feel especially stressed. Remember to respond to yourself with compassion when you can’t get it all done. Expect less of yourself. Proactively find some ways to delegate and automate the sharing of tasks. Cultivate a good group of mom friends to commiserate with and prioritize caring for yourself.
Sometimes motherhood can feel so overwhelming and stressful that self- help is not enough. Counselling can help you process your feelings and find more effective ways to cope. I specialize in working with moms who are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and anxious to help them learn new ways to thrive in their lives.
Find out more about how we can work together.
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