Inside: The mental workload of moms is overwhelming and can be all consuming. But the workload can be shared with your spouse with this one simple trick that every parent needs to know about. It’s life-changing.
Purple t-shirt day is tomorrow, call the pediatrician, remember to buy more coffee.
RSVP to the birthday party, book the sitter, and bake cupcakes for the 4th bake sale.
Return the library books, new baseball cleats are needed, and we still need to buy more coffee.
The list of things moms need to remember is overwhelmingly long.
Jami Ingledue nailed it when she penned the HuffPost article about The Mental Workload of Mothers.
What is a mental workload of moms?
Jami defines it beautifully: “One of the most difficult things about the work of parenting is that so much of it is invisible.
So one parent—let’s be honest, usually the dad—can think they are doing the same amount of work as the other. But sometimes they can just be completely unaware of all of the many things that the other parent—usually the mom—is completely taking care of.
Often the most tiring aspect of this work is being the “Knower of All the Things.” So often the mom is the one who holds all of the behind-the-scenes knowledge about all of the many things involved in raising a kid. The one who plans, who notices, who anticipates, who researches, who worries. This is often referred to as ‘the mental load’.”
And after she published it, millions of moms around the world nodded their heads in agreement.
Moms are the ‘Knower of All the Things.’
The mental workload of moms is remembering that there’s a load of laundry that has to get washed because the baseball jersey has grass stains and the dog’s vaccines are due and if you don’t sign up today for the class party, you’re stuck bringing homemade gingerbread houses for the entire class.
And even if your husband is on top of it, is a true co-parent, and will eye roll if anyone says he’s babysitting his kids, he still probably isn’t in charge of the mental workload.
Because we can have all the conversations in the world over a plate of cold chicken nuggets after the kids go to bed, but it’s still never enough to catch him up.
And frankly, it’s easier to do it all than explain it, delegate it, and cross my fingers he remembers.
Dads tend not to worry about lice, or teacher appreciation gifts, or family photos that need to be booked two months in advance for the holiday cards.
So how can moms share the mental workload with their spouses?
Can dads really take some of this responsibility off of our shoulders?
Sharing the Mental Workload of Moms with Dads
My husband is a hands-on, incredible father who happened to work from home until just recently.
He was there to help out often, but I had to tell him what I needed him to do.
Until we discovered a trick that magically eased my mental workload as a mom.
This trick was discovered so completely by accident, I didn’t even notice the change right away. Until this happened.
The kids came bounding through the door after school.
I answered their questions, filled out their school paperwork, and asked about their day, all while quietly recycling “artwork” and helping with homework.
My husband walked into the kitchen, scrolling on his phone and announced to my son, “Your math test is on Friday. I have a few minutes between conference calls, let’s study.”
I hadn’t found the time to check my email this afternoon so I didn’t know about the test yet.
So I appreciated him knowing about it and stepping in to help without me asking him to help.
But I still didn’t realize this was the result of a simple change we made.
The next morning my husband made the lunches and casually reminded my daughter, “Chorus is early today. You need to hurry and finish getting ready so you’re on time.”
I checked my phone and sure enough, he was right.
That afternoon, we were scrambling to get ready and out the door for my daughter’s soccer match.
We were searching for cleats and shin guards and smelling her jersey to make sure it was clean. While I pulled my daughter’s hair into a ponytail, my husband handed us the jersey and said, “Coach wants you to wear blue for the game.”
I looked up at my husband in shock.
How did he know?
But for the moment, I didn’t really care.
I was just so relieved to not be the only one who knows things.
It was so reassuring to not be the only parent responsible for tests, soccer jersey colors, and chorus schedules.
So what’s the difference?
What was the change?
One simple thing we did to share the mental workload with dad:
It’s so mind-blowing simple, yet the consequence is well, mind-blowing.
This year, when we filled out paperwork for all of our kids’ teachers, religious schools, sports teams, and extracurricular activities, we included my husband’s email on all the paperwork.
I’m not sure why we added him. I don’t even remember doing it.
But it has been a game changer in our parenting…and my stress levels.
Now, my husband gets every email and notification I do regarding the kids.
Pta emails, coach emails, teacher emails.
He gets just as many emails flooding his inbox regarding the kids that I do.
So the emails come rolling in, and I don’t have to take the time to tell him the kids need to bring something to school or that after school the kids need to be somewhere.
He already knows.
He’s already reminding the kids to grab what they need.
He’s already programming in the directions of where the kids need to be rather than waiting for me to text him the address.
It’s such a relief.
All because he gets the same emails I do.
And it’s been life-changing for us.
My mental workload is lessened because the knowing of all the things is shared more equally.
Which leaves me more time to make cupcakes for the next bake sale.