It’s late at night and I’m sitting on the couch watching my favourite show on Netflix. My three kids have all gone to bed and the house is quiet. On the outside, I look relaxed, but on the inside my mind is running through task lists, scanning schedules and charting the chores that need to be done in the coming days.
If you could hear what happens inside the minds of mothers, it would sound like a cassette tape, running on fast forward, at high volume. A piercingly loud voice chattering at full speed – never ending.
Our minds don’t rest. Ever.
Whether working in a full-time office job, juggling part-time gigs from home or managing the household as a stay-at-home mom, there’s one thing that is the main cause of burnout for moms from all walks of life - the massive mental workload that we take on while raising kids.
I came across a story on Medium.com called “How Invisible Work & Sacrifices Affect Working Moms.” After conducting 13 interviews with high-profile career moms, the co-authors of the article were hoping to answer the question: Why is it so hard to be a working mom?
While all interview participants had supportive parenting partners at home, it quickly became apparent that they all took on a disproportionate amount of the household chores and the invisible work, too - tasks such as scheduling appointments, filling out forms, paying fees, preparing lunches and making sure sports uniforms and dance leotards are cleaned and ready for the next day.
But it’s not just the papers and laundry that are constantly piling up for moms, it’s also the mental load that we carry - the to-do lists that we don’t write down - that is the heaviest load we bear.
When I travel for work, I hand write long lists for my husband - not because I don’t think that he can handle the busy schedule, but because there are so many important details that I keep in my head. Pick up and drop off schedules and locations, extracurricular details such as which dance shoes to pack, and whether soccer cleats or soft-soled shoes are needed, and pre-planned playdates and the contact information for each parent. Money for popcorn days, and due dates for forms to be filled out, and rotating hot lunch days, and field trips, and the list goes on and on.
So why do we put so much pressure on ourselves as moms to make a mental note of every little detail and store it in our heads, instead of passing the information on to the other parent, so that the workload can be more evenly distributed? Is this massive mental workload a self-inflicted burden?
It’s not about whether we work in an office or in the home, it’s the invisible tasks that we take on, and the mental workload of keeping the family engine running, that is burning us all out. If we really want to see a shift in support, moms need to hand over the steering wheel and give their partners a turn in the driver’s seat, too.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor and marketing consultant. Find her online at @bitsofbee.