Being a mama, wife, friend and so on means being the wearer of many, many hats. Trying to remember countless school commitments, extra-curricular activities, work out what we are all eating for dinner, wondering whether our internet connection is fast enough and should I start shopping around, to trying to remember not to put my husbands favourite t-shirts in the tumble drier because they ALWAYS shrink and so on and so forth. It's mentally draining.
I was talking to a friend about this recently, about how trying to remember every thing all the time is so tiring. She too is a mama of 2 beautiful boys and we were catching up over much needed caffeine. It was then she told me about women and the 'mental load' - a phrase that I had never heard of before. It was off the back of an article written by Leah Ruppanner at ABC News in Australia (http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-09-14/the-mental-load-and-what-to-do-about-it/8942032) and I read it, all whilst nodding my head like a nodding dog throughout the article.
As Mamas, and as women in general, we allow ourselves to take on the mental burden for those around us. Remembering every little detail to help make sure we don't miss a beat in our family and work life. Eventually it all becomes a bit unsustainable and ultimately we end up dropping a ball - or having a meltdown, and burning out.
It's also exacerbated by the social media and media in general. I mean, surely we should all be creating Pinterest worthy lunchboxes for our kids, learning how to fold fitted sheets perfectly all whilst creating the 'capsule wardrobe' for work, whilst making sure we actually ask for that long-overdue raise or promotion at work. And as much as I love losing myself in a good old scroll through Instagram, looking at beautiful interiors, immaculately dressed kids and looking at pictures of food, it can sometimes leave us feeling as though we are falling short.
I was talking to another friend recently. Very successful in her career, she's pretty senior in her department. 2 beautiful kids and married too. Her boss has been talking to her about her next promotion and her career path over the next 6 months. We talked about it for a while and I told her to "go for it"... it may be scary but she's totally able to smash it out the park. But you know what bothered her - juggling everything else at home - crappy stuff like laundry and cooking. Do you know what I said to her - what can you STOP doing that's going to mentally free you up from worry?
And then that got me thinking... instead of thinking about stuff that I need to do; what about the stuff that I need to STOP doing? There's an element here that's to do with control for sure. Like for example, if my kitchen is clean, floor hoovered and mopped every night, then I feel like I'm nailing it. Where I got this whole self-imposed rule from, I don't know. But I can't always make sure it's immaculate every single night, unless I stay up later than I'd like sometimes, and so straight off the bat, I'm setting myself up to feel like a failure!
So, I've started to think about how I could ease my own 'mental load' and here's my STOP list so far...
Ironing muslins and bed linen (yes seriously, I was doing this...)
Having set days in the week to clean - just not practical or achievable with a baby. I now clean-as-I-go or when something looks like it needs a clean.
Staying up late when the kids are in bed. 10pm bedtimes at the latest. Any later and I'm cheating myself out of rest.
Cooking from scratch most nights. Batch cooking at the weekend is the way forward.
Saying 'yes' and over-committing. I've always been guilty of this - think I have a case for FOMO. But I end up not getting other important stuff done. Like washing laundry which is fine, until we all run out of clean underwear!
So my challenge to YOU is... what can you put on your STOP list? Think of 3 things right now that really would just
alleviate the mental load for you, if you let yourself off the hook a little, and be a little kinder to yourself.