Lately, my mental load has felt like it’s been overflowing. I mean the kind of overflow where you’re so busy trying to keep track of family schedules and do thirty things at once that you accidentally text your bank manager about your irregular periods. *facepalm*
This week alone, I am responsible for refinancing our loan, connecting our internet to NBN, buying four different birthday presents, organising pest control, cleaning and lawn maintenance services, remembering that one child has to wear green for St Patrick’s day and take in something that represents her culture to preschool, while the other one has to wear mufti/orange for Harmony Day and take in Easter eggs for a raffle.
Throw in some doctors appointments, birthday parties, newborn presents, having friends over for lunch, and we still haven’t even begun to cover the list, which could genuinely go on and on but would only serve to bore and/or overwhelm us all!
You know it’s true, because it’s no different for you.
I only have two children and I take on the mental load in our family because I work part-time, while my husband (who runs his own business) works a 50-60 hour week.
Many of you have more kids than me, work longer hours than me and have even more balls up in the air.
Some of you do it with no help at all. Quite frankly, I’ve no idea how!
But we do all get by (and usually without accidentally giving our banker a blow-by-blow of our menstrual cycles).
So below are some tips for keeping your mental load (and importantly, your mental health) in check and we’d LOVE to know yours…
5 tips for Managing Your Mental Load
It may not always be ideal, but if there are tasks you can eliminate from your mental load altogether by completing them immediately, then complete them immediately.
Don’t let little things like signing permission slips pile on to your mental load if you have an opportunity to get them done when they first land on your kitchen bench.
Write down EVERYTHING
Use whatever system works for you to record every appointment, birthday and random ‘thing to do’ that you need to remember. Whether you use an old-fashioned diary, a calendar hung where the whole family can see it, or an app (I like Cozi) that the family can all share, the very act of recording it will help you remember it.
Talk about it
This works for two reasons. The first is that by hearing yourself verbalise the many things you need to remember, you’ll remember them more effectively. The second is that telling your partner, or your friends, how much is going on with you will alert them to the fact that you might be a bit tightly-wound meaning that they’ll know not to burden you with anything unnecessary and might also step up to help you more if/where they can. If nothing else, getting it all out and in the open may relieve a little stress for you.
Sometimes, you have to face the fact that you can’t do everything. If you find yourself feeling overloaded because you’re trying to juggle too many commitments at once, then consider letting some things go. Maybe your child will have to miss soccer training occasionally or you might need to push a meeting out a few days, these things aren’t the end of the world. Prioritise the health (physical AND mental) of yourself and your family and any appointments/dates/events that would be devastating or terribly inconvenient to miss.
Know that sometimes you will forget to return the library books on time and your child will be ok. If, however, you find you regularly have to miss out on things, or can’t get your kids to all their extra-curricular activities without sacrificing something else, then you may need to re-evaluate how much you have committed to.
Accept, and ask for, help
If you’re lucky enough to be offered help from family or friends, don’t be too proud to take it.
If you’re not offered any help, you may need to seek it out, and this is fine too! We all need help sometimes.
You might be able to make simple trades that are mutually beneficial- like asking a friend to walk your child to school if you have an important meeting and offering to walk their child home so that you’re not both heading to school and back twice every school day.
Perhaps you can book in a couple of hours a week with your parents, in-laws or even a professional service (if you can afford it) so that you can run errands/plan appointments for that window and not have to worry about dragging around a baby, nappy bag or little kids.
Whatever extra time you’re able to carve out in your week by accepting or asking for help is priceless, and you don’t need to manage on your own.
Hopefully this list helps you to lighten or at least better manage your mental load. Don’t forget you can always talk to our Facebook Group, Mums of the Shire – Community, if you’re looking for advice on any and all things parenting!