The mental load is on everybody’s lips at the moment and I am so glad it’s been one of the hot topics of 2017. I had been feeling this ‘mental load’ for years and could not pinpoint why my mind could never really relax, why I constantly seemed to feel mentally drained.
If you have not come across yet the concept of mental load, I would really like to encourage you to take a look at more of French artist Emma’s comics to understand what this means. She has not only captured our issue so brilliantly but her work created such a buzz that everyone started talking about the subject.
The mental load is the fact of always having to remember everything involved in running the household you share with your partner and/or your kids. This takes a toll as the mental load doesn’t give you any rest by. You may be watching TV with your partner while trying to remember whether you signed your child’s reading record and reminding yourself to send a card to your goddaughter for her birthday.
Running a household especially once you have kids is like running your very own company but you wear all the hats: cook, PA, nurse, party planner, chauffeur, cleaner….
The problem is that running a household while making sure your family has all it needs and is well looked after in every possible way is real work!
“The problem is this is a whole job in itself,” Emma says in the comic. “So when we ask women to take on this task of the organisation, and at the same time execute a large portion, in the end, it represents 75 percent of the work.”
If you are interested to read more about the subject here are a few links:
- an article in The Guardian – click here
- an article in the Huffington Post – click here to read
- link to an interview with the artist Emma who brought the subject to light with her comics – (interview in French) – click here
My views are, that I am so delighted we are talking about this subject. I feel relieved we have words to talk about it and that the subject is no longer taboo. I also feel relieved more men will be aware of the topic…however my priority in all that is: what can we do to change the situation and how can we better deal with this mental load.
SO HOW TO FIX IT?
First of all, what can we do with ourselves?
3 things we can do to help us
- Make sure to take a break/self-care: having your own activity, going out with friends, going on a weekend away by yourself…What has worked for me is
*I try very hard to keep my pilates class once a week which is a moment for myself where I need to concentrate so much on the exercise we do that my brain switches off from all my other worries and to do list. It’s a real break for my overzealous brain! You could try any activity or maybe meditation. I tried last year the Headspace app and I was surprised at how relaxing the experience turned to be. You can get 10 free short sessions and/or then subscribe for more specific or thorough exercises.
*I also go out into Central London to see exhibitions, do some photography or catch up with other friends as often as I can even if it means sometimes compromising a little bit on family time
*I go to College once a week where I do my photography course, away from my duties as a mum & wife
- Reduce your expectations: I stopped hoping to have everything so perfect in my life which gives me some breathing space and I also allow myself sometimes to fail. It happens to all of us after all!
- Delegate: I still try to make things as easy as possible to l’Homme when I leave him in charge of the 3 little ones but sometimes, I give him things to do and you know what, they might not be done the way I would have done them, but I try to just let go (it’s bl$$dy hard, I must say but I got to keep doing it!)
Not that the previous and current generations of men are completely lost, perhaps they just need realignment. But the answer lies in the future. How can we rewire our sons to reduce the mental load of women?
I found the list below in an article in Sunday Times which I thought gave us great ideas:
Teach by example
Boys and girls need to learn that the load should be shared. If a woman takes on the load at home, even if she complains, it forms a continuum for her sons and daughters.
We need to teach our boys to become good men!
Emotions are cool
I am a believer that boys should be entitled and encouraged to express their feelings and emotions as much as girls. I regularly tell my boy when he tells me not mean things how they sometimes end up upsetting me and make me feel sad. I want him to understand that words have a meaning. Equally, it is ok for him to have a good cry when things don’t work out his way.
Studies show that the expectation that men cannot be sad, hurt or fearful, leads to higher rates of suicide and mental health issues. It also leads to poor understanding of emotions in partners.
Teach him to nurture
Playing house and playing with dolls does not make him less of a man, it makes him learn to parent and cohabit. I was glad I let my boy play with his little sister’s buggy toy!
Stop with the traditional gender shit
Blue is not for boys, nor is Spider-Man, everyone can love unicorns if they want to. Get girls the ships and aircraft toys, too, they are so cool. My eldest daughter loved playing football as a toddler and loved playing with trains too. She is very girly now so what’s the deal?
Boys are not always braver than girls – my boy did not want to hold a snake in his hands when he was younger but my older girl did it without batting an eyelid!
– and some girls can run faster. It all starts with the language. Women should not be doing the groceries or planning every dinner alone.
Be a better man to breed better men
Trash dads breed trash sons – and belittled daughters. Be aware of the gender roles as well as the unhealthy pornography, misogyny, objectification and the sexism. Do as you would want your daughters to receive.
Filter what they consume in media and in life. From same-sex, to adoption and single-parent homes, expose boys and girls to what it takes to create a family – lots of support.
Encourage feminist mediums
Strong women and female heroes and protagonists are there, if you look. If it has to be The Hunger Games and Wonder Woman, so be it. Expose girls to strength and bravery, and boys to women who are leaders so it does not surprise them, but becomes an expectation.
Teach sexual awareness and autonomy
The fight is not just in the home and the kitchen. Consent problems start with miseducation. Use age-appropriate discussions to talk about healthy sexuality and sexual equality.
This uber cool ‘Fearless Female’ tee shirt is from Mutha Hood goods. It is a super soft organic tee I love! Check out Gemma’s other products from her collection here, she has cracking statement tee shirts and sweatshirts as well as pins, mugs…Give her some love from me! (#notsponsored): https://muthahoodgoods.com
Thank you so much to fellow blogger from Chic at Any Age for taking the pictures of me on the Southbank. She is giving me the confidence to be the real me when I pose! Do check out her blog, she is a wonderfully elegant and stylish lady and always have brilliant fashion tips for you.