The Juggle is a Struggle - Mental Load and Women’s Role in a COVID-Era Family
Today in our house was a perfect example of what moms (and many dads) have experienced for the past year or so, as we navigate life in the COVID Era. I want to preface this by saying I am absolutely blessed with an amazing husband who dodges traditional gender roles daily and does most of the cooking and cleaning in our house, and for that I am grateful. He also is an extremely involved dad and I wouldn’t change a thing about his parenting style or ability. But when I talk about mental load, I am referring to the intangibles that usually fall on the plate of the woman of the house these days.
For me it’s things like the status of our 2-year-old’s potty training. While all the grandparents are more than willing to participate and help out as much as they can in this progress, it’s me who is researching, making charts, setting pee alarms and coming up with reward systems - not to mention I seem to be the only one having anxious dreams about this topic as well. How else does this mental load topic rear its head - COVID coping. I'm constantly scouring the internet for family-friendly events that are outside, cheap and appropriate for toddlers because let’s face it, I may literally go crazy soon If I continue to stare at the wall behind my desk every day for 8 hours.
Also in the mental load category for most women are scheduling all family activities, healthcare, making sure the kids are “attending” school (parents with kids doing virtual learning are my heroes), grocery lists, planning for holidays or birthdays and so much more. I will admit that at least for myself, much of this load is self-assigned. If I could just verbalize all that swirls around in my mind and causes me such stress, I know my husband would volunteer to take some of it on. But this topic seems to fall in another category that just adds to my load….ITS EASIER TO DO IT MYSELF, THAN TO EXPLAIN IT AND ASSIGN IT TO SOMEONE ELSE. And however could I trust that it would be done exactly to MY standards if I were to let go of the reins on some of it? I know, I am my own worst enemy.
Here are some things that seem to help me with the mental load - Long. Hot. Showers. I do my best thinking there, because it’s the only time of day I am alone and that I am warm (I am and will always be that girl who is cold all the time). When the weather allows, walking is the best solution to my build-up of stress. Just me, the path and nature. As corny as it sounds, it really is calming and works to reset my mind. My New Year’s resolution was to workout with my husband everyday and eat right. I decided today that I will attempt a second resolution. I am going to ask for help with the mental load. I know my husband can and will take it on, I just need to let go. Easier said than done.