A problem shared - A Woman's Mental Load
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A problem shared - A Woman's Mental Load

a month agoPosted in Other

There was an anonymous post on egg recently that deeply resonated with many of us. Thousands of us, to be precise. It was on the subject of equality in the home…well, the significant lack of. If you missed the post, here is what she said:

“Does anyone else feel like screaming and just running away forever? Women wanted equality but why not in the home? We are expected to bring as much to the table as men, plus have the responsibility of all the add-ons: looking after the kids, organising everything for everyone, being in charge of social activities like holidays, nights out, child minding, pet sitting, housework, buying food, washing, making dinner. Oh and holding down a career! Then there’s trying to keep healthy, keep the family healthy. It’s really never ending. My passport seems to be calling me to run away and give it all up!”

The post sparked an outpouring of empathy and admissions of this same struggle - the unequal split of household chores and responsibilities, resulting in a mental load that has become too much. Burn out is all around us, so many of us are on the brink of it…or going through it right now. What was so glaringly obvious from the staggering 374 comments this post received was that whilst equal pay has been so hard fought for in society, equality is still lacking – especially in our own homes. Equal pay does not mean equality.

For many women, running the home predominantly remains our role as well as bringing in a much-needed dual income as we exist in an era of the two mortgage salary to survive. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, whilst there are increasingly more female breadwinners, women still do 60% more unpaid work than men.

Egg Clare Wright, an Edinburgh career and wellbeing coach, admitted on the recent thread: This is real, it’s so common. I often think, have we really progressed: yes and no. The thing is, if we don’t change things, we’ll be subconsciously passing this example onto our children. We do matter. We are important. We are worth it.”

Claire Wright - Egg image

The Times newspaper recently ran an article on the secret to a happier partnership: the Doesband. A partner who has his or her own career yet still does their fair share at home. Someone who simply gets on with it because they understand what needs to happen to make a home run smoothly. They know where the Calpol is kept, what day swimming lessons are, when the football kit is needed and what’s for dinner. These partners share childcare equally, including, crucially, the mental load. What the article pointed out what that this equality in the home sadly remains rarer than it should be. And that we need to set a firmer example for the next generation.

Clare added on her comment: “We shouldn’t put ourselves at the bottom of the pile in terms of time and priorities. Our self-care, happiness and fun are important! This is the message we need to pass onto our children and to girls / younger women so they can feel empowered to ‘own it’ in the different areas of their lives. It’s equally important to set a clear example to our sons / boys too in terms of what real equality is. Awareness is the first step to change. More than anyone, do it for yourself.”

One thing everyone was in agreement with was that equality starts at home, with delegation and equal responsibilities for childcare, cooking, cleaning and admin. Some of us had already achieved this balance and the comments section was also filled with inspiring recommendations and tips on how to create more equality. Here at egg, we went through all your comments and pulled together the top tips on how to regain a bit of ourselves. Read on for some inspiration!

Oh, and want to know happened to our anonymous poster? On the back of the egg advice, she firstly booked two solo holidays where she could be completely alone to enjoy her own company and thoughts. She’s one spa break down and is off to Spain.

Having felt she’d lost her identity, she’s hired a local personal stylist to come and overhaul her look, declutter her wardrobe and create a capsule clothing collection that works for her hectic lifestyle. She’s also joined a gym not only to make herself feel better physically but to give her a new social outlet. Learning not to be as available, and to say no, she also had a few frank conversations with her partner and teenage child.

“I was completely strung out and wasn’t sure how much more I had to give, but even these little steps have made me feel more in control,” she admits. “I’m trying to give myself more slack and be kinder to myself. I would never have spent money on myself, but now I think ‘why not?’. I’m taking back ownership of my own life and making myself feel stronger, mentally.”

Egg Clare Wright has 18 years’ experience as a career coach and also a wellbeing and mindset coach. For more information visit www.nurturehr.co.uk for career coaching and https://thinkhealthybehealthy.co.uk

FAIR PLAY AT HOME

TALK. It’s time to confront this one head on. Hold a family meeting, explain how you’re feeling and work together to find a way to ensure there’s more equal sharing of tasks and mental load. Split the load and agree who does what and when. Get the kids involved too and educate them to know it’s not a woman’s place to do it all. Make their own bed, put their own clothes away, set the table, tidy away their toys in return for treats or pocket money…start involving the children as early as possible.

GET APP FRIENDLY. There are some apps out there that are life savers when it comes to running a household. Online family sharing diaries such as Timetree allow everyone to see who is doing what and when, and provides reminders and notifications so there’s no excuses…great for when someone ‘forgets.’ Book in clubs, working late reminders, time out for yourself and those linked to the account will be notified. There’s also Evernote, a great app for writing down thoughts and to do lists as and when you remember them. This is also a great headspace that allows thoughts to be consolidated, prioritisation of the importance stuff and ensures tasks can be delegated.

app store

OUTSOURCE. If you can afford it, many eggs recommendation outsourcing as much as you can. Cleaning, or even a monthly deep clean to keep on top of things. A cleaner was a big game changer for so many eggs. Laundry, ironing, sewing. A handyman for those jobs that never get done. Even a virtual assistant. Egg Sarah McKenzie, who owns Bumblebee VA, offers helps on both a personal and business level.

DECLUTTER. Invest in a day or two decluttering the house for a healthier mind and happier home. Getting rid of unnecessary ‘stuff’ is proven to have a psychological benefit, freeing both physical and mental space. Or, let the professionals do it. Egg favourite LIFE / EDIT Home Organisation take all the stress out of decluttering and organising a room or home. Don’t forget your wardrobe, either. Create a working wardrobe of a few favourites and it will take seconds to pull together outfits. It also clears mental space too – check out Be More With Less and their minimalist fashion challenge, Project 333. Do the same for the kids too.

SAY NO. Learning to say no is a skill, but it will help prevent burnout and simmering resentment. Aim to be less accessible and malleable, and more firm. Also, lower those standards and accept a certain level of messiness in the home. You never know, it might motivate others in the home to step up and a few eggs commented that this was the motivation their partner’s needed.

ESCAPE. You can’t look after others if you’re not looking after yourself, so take a break. Perhaps it’s reading a book with a glass of wine or cuppa for an hour, a spa break for the night, or maybe it’s a solo holiday for a few days. In fact, a solo trip was one of the best things many eggs have done: the extra sleep, to be with their own thoughts, even just to eat a meal in.

Outdoors

ONLINE GROCERY SHOP. Online grocery shopping was a top tip from many eggs, saving time and money whilst also ensuring you don’t waste money on duplicates. Book your slot in advance and simply add to it like a shopping list as the week goes on. The further in advance you book, the cheaper the delivery or click and collect slots are. Not sure what you need that far in advance? Put in a couple of bottles of wine to hit the minimum value, pay for it to ensure you don’t lose your slot then simply amend the booking later on. Easy.

MEAL PLAN, BATCH COOK & SLOW COOK. Create a meal planner the week ahead, ensuring your partner is aware of what’s on the menu (and can therefore cook too). Spend a Sunday morning or evening batch cooking so during the week’s meals can be simply reheated (top egg tip: follow the Batch Lady for recipe inspiration). If budgets permit, invest in a local company to batch cook for you – or make a Cook order for hand-prepared home cooked meals, frozen. Slow it down too! A popular recommendation amongst eggs was slow cooked meals. A slow cooker can be an investment, but affordable ones are readily available and often cheaper to run than a conventional oven. Social media is bursting with great recipes and @boredoflunch in IG was a top recommendation.

meal time image

MAXIMISE LITTLE MINUTES. The night before, lay out the clothes, make those packed lunches, tidy away the dishes and select what’s for dinner the following evening. Mornings will feel much calmer and have a huge impact on your day. Also, when it comes to tidying up and cleaning, set a timer on a room and stick to it. You’ll be surprised when you focus how quickly you can really tidy and then clean a room. Try 30 minutes for the kitchen, for example. Do this on a regular basis and the home won’t feel as overwhelming. Oh and ensure Mr Doesband does the same.

TAKE LITTLE MINUTES FOR YOURSELF. Little minutes of ‘me-time’ can make all the difference. Make that fresh coffee, go somewhere quiet and enjoy it. Sit outside and listen to the birds. Take a walk around the block. Light a candle and focus on your breathing. Or multi-talk - listen to a podcast or audio book whilst you’re doing chores. Why not try Fair Play by Eve Rodsky, a book on sharing the mental load to rebalance your relationship and transform your life.

me time image

And remember, having it all doesn’t mean doing it all. It’s time to slow down and cut ourselves some slack.

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