Opinion: The mental load mums carry is exhausting

Opinion: The mental load mums carry is exhausting
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OPINION: Today's list was fairly easy to remember. 

Pack a Pippins uniform for my youngest (remember closed shoes because it's the outing to go fishing today), pack my daughter's change of clothes for pottery, pack after-school snacks, sign two forms for school, remember to package up the item I sold online to post later in the day, remind my six-year-old that her library book is due back today, pay the rates bill and give the dog his medicine for his ear infection.

All this had to be done before I left for work at 5:30am. 

I work an early shift so I can pick my children up from school and spend the afternoons with them - usually ferrying them around to their activities, or hanging out at the playground. 

The work/life balance thing is okay, I'm so grateful that I get to spend a big chunk of my day actively involved in my children's lives while also being able to do a job I love, but it's the mental load that exhausts me. 

It's something many people, women especially, experience and often begin to resent. The task of remembering all those little things that make the household tick seems to fall to one member of the family and, in my house, it's me.

My husband is an excellent parent; he participates in our children's lives and certainly does his fair share of household chores. Like me, he also works full-time. But, he wouldn't have a clue when our daughter's next allergy test is due or that his niece's birthday present needs to be bought and posted to make it to her in time for her birthday. 

In 2017, French cartoonist Emma published a cartoon explaining the mental load women carry. She explains there's nothing genetic or innate about women being more organised, but that societal norms of the mother running the household take effect, on men and women, from an early age.

The solution, she says, is if dads also insisted on their right to be with their family in the first few months of their child's life, if mums dropped the guilt of not managing every household task, and if we worked on changing societal norms by raising children in a more balanced household - one where remembering daily tasks is not seen as "women's work".

All great advice, and something to think about when my brain is not so fried.

Rhonwyn Newson is Newshub's features editor.

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