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The Mental Load | East Texas Moms Blog

How many of you are familiar with the concept of  “the mental load”? Please take a minute – or three – and review that link. Trust me. It’ll open in a new window and you can refer back to it as you go – but what I’m about to say won’t make quite as much sense if you don’t. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

“You should’ve asked…”

How many times have you started your typical pattern of dinner prepping or post-carpool car emptying or grocery unloading while your partner sat and watched TV or surfed the web or just wandered aimlessly around? Quickly your internal dialogue goes from irritated-to-angry-to-call-the-lawyer. Amiright? We’re all in this boat together, there’s no shame in admitting it.

So, you’re fuming because you shouldn’t have to ask for help, right? Partner person should see the one thousand things that need doing! Partner person isn’t a child! Partner person is another completely self-sufficient adult who should be able to recognize that {insert chore of choosing} needs doing and really should have been completed yesterday except that… you have to ask. My partner person says, “well, if you wanted help… you should’ve asked!”

If we take a step back, science has yet to come to a solid conclusion on whether or not men’s and women’s brains are all that different. While the jury is still out scientifically, history tells another story. It shows us that in committed relationships –  predominately – one person is carrying the mental load. You’ve heard your grandmother, mother, friend, dad and co-worker answer a question by saying, “oh… I don’t know Partner Person takes care of that…” And for the most part this is good, but too often – even in my own relationship – I find that the teeter totter often feels unbalanced and I’m left feeling overburdened and overcommitted and resentful. 

So, how do we go about re-calibrating this in our relationships and thus giving our children the tools and (hopefully) a better example to live by? Glad you asked. 

 

Lower your expectations without lowering your standards.

Just because Partner Person does things differently – doesn’t mean they are doing them incorrectly. Are the kids fed? Is the dog alive? Is the house still standing? GOAL ACHIEVED. You cannot micro-manage and be mentally refreshed. Stop! Stop! Stop! fussing about the way the kids are dressed. Just stop it. Your expectation of an Instagram worthy family walking through Target needs to go away (lowered expectations…) in lieu of keeping your (lowered) standard of all people need to be dressed when in public. Mostly. Toddlers get special privileges. 

 

Go to therapy.

We are here. And by we I mean me. *stands up* My name is Beth and I go to therapy. Is it pricey? Can be. Is it another thing on my to-do list? Sure. However, talking to an emotionally uninvolved neutral third party is critical in working through your expectations. Think about when you were a kid and your parents would suggest a solution to a problem you had. It sounded like the dumbest thing you had ever heard. But if your friend’s parents suggested it? GENIUS. therapy=same concept

 

Adopt the mantra that “too many chiefs and not enough indians” is a bad thing.

Someone has to be in charge. There has to be a master key, if you will. And while more than one person can hold a master key and the things-to-be-in-charge-of can be better distributed… too many bosses and well, everyone is confused about who’s doing what. You need a couple of chiefs and the rest indians. Also consider that… {prepare to have your mind blown}… YOU CAN HIRE CHIEFS. So, if you and Partner Person are at an impasse when it comes to being the chief of say… finances… hire someone. Even if it’s just until you get your rhythm down. There are great low cost options for all sorts of things. 

 

Lastly, give credit where credit is due.  So many patterns and ideas we have can be attributed to our past experiences. I’m not saying that it’s your in-laws fault but, it’s your in-laws fault. Kind of. Don’t assume that Partner Person is being lazy. Often times, Partner Person doesn’t even think about the details because… well, someone else did that for them when they were a kid. Take a step back or go for a walk and process why you do the things you do. Why you feel it’s mission critical that dining table be wiped down after every meal?…. It’s probably because someone asked you to once… 🙂

 

 

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