One of the challenges that comes with parenting is the increased domestic load. Whether we like it or not, the cooking, laundry and school/day care running around have to be done – and having kids means there is more of it! Sharing these tasks isn’t all about who actually does them; equally important is the mental load that comes with them. Someone needs to remember when the school photos are scheduled, which days are pupil free and to pick up the toilet rolls.
French artist Emma’s comic, You should have asked, about the mental load, went viral after it was released in May 2016 and still does the rounds on social media. The comic takes a brutally honest look at the mental load, suggesting that women shouldn’t be solely responsible for organising the household and, perhaps more importantly, that they shouldn’t have to ask their partners to help.
Rather than risking the whole episode becoming a husband/partner bashing exercise, we thought we would talk to an expert about the reality of the mental load.
Katrina Alilovic is a psychologist who works with couples and individuals to help develop understanding, solve problems and make changes in order to resolve everyday life challenges. It is her hope that through therapy, people not only deal with their immediate concerns but that the experience offers them ways to live more compassionately and creatively. With over 25 years of experience with couples and individuals across Australia and the UK, and with a husband and daughters of her own, she is well qualified.
Katrina shares practical suggestions for steps we can take to share the load more evenly, or to better understand our own feelings around the division of household chores, including:
- Communicate and manage expectations, including being specific about what we want;
- Take responsibility for “what’s ours”, in other words, frustrations with the way our partner folds towels may actually be our issue, not theirs;
- Understand our own “sphere of influence” – the things we can control – and then look at what we can do about them; and
- Try to focus on intentions and think the best of your partner.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the mental load and how household chores are divided in your family. Come and join the conversation with us in The Juggle Community.