There were many articles published last year about the invisible “mental load” after French artist Emma brilliantly illustrated this phenomenon in a comic titled You Should Have Asked. The mental load refers to all the household management work that isn’t clearly visible, but requires maintaining an ongoing mental list of things that need to be done. It’s an immense amount of work, and it is almost exclusively carried by women.
Even though our division of childcare and chores looked pretty even on the surface, I was still responsible for the mental load. And while Mr. Bee would gladly help any time I asked him, the point of the cartoon was that I’d have to ask whereas I, the mom, would automatically assume the role.
Examples of the mental load I carry include:
- scheduling regular doctor/dentist/optometrist appointments for the entire family
- keeping up with vaccine schedules
- scheduling vet appointments and all animal care
- scheduling haircuts for the kids and cutting their nails
- keeping track of groceries and household items that need to be replaced and then purchasing it all
- meal planning and cooking
- buying clothes for the entire family
- buying birthday gifts, Halloween costumes, Christmas gifts for the kids
- planning birthday parties
- buying gifts for teachers, weddings, other children’s birthday parties, etc.
- staying on top of school forms
- planning all travel from booking tickets to packing for the whole family
- enrolling kids in summer camp and all extracurricular activities
- purging outgrown clothes and toys
- all laundry
- opening mail/paying all bills