While we’re sure you’ve heard of workplace burnout, did you know that parental burnout from stress is just as common? We call it, “The Hidden Load” and women bear the biggest brunt. But why is that?
Having kids is one of the most fulfilling experiences in the world. It’s incredibly rewarding, tremendously satisfying, oh, and did we forget to mention, super stressful.
Studies show that despite the narrowing gender equality gaps, and the rise in women joining the workforce, women still pick up a disproportionately large portion of the household chores. Though this can include the cooking and cleaning, it can also include things like booking doctor’s appointments, scheduling play dates, planning birthday parties, keeping the finances in check, picking up groceries, bathing the baby, and playing psychologist and mediator to other family members.
The Hidden Load
This has been called many different names from the hidden load, to the silent burden, to invisible labor, but it all boils down to the same thing: Women are pushing themselves to maintain the home and putting in incredibly long work hours, without ever getting paid for it.
This extra work is essential to making sure family life runs smoothly and that all the members of the family are able to get to their commitments and be healthy and happy. However, the mental load of this unpaid, unrecognized labor is immense.
Not only do we have to do tons of extra work, but we also spend hours worrying about it while occupied with other tasks. It harms our health as we try to pull our weight at work and at home, leading to chronic health problems, autoimmune issues, and burnout.
Unfortunately, a lot of this work also goes unrecognized because while remembering to pick up chicken for dinner or watering the plants may not seem like a big deal, the small tasks add up.
They occupy our mind and our time and add stress to our already busy lives, wearing away at our patience and our livelihood. It’s no wonder the frazzled exhausted mom is a pop culture icon.
So how can you battle mommy burnout and live your best life for both you and your family?
- Schedule time for yourself: You do not come in last. Carve out some time for yourself each day, even if that means the kids watch 10 minutes extra of TV or the dishes get put off until later. Once you’ve put some time aside, don’t use that time to complete more tasks. Rest, breathe, walk, read a book, but enjoy that time. It will help you recharge.
- Delegate: It can be scary relinquishing control and letting your kids, coworkers, husband, or friends pick up some of the strain, especially when you’re worried they won’t do it the “right” way. If some things have to be done a certain way, teach them first. Don’t be afraid to let people do things their way; however, just because it’s different doesn’t make it wrong. Not to mention, practice makes perfect, right?
- Take the kids out of the house: If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery will help clear your mind and see the world with a new perspective. It doesn’t help just you either. Sometimes the kids are bored and need to get some of that pent-up energy out of their systems. A bit of exercise does wonders for their mood and helps them avoid tantrums and sleep better at night too. (It’s a win-win situation)
- Speak up: It may feel passive-aggressive or like you’re tooting your own horn, but sometimes your family doesn’t realize all the hard work you put in for them. You do it so flawlessly that they don’t notice the effort and sacrifice that you make. This is a fast track to burnout. Let people know what you do during the day and take them up on their offers to help.
Our mission is to help you feel healthier, happier and find more sustained balance in your life. Doing it all at once can be overwhelming, so start with just one of the tips above. Once you feel comfortable (give it a week), add another. Within a month you’ll be feeling more patient, more empowered, more hopeful and more like yourself again.
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