The mental load of motherhood
If you’re feeling the effects of the mental load of motherhood, you’re in the right place here.
I’ll share exactly how to handle it – and go one step further, too.
I’m known amongst my friends for embracing the chaos and overwhelm that comes with motherhood and turning it on its head!
I see the challenges of motherhood as one ample chance to step up and do my best, regardless of how overwhelmed or anxious I feel.
Cos’ my kids are watching! And they mean the world to me.
Are you keen to do the same?
So first, let’s start with the basics…
No one ever told me that motherhood comes with a bucket load of emotional labor.
I’m talking about the guilt after saying something you genuinely regret to your innocent child.
Or the immense pressure to be on top of everything, from household chores to the packed lunch, dinner, husband/partner relationship, baths, bedtimes, appointments etc.
And then there are the career worries.
And money being none existent.
If, like me, you’ve chosen to be a stay-at-home mum, then you may wonder if you’ve done the right thing? Career prospects are constantly chipping away at you, right?
Tick-tock. When is the right time to go back to work – if ever?
Here’s a soft tip for you.
This time while your children are young is so short compared to the decades you will spend working.
So enjoy it and don’t pressure yourself to work.
Spend time actually with your children every day while you can, instead of feeling the need to clean or tidy or do this and that.
Sure, the house needs looking after, but can it not wait ten minutes so you can build a train track and be with them while their little faces light up?
As the queen of your house, your responsibilities are immense. I know!
I don’t take them lightly either, and I’m my own worst critic – never doing enough and never feeling good enough despite how much I take on.
I’ll bet you’re similar!
But I’ve worked and worked on that negative belief for a long time now.
It’s an ongoing process that I keep coming back to – to reinforce the FACT that I am allowed to meet my needs, and I am enough.
As are you!
But it’s not just yourself, you’re looking after I know. It’s everyone else, isn’t it?
So it’s no wonder so many mums suffer from burnout.
To relieve the pressure you feel, you must first give yourself some pressure relief.
What I mean is – give yourself permission to not feel the way you do.
So much of the mental load is down to conditioning from ‘the way it’s always been done’ and expecting the mother to DO EVERYTHING.
This drives me f*cking mad!
We are living an era where human psychology is as advanced as ever, and yet we still continue to follow old age paths.
How about creating something new from scratch for a change?
To give you more understanding on this – have a good think about what household duties you can delegate to others?
Or what invisible labor you can offload?
Or how can you get some alone time every evening to do something you want to do, instead of what you feel you have to do?
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so you’ve got to put yourself first sometimes.
Can you plan well in advance and set up a solid routine for your family and yourself, which minimises the need to do mundane tasks, and gives time for exciting, life-enhancing things?
Motherhood was never meant to be a lonely experience – but that’s what it’s become for many women.
Multiple elders historically raised children (I love reading about the tribal stuff), and I believe this had favourable outcomes for the mother and the child.
Care of children
After studying immeasurable parenting books in the relatively short three years since I had a baby, I’ve come to a happy place.
I follow a basic system, which sees me connecting with my children before taking any other action.
Children need three things for their emotional well-being.
Those three things are attention, affection and acknowledgement. Pretty simple, I think.
So far, so good with this approach.
We have far fewer tantrums and far more cuddles, because I focus on those top 3 things.
In terms of the majority of the mental load of motherhood – maybe the fact that children need so much care and attention is the cause of suffering?
But here’s where I’ll throw a spanner in the works.
Coming back to the conditioning topic, perhaps, just perhaps, some of what you are doing is due to old ways?
Again, question yourself on the sheer volume of work you feel you have to do?
Does the house really need to be spotless?
Do you need to be doing aaaallllll the things you’re putting on yourself?
And yes, it’s GOOD to let them play independently – they don’t need you 24/7! Don’t feel guilty about this!
(Of course, this depends on the age of the child and their abilities, but if you’re in that mega early phase, remember it’s short-lived. You’ve got this!)
Whenever I feel overwhelmed and buckling by the mental load of motherhood, I stop. I pause. I breathe deeply.
Often I close my eyes and visualise my happiest place (mountains by a lake), And then I return to the little things.
I ask myself: What is the priority right now?
Usually, it’s mopping up my littlest one’s tears or giving a hug to my 3 year old after a fall in the garden.
Or soothing a squabble over both wanting to ride on the tractor toy.
I know for a fact that in years to come, I won’t remember the times when I felt angry at my toddler for drawing on the wall or chucking food off his plate.
I’ll remember the nuzzles and cuddles, their tiny fingers, their chests rising and falling as they feed at my breast.
And this is exactly what I focus on when I feel right in the deep end.
It gets me to a clear head in no time and reminds me of how important my role as their mother is.
There is such a thing!
I feel it when it’s been all day, every day for a long stint with the children without any other adult conversation.
I start to feel fuzzy-headed and dizzy like I need someone to shake me by the shoulders and say “C’mon Soph!”
This is where it’s essential to escape the house.
I tend to go to a toddler group at least twice a week with my boys, speak to the grandparents, and I force (!) my husband to sit down with me once the kids are in bed and have a face-to-face conversation.
As women, we commonly need to express ourselves and be heard, and motherhood can make this pretty hard.
The kids scream super loud let’s face it, and often we’re cut off mid-sentence by “Mummy, mummy, mummmmmmmmmy!!!”
So, try as hard as you can to engage yourself in an adult conversation at least once daily.
It serves as extra support for you and takes your mind off the household responsibilities and shopping lists for a moment or two.
This adult conversation helps bring you back to yourself and out of that fuzzy mom brain as quick as anything.
Mental load of parenting
The best advice I can give you is to do a brain dump on paper when it all gets too much.
Grab a plain pad and a pen and write down everything, a list of things from your to-do list, your worries and fears, your appointments – EVERYTHING.
Do this either first thing when you wake up or the last thing before bedtime. It will help you feel more in control and less chaotic within.
Many women struggle to be a mother, because it’s such an undervalued role in modern society. But think.
Indeed, caring for the future generation is the most crucial role ever. It really is!
Nothing is more important that the health and wellbeing of your own children.
When people ask me “What do I do?” I don’t shrink back.
I proudly state that I’m a stay-at-home mom. That looking after my kids is my prime role right now, and I indulge in it. I take it deadly seriously.
I see the invisible workload of motherhood as a form of beauty and art.
It’s exquisite when you notice all the little details in yourself and all that you do!
From getting them dressed to tying their laces to feeding them, cuddling them, playing with them, and teaching them.
And everything else in between too!
Mothers are the cogs of this planet. We need to appreciate ourselves much more and see our value. Our families see it in us, but we must work on seeing it ourselves!
Mental health issues
Sometimes the reality is that sleep deprivation, emotional labour, a lot of stress, household tasks, personal relationships, and maybe a part-time job all become too much, and our mental health suffers.
There is so much support and encouragement for mental health these days, from your primary caregiver/GP to online helplines and other things – there’s never a need to suffer alone.
Let me know if this post has helped you?
I’d love to hear from you anytime, so please pop a comment at the bottom of this blog post.
Journaling is a sure-fire way to a clearer mind.
And a clearer mind means a healthier body. Our mental health and physical health are intrinsically linked.
Discover the pure joy YU can create from within, when you start a journal practice.
Grab the Journaling for Wellbeing workbook and get started right away.