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The mental load of being a working mum

It’s 9.15pm and I’ve just logged off for the day.

Not from my freelance job - I’ve still got to send a couple of emails and schedule my social media posts for tomorrow.

But I’ve logged off from my job as a parent.

✅ I’ve made the girls their tea

✅ I’ve given them a bath

✅ I’ve messaged my friend to ask what her daughter would like for her birthday

✅ I’ve packed the girls’ bags for school and nursery tomorrow

✅ I’ve given my youngest some milk and rocked her to sleep

✅ I’ve played the ‘Would you rather’ game with my eldest and said goodnight

✅ I’ve tidied away the toys

✅ I’ve brought in the clean washing from the line outside

✅ I’ve made dinner

✅ I’ve eaten dinner

I’m done.

Then I get a notification on my phone. It’s from the mum of one of the boys in my daughter’s class to the parents’ WhatsApp group.

It reads: “Just a heads up, Ben has been sick this evening. There’s a nasty bug going round so hope your little ones don’t get it.”

Immediately I start to panic.

We’re going away for the weekend. We’re seeing family. What if she gets it? What if she’s sick in the car on the way there? What if her sister gets it? What if I get it?

This, my friends, is just a tiny peek into my head and the mental load I carry.

My mind is in constant overdrive and it never fully logs off.

Sound familiar?

What is a mental load?

A mental load is the invisible and often unacknowledged mental work that goes into planning, organising, remembering and anticipating everything that needs to be done in our personal and professional lives.

Even if you see us alone in a coffee shop, drinking our latte in peace, it’s likely we’re not truly alone. Our mental load will still be with us, weighing us down.

Here’s a tiny sample of my mental load at the moment:

  1. Remember that my eldest now has swimming at school on a Wednesday and her usual lesson on a Friday, so her swimming stuff needs to be clean and dry each time.

  2. Plan meals for the week.

  3. Book an online delivery slot for the grocery shop.

  4. Make a list of what we need and order groceries.

  5. RSVP to the birthday party my daughter was invited to, and organise the gift.

  6. Remember to put a wash on because my youngest is running low on socks. How does she get through so many?

  7. Respond to the emails I’ve left ‘unread’ in my email inbox.

  8. Reply to my LinkedIn messages.

  9. Do I need to put out the green bin or black bin this week? Check.

  10. Remember to chase my client for payment.

  11. Take the chicken out the freezer to defrost in time for dinner.

  12. Remember there's a Coronation picnic at my daughter’s school on Friday afternoon, so I need to get all my work done for the week before then.

I could go on, but you get the picture. It’s relentless.

As mums, there’s so much to think about – both in our working lives and home lives – and this constant multitasking and pressure can take its toll on our mental health and wellbeing.

It can leave us feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, guilty or resentful. It can also affect our relationships, productivity, creativity, and happiness.

Offloading the mental load

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I didn’t do the things on my list.

Would the world end? Probably not.

Would someone else do them? Probably not.

Would I feel as though I’d failed in my duties as a working mum? Absolutely.

Whether we prefer to do everything because we worry that someone else won’t do it to our standards, or we don’t want to burden someone else with a task, it’s important to remember that we’re only human and have limits.

Writing down your thoughts and the tasks you need to complete can be a good way to offload.

So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the thoughts in your head, write them down. This will help clear your head and make things a little lighter and less stressful.

Then, go through the list and see what you can delegate to other people. (This is something I’m trying to get better at).

By managing our mental load better, we can reduce our stress and improve our quality of life.

And if you had “write my newsletter” or “plan my social media content” on your list, I can help with that.

Get in touch and tick it off your to-do list ✅


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