How many times have you internally scolded your partner for not carrying the ‘thing’ up the stairs as he strolls past? How many times have you internally screamed when your partner asks “what’s for dinner?”
Raising children is the hardest team that you’ll ever be part of. It takes every ounce of patience and adaptability. It’s also the first time that as a couple, your lives suddenly become interdependent.
According to the 2017 Bright Horizons Modern Family Index, women in heterosexual relationships—even those who are their family’s breadwinners—are three times more likely than breadwinning men to carry the mental load and 52% of working mums are burnt out from the weight of it all.
Following these tips will help to open up new ways of communicating with your partner and offer a greater sharing of the mental load.
1. Set an intention for a conversation about sharing more of the mental load. Be clear on the outcome you want and how you want to have the conversation. Focus on “I” not “you”. Remember, you can’t control someone else’s reactions, feelings or actions so focus on what you need rather than projecting what you need them to do. For example “I need help with keeping on top of all the life and kids admin. Can we discuss how we can divide this or get help with some of it”
3. Together, write down all the household tasks that need to be done and thought about. Sort these into emotional, physical and financial tasks. Remember that some of these will be things you’re constantly thinking about, as well as actual tasks to complete.
4. Take time to review these together. Use these questions as a guide for your conversation
- What really are the priorities for you and your children – what can be taken off? Try not to be competitive with other parents
- What are each of your strengths?
- What do you enjoy doing? Celebrate each other and be appreciative of the things you both do
- Which ones work best according to each of your time commitments around work and the children?
- What can be automated? Subscriptions for loo roll / cleaning products; automating bills; programming all appointments, reminders in your calendar
- What can you outsource or share with other parents?
- Who will take responsibility for managing that?
- Who else could help you in your network?
5. Be realistic about how you’re going to make this stick. How will you know if this is working? Be adaptable and flexible. How regularly do you need to review this? How will you adjust and support each other when you need it?
Download a free worksheet to guide your mental load discussion, and try out a daily-stress reducing conversation to build a new habit of creating time every day to check in with each other.
This article was written by Rachel Childs. Rachel is a couples coach who helps working parents navigate their transition through parenthood. Book a free discovery call with her to find out more about coaching.
April 13, 2023