The Mental Load
What is “the mental load of motherhood”?
The mental load refers to the disproportionate cognitive labor women exert over the management of their household in higher proportion to their male partners (due to cisgender norms).
According to one study published in the American Sociological Review: “Cognitive labor entails anticipating needs, identifying options for filling them, making decisions, and monitoring progress”.
Ask a Mom and she can immediately relate. Working moms incorporate this invisible work as another task to be managed and merge it with our professional “to-dos”. Scheduling doctors’ appointments, music lessons, sending a family birthday card, all get slotted into our day. We applaud ourselves on our multi-tasking but also can feel resentment toward our partners and families for not seeing or helping. We worry about everything and how to fit it all in. We push our own goals back, or worse don’t make any, as the needs of family remain paramount and under our sole domain.
Also invisible and unpaid is what is sometimes called the “second shift” where on average women spend about FOUR HOURS PER DAY on this unpaid work, like laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning, compared with about 2.5 hours for men, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
So if we know this is true… let’s change it together!