When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.
School just started here in Flower Mound, Texas and it sure has been chaotic! It’s all online right now (thankfully so since our COVID-19 numbers are still high here). But, boy have there been a lot of bumps in the road this week, from last minute incorrect schedules to technology glitches and dropped video calls. All of this from home, while I’m also working/seeing my counseling clients virtually. It has certainly been a lot for all of us to navigate- educators, students and parents alike!
I realized at the end of this week that I was absolutely exhausted mentally, as this has all been a lot to carry. This is when my thoughts turned to the mental load of motherhood.
What is the mental load of motherhood (sometimes referred to as “mommy brain”)? All the thought/items you’re carrying and processing in your mind, not just for you, but for your children as well.
So, what kinds of things are bring carried in our mom brains?
- Schedules for all family members- school, appointments (including the doctor, dentist, etc.), meetings, play dates, events, etc.
- Every day household responsibilities- including cooking, cleaning, organizing, maintenance, decorating, shopping, etc.
- Physical well being of the household- exercise, water intake, healthy meals, vitamins, medication, etc.
- Emotional well being of the household- is everyone getting along? What does this child’s behavior mean? I’m worried about this kid because they aren’t acting like their normal self.
- Mental well being of the household- are they learning what they should be learning? Are they being challenged mentally? Are they spending too much time on their electronic devices?
- Spiritual well being of the household- Are they getting their spiritual needs met?
That’s a lot of mental energy being expended here, without adding in your “stuff” (work, health, connection to others, etc.), as well as your partners “stuff” (Are they doing okay? Do they need more from me?), and anyone outside of the family who may also be on your mind. It’s a lot to carry and a lot of process all on your own.
So, how can you alleviate some of the mental load of motherhood?
- Acknowledge how much you really are carrying mentally.
- Ask your partner for support.
- Set clear mental boundaries around what you are and are not able to take on.
- Discuss this issue with your close mom friends for some much needed normalizing and validation from them.
- As your kids get older and are more mature, allow them to take over areas in their lives that pertain to them such as their school responsibilities.
- Process how you’re feeling in therapy with a trained therapist.
- Prioritize self-care- meditation, journaling, exercise, mindfulness practices, healthy eating, etc. can all be helpful.
- Write it down- get it out of your head and on paper or in your calendar.
- Have some fun- play with your kids, be silly, create new things together, etc.
The mental load of motherhood can be so very draining and taxing for all of us at times. Take notice of what’s going on situationally around you, so you won’t be blindsided by these external factors. Big transitions like moving and the start of school can be especially stressful for our “mom brains” as well. Plus, taking care of yourself mentally can help you become a better version of you!