11 October 2018

The Mental Load Of Motherhood

I read a quote the other day about modern mothers and how they are more overstretched than ever before and it really resonated with me. At the moment as a working mum of three I juggle many balls, wear several hats and often feel totally and utterly overwhelmed by my daily responsibilities. My head is full, overflowing with things to remember and to tick off lists. 

The mental load of motherhood

My days start early and I'm lucky if I sit down much before 9pm, in between then I feel like I'm tackling some kind of assault course, rushing around from one thing to the next, stretched so thinly, with hardly a moment to catch my breath. 

My day yesterday looked something like this:

  • 6am - 8am get up and get the girls breakfast and clothes for the day organised and on them
  • Unpack and re pack the dishwasher
  • Put a load of washing on
  • Make Lottie's packed lunch
  • Log on to the computer and change phoebe's school dinner because she's changed her mind about what we pre ordered
  • Plait the girls hair and make sure they look extra smart for school photographs
  • Help/ask the girls about 10 times to brush their teeth
  • Get in the shower and get myself ready for work
  • Grab some kind of breakfast for myself and eat it whilst drying my hair
  • Ask the girls 12 times to put their shoes on
  • Load coats and bags into the car
  • Get everyone out the door and in the car 
  • 8:15 drop the Ellie and Phoebe at breakfast club
  • 8:30 drop Lottie at play school
  • 8:44 get to my desk with a minute to spare
  • Work until 2:45
  • Get in the car and collect Lottie from playschool at 3pm
  • Go and collect Ellie and Phoebe from school at 3:15
  • Get home at 3:30
  • Unload the car
  • Feed hungry children after school snacks
  • Tidy away the breakfast things that are still on the table from this morning
  • Unload the washing machine into the tumble drier
  • Put another load of washing on
  • Start the tea
  • Break up various disagreements between the girls
  • Help the girls with various things
  • Comfort tired children 
  • Help the girls with their homework and listen to them read
  • 5pm serve tea
  • Tidy up tea
  • 6pm run the bath
  • Bath the girls whilst meal planning for the week and doing the online food shop 
  • Put the girls in their pjs and dry their hair
  • 6.45 bedtime stories
  • 7pm snuggle/wrangle the girls into bed
  • Go downstairs to tidy up and sort out dried washing
  • Pay various invoices for childcare
  • Respond to party invitations
  • Order birthday presents for birthday parties
  • Reply to messages and emails
  • Get the girls school bags ready for the next day including fresh water bottles and forest school kit
  • Cook dinner for Oli and I 
  • 8.30 ish eat mine
  • Realise its 9pm and decide that I'm too tired to stay up
  • Take my makeup off 
  • Hop into bed
  • Read a few pages of my book until I hear Oli home safely
  • Fall asleep in seconds waking up sporadically thinking of what I need to do the next day...
I get that it's pretty normal, ordinary, stuff and that lots of people are doing this every day but that doesn't mean that day after day it doesn't feel overwhelming, or invisible for that matter. There are so many things that I do for the family that I don't think anyone is even aware I do, invisible but vital tasks that hold everything together. 

This mental load is totally and utterly exhausting and a full time job in itself, throw working part time four days into that as well and I'm done. I make lists, I try and squeeze in some self care when I can but most of the time I'm just getting through the day. No matter how organised I try to be with lists and notes and letters all over the fridge and in my diary I still forget stuff and drop balls which makes me feel like a bit of a failure. I only have to have a quick scroll on social media to feel that amongst all this I'm meant to have a beautiful home, do enriching things with my children, keep healthy, look stylish...etc all while having my shit together. I find myself wondering how everyone else does it all to be honest - while I run around like a headless chicken and miss the days a bit where I only had to think about me. 

Oli is out the house working so hard 60 hours a week so it naturally falls to me to take on the bulk of the home stuff and manage logistics when it comes to the children. I know I need to be better at asking for help from people around me but I don't always really know what help I need and then it gets to a point where I crash and the smallest little thing will be the straw to break the camels back.  It often happens after a rather awful stretch on Oli's shift pattern and solo parenting weekends where I then feel like I've been doing everything on my own for more than usual without so much as a minute to myself. Stopping is often what I need to do at this point, be alone, clear my head, try and lighten the load where I can and start afresh.  

Thankfully a long run of long days out the house for Oli often means the opposite of that usually follows where he's home more and we can share the load. I don't know what the answer is to be honest other than to accept that this is how this stage of life is, relax at every given opportunity and know that actually we're really very lucky and that compared to many our 'problems' really aren't problems.  I know I'm doing my best, so I know I need stop being so bloody hard on myself and just let stuff go. One day I might just figure out how to do that.... That, or hire a live in maid, chef and PA... but if I gave them the job description of my average day above I wonder what their salary expectations might be!

Me x

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