ALWAYS HAVING TO REMEMBER
Feminists call the mental load “always having to remember”. The term refers to women having the double responsibility of not only having a career but also running the household. It can feel as if we are responsible for everything, both at home and at work. For example, remembering to order the online shopping, taking money out to pay the cleaner, booking parents evening slots or making sure the children have clean clothes to wear.
For women spending a large amount of time at home on maternity leave, it becomes natural for her to take on these tasks as she is the one at home and probably doing the majority of the cooking/cleaning/washing. However, once she returns to work, these tasks still need to be done and more often then not, the responsibility of doing them lands on her shoulders. This can lead to feelings of exhaustion and resentment as she tries to take on responsibility for everything.
One of the key arguments behind changing this is for men to see that running the household is a shared responsibility, and a good starting point is the opportunity to spend some time at home with the baby in the first few weeks and months. If there is the option to take shared parental leave, this provides the peace of mind for the mother as she returns to work knowing that her partner is not only taking care of the baby, but things at home and experiencing the reality of running the household.
It can also help to start thinking and talking early on in your pregnancy or maternity leave about how you might divide up recurring and frequent tasks in the house once you are both back at work. That might mean becoming a little more tolerant of the house not being quite as neat and tidy as you would ideally like, and letting go to some extent, of order and control. If you decide to employ a nanny then much of this is taken care of, but not all of it.
Introducing a new baby means that the way you run your lives will need to change. Like any change, planning and preparation can help to ease the experience of adapting and adjusting to a new way of being.