So this week I have been feeling a bit discombobulated. I never use long words but that is a good word so I am using it 😀 Don't know if it's the change in weather/season or having the lurgy but I'm just feeling a bit out of sorts. It seems I am not alone. The fabulous Erica Davies wrote about her anxiety this week, comparing herself to others and questioning her instagram mojo.
And then I saw this on Instagram (via @thecovengirlgang) and it got me thinking.....
I used to do an online grocery shop and plan all our weekly meals. This was just something I did and I *think* it saved us money and head space time in the week as we knew what we were eating and when.
But during the crazy Stamptastic summer the online shop goes out the window and the kids are lucky if there is a mouldy crust in the bread bin. All planning and parenting in general goes out the window. Luckily the kids are older now and able to fend more for themselves but that doesn't mean I don't get bad Trip Advisor reviews 😂 and feel guilty for my poor parenting.
Earlier this week I finally managed to get that first online shop of the (academic/Stamptastic) year in and I must admit it felt GOOD. Yeh Baby! I felt on top of the world in the parenting stakes 🏆
However, on Wednesday I got the lurgy and it's got worse and now I have a load of food in the fridge (yes I know, I'm very lucky to have a fridge full of food) and all my enthusiasm to cook it for my adoring fans (read that as ungrateful family) has disappeared.
Plus I'm feeling guilty that I haven't been able to go to the gym and eat healthily this week. And I still haven't sent those emails to our supplier.....
So is it possible to have it all? To succeed at everything? I threw that question out to the virtual floor on our instagram stories and this is what some of our followers had to say...
So whilst the Cruella DeVille meme is funny there is actually a really serious mental health issue associated with trying to do it all. We beat ourselves up if we can't do everything. The anxiety and stress can be overwhelming. But it was this last comment that really got me thinking (I have been doing a lot of thinking this week).
Yes! It's the mental weight of planning everything, the logistics, actually getting my head into gear about when to sit down and do the Tesco shop, when to get it delivered, what to order, how can I fit in making lasagne when I have to be in 83 different places at once.....? What forms haven't I completed for my daughters DofE and how/when can I book in physio for my son? Insurance claims, Christmas admin, the list goes on and on....
Have you heard about 'The Mental Load'? I stumbled across this phrase last week.
I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post in a parenting group that resonated with so many women. A mum posted about her husband not contributing to the household chores despite the fact that they both worked. She had tried not asking for help but that just made her resentful and angry. She tried getting upset with him but he blamed her for not asking him to help. She tried asking him but he either put it off or helps reluctantly.
Why was this woman having to do it all? Because The Mental Load falls on her.
This article "The gender wars of household chores: a feminist comic" is bloody brilliant at explaining The Mental Load. In a nutshell, society has created a situation where (in general) we see mothers in charge of household management whilst our fathers only execute the instructions. Now, back in the day, when the majority of women were housewives and men went out to work I get how this was probably OK. But nowadays, us women work! But still The Mental Load falls to us.
"And once we're back at work, things will get so hellish that it will feel less exhausting to keep doing everything rather than to battle with our partner so that he does his share"
So how do we split The Mental Load, try and regain some balance in our lives and not feel shit when we aren't suceeding at ABSOLUTELY. BLOODY. EVERYTHING?
In her brilliantly observant illustrations the cartoonist Emma highlights how things need to change.
There are amazing women and men out there who are flipping society norms. Check out the wonderful Clemmie Telford and her husband Ben Telford. Ben has recently taken shared parental leave to to enable Clemmie to focus on her career. It's so interesting to see the change in dynamics in their family but I was surprised and disappointed to hear some of the comments that Ben received when he announced he was spending more time with his family. I belive one colleague even suggested that he saw a psychiatrist!!
Also check out the wonderful Jodine Boothby aka GummeeMummee mastermind of the Gummee Glove teething mitten brand. Jodine and her husband Steve run the company together but recently Steve has taken on all of the housework to enable Jodine to focus on running the business. Steve has taken to his new role with gusto and was even hoovering and polishing the slats of their bed frame. I didn't even know that was a thing.
Then you have wonder woman that is Anna Whitehouse aka MotherPukka who through her campaign #FlexAppeal is changing attitudes towards flexible working. Despite the fact that since 2014 we have been able to request flexible working, very few of us do and as Matt Farquharson says in his article "The trouble is that most who make the request are treated like toddlers demanding marzipan at bedtime."
So I guess the tide is turning. Slowly. I'm going to try and stop beating myself up about things I haven't done and focus on the things I have achieved. Keeping my children alive, running a business and paying that parking ticket I got last week.
What are you going to do to reduce The Mental Load?