Years ago, when my husband and I were expecting our first child (who is now a high school freshman), we decided that I would be the primary parent.
Let me be clear: there was absolutely nothing pejorative about this term.
We were living abroad, and I didn’t have a work permit. I also really wanted to nurse my baby and be his primary caregiver. At the time, it was a lovely life, and our family of three was quite content.
Fast forward to 2018. We now have three kids: one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. Both my husband and I own our own businesses. I am still the primary parent.
It’s a familiar tale, right?
Studies show that women do three times the housework that men do. That’s a visible inequity of labor.
This set up is known as “The Second Shift” , a nod to the fact that even though women are in the paid workforce at higher-than-ever rates, the bulk of childcare and domestic duties are still theirs.
But that’s not all…
There are also all of the less visible tasks that also usually fall to women.
Birthday parties. Registration dates for piano lessons and ice skating classes. Dentist appointments. Annual well checks. PTA lunches for teachers. Which friend is currently persona non grata.
Once we understand the mental load that women carry, it’s much easier to understand how exhausting it all can be.
Let’s face it: we all have a certain amount of bandwidth. And if my bandwidth is being taken up by the minutiae of logistics for three other people—plus family functions—that’s a lot of bandwidth!
Many husbands are certainly participatory in kids’ lives in a way that men weren’t a generation ago. Both dads and kids benefit from the active fatherly presence in the kids’ lives.
But for women who are juggling work, raising children, aging parents, and managing the symptoms of perimenopause, the mental load can be crushing.
It is futile to try to address the stress that exacerbates the unpleasant symptoms of menopause without acknowledging the mental load. When we learn strategies to decrease the mental load, we can begin to develop systems of meaningful self-care. One such strategy is educating ourselves about the realities of perimenopause and the role stress plays in how we weather the storm.
Survive & THRIVE Perimenopause is a six-week ecourse that includes educational information about the physiology of hormones and bodily changes that happen between ages 40 and 55. Furthermore, we take a deep dive into the psychology of why women feel the burden of the mental load at this time. Finally, Survive & THRIVE Perimenopause offers you the opportunity to create a road map to a happier, healthier, more balanced life.