What would happen if women dropped the invisible load of mom-ing? Say, we stopped stocking the house with toilet paper? No longer planned out the family calendar? Stopped sending the lunch money or packing the lunchboxes?
I can tell you what would happen in my house. There would be a lot of nasty bums, missed appointments and near chaos.
So, this has me thinking…who gave me the toilet paper patrol job? Who made me the grocery & Amazon list writer? Family organizer? The official keeper of the things?
Sitting with these questions, I came to two answers. First, of course, are cultural expectations. The second is actually me, myself, for accepting them without question.
I’m extremely grateful to have a partner who tries to help with chores, parenting, food, wiping noses and everything else that makes Team Weisman succeed. But in the past, it’s often felt like those tasks rested on my shoulders. Why is that?
Culturally, we make hundreds of assumptions about women. When I went through my first job transition, many of my patients (and co-workers for that matter) said, “I understand you want to spend more time at home with your family.” It’s funny because I never stated that my leaving was to be a stay at home mom (SAHM)?!? Why did they assume my choice was based on the workload at home rather than the environment at that office? I realize now that it must be because of their thoughts around what working moms do, or should do. And that says more about them than about me.
The invisible load that women carry isn’t just about who puts the dishes away or picks up the kids from school. It’s about the mental space we allow to be taken up by worrying about what needs to happen and how to get it done, all while coordinating 5 separate human lives.
So how do we offload this weight? There are 2 realizations that have helped me shake off these crazy expectations: 1) Not everything is extremely important 2) Not all the important things have to be done by me!
Let me share a recent conversation I had with my 8 year old…I explained that he should tell me when a classroom party, field trip, sports game, friend’s birthday party or 4-H meeting feel important to him and when he would like me to come.
“Otherwise, buddy, I’ll just pick what I can make or not make it to. I would really like to experience your important things with you but you have to tell me ahead of time, if possible, ok?”
This has really helped my kids decide what’s most important to them and to communicate their wants and needs. After all their parents are humans, too, and there’s only 24 hours in a day! It feels like a big family win when we can prioritize what our kids communicate, and it’s a huge guilt weight off me when I miss “the best things ever, mom”!
Learning that not everything needs to be high priority has helped me and my family choose balance.
To the second point, outsourcing has been a huge step in decreasing the weight of the workload. Delegation, people! By empowering my family (husband, children and immediate family) to work together and share the work, it all gets done. Finding and hiring help (ie cleaners, personal shoppers, childcare helpers, assistants, etc) is also a surefire way to unburden the load because IT’S NOT ALL MINE TO CARRY.
So to my fellow working moms out there: Don’t let your superpowers become your enemies! You’re amazing at recognizing, anticipating and reacting but that doesn’t mean you must take all the responsibility yourself! Share the work and communicate with your loved ones. Give back some of the weight by asking your family, “Is this urgent? If so, who can help us?” Or, “Is this important to you?” If not, move on. If so, “How can we work together?”
Just a little mom sass to help you out!