When it comes to household responsibilities, women perform far more cognitive and emotional labour than men.
Understanding why could help explain why gender equality has not only stalled, but is going backwards, despite being more discussed than ever. And a broader understanding of this behind-the-scenes labour could help couples redistribute the work more equally – something that, while initially difficult, could play a significant role in helping mothers lighten their load.
Experts say that this hidden work comes in three overlapping categories:
There are four clear stages of mental work related to household responsibilities:
Mothers did more in all four stages, her research showed; while parents often made decisions together, mothers did more of the anticipation, planning and research.
In other words, fathers were informed when it came to decisions, but mothers put in the legwork around them.
The fact that mothers end up assuming this mental load has consequences:
Perhaps the best way for women to reduce the mental load is to do less. If the mother stops thinking about what needs to be done and the father does not anticipate these needs, it may initially cause stress or judgement – but that could allow learning for next time.
Over time, doing less could increase our partner’s involvement and, in turn, free up more of our mental energy to focus on ourselves. At first, we might get judged for it, but it could lead to greater happiness later on. We all learn from doing, after all.
❤️ Brainstash Inc.