How to Reduce the Mental Load of Motherhood

Still feeling that post-NYE ”glow”? Yea, mine stems from playing board games until 2:30am with our friends (and having 3 kids who stayed up ‘til 11pm but still rised as per usual). I was going to publish this post yesterday on New Year’s Day, but put it off until today… so you could say my 2019 is off to a productive and promising start :) Now that the holidays are over it seems like a good time to kick back and relax – and to celebrate finally sending that Elf back to where it came from.

But in fact, with the New Year in full swing, it can be easy to fall into the busyness of the daily grind. As reality sets in – back to school, work, home life, kids – so does the anxiety and exhaustion that often comes with motherhood and parenting.

So how do we reduce the mental load of motherhood (and adulthood, for that matter)?

4 Ways to Reduce the Mental Load of Motherhood

Date yourself. You ever see that Facebook meme: When women say they are “running errands” they are actually at Homegoods or T.J.Maxx sniffing candles and touching soft blankets? Guilty! It took a few years of being a mother before I started making a conscious effort to prioritize myself and doing things on my own. Go ahead! Spend your weekend running errands, sans family, and enjoy a leisurely detour down the candle aisle or to a Starbucks drive-through. It’s the little things you do for yourself that add up over time and make you a happier mom and individual. Another thing I’m working on in 2019 is setting a standing monthly MNO or a simple late night coffee date.

Uni-task instead of multi-task. Forget multi-tasking. I’ve come to realize it’s horrid for your mental health (and quite possibly your relationships). When you constantly prioritize the things you think you NEED to get done, i.e. around the house or working from home, it affects your family time, your ability to be mentally present and mindful, and also your availability in supporting your partner with childcare. (#talkingtotheHusb) Instead, try setting just one or two goals for the day and focus on getting those things done. That’s IT. For example, today is “sort and organize the kids’ art supplies” and tomorrow will be “package up returns and drop off at post office”. If your expectations for the day’s agenda are reasonable and not too overwhelming, you won’t be setting yourself up for failure, and you’ll be able to focus on being a more present mother/partner/individual.

Pursue minimalism. Though this was something I tried to adopt in 2018, I want to more consciously push forward with this mentality this year. Last year, it felt good to schedule 2 donation pickups, and this year I’d like to step it up to 3-4 times. Fewer toys = less time to clean up. Fewer clothes = less laundry. See how this works to help reduce the mental load of motherhood? It’s not that I’m a neat freak (I’m pretty much the exact opposite), but by systematically decluttering and purging, you allow yourself and your family the space to breathe and to create. Does it add value to your life? Does it encourage constructive or imaginary play? Does it bring you joy? Once you decide what serves a purpose in your household and what to keep, give everything a place in your home – and make sure your kids know where everything belongs so they can help with clean up. (But first, get yourself a label maker. Life. Changing.)

Schedule out your monthly family-fun priorities. Aside from a daily calendar for appointments and commitments, having a family “fun” calendar can help reduce the mental load of motherhood because it gives you a general plan of keeping your kids entertained throughout the month. It helps get everyone on the same page as far as expectations and also keeps you motivated to get out and do things. For example, you can make a monthly calendar with recurring weekend events, such as:

- Friday after school – playdate with neighborhood friend; family movie + popcorn night
- Saturday mornings – pancake making with Dad
- Sunday evening – board game night

Or you might consider creating general themes that you can fill in as you go, such as:

- eat/cook something new (from another country, a new color, from a farm, etc)
- go on a new adventure
- read a new book

I hope these tips help you reduce your mental load so that you can do more than just “survive” motherhood, but enjoy it and live more intentionally.