Sharing the mental load

Sharing the mental load

The concept of mental load was popularised recently by french comic, Emma. Emma, accurately depicts the multiple things we do as parents whilst doing something as simple as inviting a friend over for dinner. Whilst preparing a meal for your friend, you are also ensuring the kids are eating. When they are not, you are encouraging them to eat and in between trying to have a conversation with your friend. Meanwhile, the food boils over and you are now cleaning that up. You get the picture… That’s just ONE dinner. Then add to that the mental load associated with one child: nurturing their hopes and dreams, ensuring they are polite, that they wash their hands, they have a balance of activities and the food they like to eat. Drop off and pick up arrangements from day-care, school and activities. Quality time with grandparents, self-esteem, blossoming friendships, dealing with the kid with mean behaviour in the playground. The list goes on. The mental load increases for more children with differing needs. Contrary to popular belief, it is not only mums that feel the burden of the mental load it is dads too. It is the main carer who often bears the brunt. But what happens when both parents work and both parents are the main carers? Whilst in most families, both parents are working, women are still doing the lion’s share of the work. Census data clearly shows Australian women spend, on average, 5 to 14 hours per week in unpaid domestic work, whereas men spend less than 5 hours a week. Women also spend an additional hour a day looking...
Work-life balance for dads

Work-life balance for dads

The conversation for women managing life and work is still more prevalent than men in today’s society but men’s concerns about their lack of balance are increasing. The research backs this up The National Study of the Changing Workforce found that between 1977 and 2008, the percentage of mothers in dual-earner couples who reported work-family conflict grew from 41% to 47%, while the percentage of fathers reporting it grew from 25% to 60%. The biggest challenge for both men and women in juggling daily demands is feeling torn between responsibilities at work and at home. Frequently we hear about women who are asked about family in job and media interviews, when men are rarely being asked. Whilst this is frustrating, it’s interesting to step back and understand why this bias still exists and how men can help shift it. My husband is a leader who strives to blend work and life. Growing up his dad, an extremely successful building entrepreneur, worked long hours and my husband felt like he missed out on valuable time with him. As a result, he made a vow that if he had children, he would prioritise them and make time for them no matter what. In every position he has held since our children were born he has given himself permission to craft maximum flexibility. And he has. He very much adopts the work-life blend, not balance philosophy and finds himself leading a successful team at work and being a hands-on, fun and treasured dad (and husband!) at home. How can men create more balance? Understanding archetypes can help us. An archetype is simply...
Parent Guilt

Parent Guilt

There’s really only one thing worse than parent guilt…. That is feeling guilty about the guilt. Let me explain. You love your child. You are doing the best you can. In any given moment, you are juggling the multiple small and big tasks we take on as parents because that’s what we signed up for when we embarked on this role. The challenge arises when you don’t feel like there is a choice in what you are doing. Maybe the choice you make to add on an extra day of after-school care leaves you feeling guilty. Perhaps it’s missing a parent-teacher event because you are away for work.  It’s OK to feel guilty. It’s letting you know that there’s a values conflict – two things that are important to you are colliding. It’s when that guilt feeling spirals and you tell yourself you shouldn’t feel guilty or worse still, you turn it into a guilt trip, which intensifies the feeling – that’s when your decision-making is affected and you need to interject. Your mind is incredible and it will help you create lots of stories that may or may not be useful. Matthew Lieberman, a neuroscientist has found an inverse relationship between the activation of amygdala (emotions) and the prefrontal cortex (decision-making). When the amygdala is active with blood and oxygen, there is less activation in the prefrontal cortex. Our thinking power is disrupted and there are deficits in our problem solving, because the blood and oxygen are in the amygdala versus the prefrontal cortex. Any strong emotion, fear, stress, guilt, anxiety, anger, joy, or betrayal trips off the amygdala and impairs the prefrontal...
Work-life blend…not balance

Work-life blend…not balance

The conversation around work-life balance needs to change from balancing to blending if we are going to sustainably increase the quality of our daily lives. An American Sociological Review study found that seven out of ten US workers struggle with work-life balance. And it is a struggle. The term work-life balance implies there is a holy grail way to live life and work in specified portions that will output a good quality of life. Whilst traditionally we looked at time spent at work versus outside of work. High performers are working in a different way. Today I woke up and did a routine of my five minute journal, exercise, shower and got dressed. I made breakfast for myself and children and we all got ready to visit a high school for my eldest child. After the tour, I dropped both children off at school and went to work. At work I had emails to respond to, a presentation to write and a brochure to complete, whilst organising myself for a dinner party we are hosting day after tomorrow. After picking up children, having dinner with the family (dishes are still in the sink) and finishing up with some bedtime cuddles with our boys, I’m now back on my computer writing this article and finishing off a few emails before I cuddle up with my husband and go to bed. There was no “this is work time” and “this is family time” – it was a blend. Work-life blend is like making a smoothie with different ingredients depending on what you have in the fridge that day. Some days you have more banana,...
Time is precious…

Time is precious…

Today I learnt about a friend who lost her daughter in a tragic accident. Recently, it was a family friend who suddenly lost her life at the age of 34. Both of these events were in quick succession to losing my cousin who was 36, in the months prior. These deaths have hit me hard. I’m devastated for the loss to each of their families and what has become so real is, there are three more sets of parents who have lost their child. As I watch a movie with my children tonight, I will hold them just that little bit tighter. It’s a sobering thought, none of us really know when moments will be our last.. Time is precious… Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. ~Wayne Dyer My commitment to myself is to not wait for tragedy or illness or pain to help me wake up and chase my dreams or do the things that matter. My commitment is to say all the important things to the people that matter and make as many moments matter as I can. Have you been waiting to say or do something and now doesn’t seem the right time? What’s a small step you can take in the direction you want? Time is...