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The Mental Load of Mother’s Day

A lesson in letting go...

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Hands up who organised a present or (video) gathering with their mother-in-law for Mother’s Day? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you and your partner hadn’t swapped mothers for the day. You had, in fact, organised something for your own mother as well and Mother’s Day is just another day in which you shoulder most of your household’s mental load.

Did you know that Mother’s Day itself has a long and contested history of unintended consequences? Its self-proclaimed founder, Anna Jarvis, spent over ten years fighting to have Mother’s Day recognised as a holiday. After achieving this in 1914, she then spent the rest of her life fighting to keep the holiday as she had envisioned it.

She started lawsuits against companies profiting from Mother’s Day, wrote impassioned public statements against a football coach who organised celebrations of mothers and vetoed American stamp designs and posters which didn’t fit her ideals. She died broke in a sanatorium having invested all her energy and money in this obscure and ultimately unsuccessful cause.

Possibly what she should have done instead is accepted her agency and the limits of it. When truly sharing the mental load, you do have to give up control of half of it. You have to accept that he might buy servo flowers for his mother, even though she always buys you flowers from that boutique florist in Rosalie.

Sharing the mental load is about finding the things that you can give up caring about and each taking responsibility for the things that you can’t. Maybe your partner feels deeply about the organisation of the crockery drawer but can never keep track of which socks your daughter wore to daycare. Maybe you can’t live with clutter on the dining room table but couldn’t really care what the dog eats, so long as he’s not malnourished or chowing down the playdough again! (As happened to our dog who still has blue highlights in his bottom hair from the experience!)

And if you want to read more about Anna Jarvis’ cautionary tale of what can happen when you don’t know how to pick your battles, there’s an entire book.

If you just want 3 quick tips on how to actually reduce your mental load, download our free guide.

And above all, let yourself be off duty and enjoy the day!  Happy Mother’s Day!

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