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The Mental Load & Emotional Labor

Parenthood is considered to be a partnership more than ever before; however, women continue to be the primary provider of parenting duties, household duties, and planning, organizing, and reminding for all of the things for all of the family members.


You may have first heard of The Mental Load in this comic created by French cartoonist, Emma. The Mental Load refers to the invisible, non-tangible tasks involved in running a household and family. Men have come a long way in fairly dividing tangible duties, like changing diapers, cooking dinner, cleaning the bathrooms, and attending playdates; however, women often still have to remind their partner to do these tasks, make to-do lists for them, create a chore chart, etc., which is work in and of itself!


Emotional Labor, on the other hand, is when you are required to regulate your emotions in the workplace or social situations to put others at ease. For example, having to present cheerfully and make small talk even if you just lost a family member, endured a breakup, or received a troubling medical diagnosis. Teachers are another excellent example, especially during these times. They are expected to remain calm and friendly at all times, even as parents berate them or accuse them of neglecting their child.


It is a gendered expectation that women are all natural, empathetic caregivers, and it's time to start discussing the mental load and emotional labor constructs with your boyfriends/husbands/partners. In order for a truly balanced division of labor to exist, these factors must be taken into account in addition to the tangible childcare and household chores.


Below you will find a comprehensive list of "invisible" tasks to discuss with your partner. Take some time during this holiday week to review them and try to set a more equal division of labor.


Chores/Errands

Washing and switching out towels

Keeping counters clear

General tidying up

Managing incoming mail

Trash and recycling

Washing laundry

Putting away laundry

Making beds

Cleaning refrigerator

Straightening kitchen cabinets/drawers

Yard and garden work

Straightening/rearranging closets

Loading and running dishwasher

Unloading dishwasher

Scheduling haircuts

Scheduling beauty maintenance

Cleaning bath mats

Washing bedding

Changing sheets

Washing blankets

Washing dog bedding

Keeping cats's area swept and mopped

Changing out toothbrushes

Washing shower curtains

Washing other household curtains

Decluttering/Discarding

Scheduling annual family photos

Trips to Good Will


Meals

Weekly menu planning

Grocery shopping

Cooking dinner

Setting the table

Clearing the table

Kids' meals and lunches

Organize fridge

Organize pantry


Child & Pet Care

Child 1's baths

Child 2's baths

Child 1 discipline

Child 2 discipline

Child 1 bedtime

Child 2 bedtime

Dealing with sick kids

Handling a child crisis

Dealing with Child 1's emotions

Dealing with Child 2's emotions

Feed the Dogs

Feed Cats

Administer medications to dogs/cats

Schedule vet appointments

Take Dogs to vet

Take Cats to vet

Schedule grooming appointments

Take pets to groomer

Kids' haircuts

Age checking toys

Size checking kids' clothes

Clipping kids' nails


Socializing

Weekly check-in with Dad's parents

Weekly check-in with Mom's parents

Weekly check-in with Dad's siblings

Weekly check-in with Mom's siblings

Keeping in touch with extended family

Planning for holidays

Planning/arranging romantic dates

Planning quiet evenings at home

Planning/initiating sex

Planning/arranging dinner out

Planning/arranging family outings

Leading recreational outings

Initiating talks about the relationship

Planning get togethers with friends


Medical

Coordinating family's medical care

Coordinating annual physicals

Coordinating family's dental care

Coordinating family's eye care

Managing prescriptions/OTC meds

Notify school of appointments


Gifts/Occasions

Dad's birthday gifts

Mom's birthday gifts

Child 1's birthday gifts

Child 2's birthday gifts

Grandfather's birthday gifts

Grandmother's birthday gifts

Aunt's birthday gifts

Uncle's birthday gifts

Birthday cards for extended family

Wedding cards/gifts

Graduation cards/gifts

Sympathy cards

Writing and sending thank you notes

Preparing house for guests

Planning and preparing for parties

Dad's Christmas gifts

Mom's Christmas gifts

Child 1's Christmas gifts

Child 2's Christmas gifts

Maternal grandparents Christmas gifts

Paternal grandparents Christmas gifts

Gifts for kids' friends

Wrapping gifts

Father's day gifts - grandparents

Mother's day gifts - grandparents


School

School drop off

School pick up

Packing snack/water for school

Scheduling teacher conferences

Attending teacher conferences

Child 2's IEP meetings

Help with homework

Manage assignments

School communication

Classroom activities


Extracurricular Activities

Taking kids to special events

Taking kids to birthday parties

Taking Child 1 to dance

Taking Child 2 to speech

Planning/researching activities and summer camps

Enrolling kids in activities and summer camps

Scheduling play dates

Attending play dates


Home Maintenance

Window Washing

Changing light bulbs

Managing appliance repair

Managing home repairs

Managing remodeling

Buying furniture

Redecorating home

Buying new items for home

Buying new appliances

Decorating for holidays

Scheduling cleaning service

Present for cleaning service

Vent cleaning

Air filter replacement

Carpet cleaning

Rug cleaning

Cleaning gutters

Handyman stuff/scheduling

Cleaning drains

Caulking

Garage maintenance

Decluttering all storage

Furnace maintenance

Test smoke/gas detectors

Clean humidifiers

Changing batteries


Vehicle Maintenance

Filling up the gas tanks

Managing auto insurance

Managing car tags/registration

Oil changes

Changing wiper blades

Checking tire air pressure

Vacuuming cars

Cars through car wash

Tire rotations

Detailing

Cleaning out cars


Finances

Paying the bills

Creating a budget

Bank errands

Doing taxes

Financial planning

Major purchases (cars, etc.)

Managing investments

Managing retirement

Managing kids' college accounts


Travel

Choosing destination

Planning vacation activities

Booking hotel rooms

Buying tickets

Notifying kids' school of absences

Packing suitcases

Activities and snacks for adults

Activities and snacks for kids

Keep track of travel documents/emails





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