mental health in motherhood
In a world where women asked for equality years ago, how have we ended up doing so much more.
We work full time, raise children, buy food, prepare meals, clean and tidy the house, arrange activities, plan days out and that's just some of the things we do.
I don't know about you but I cannot remember the last time I sat down for 5 minutes. It certainly doesn't happen when the children are awake.
A friend recently shared with me an article about the mothers mental workload. It made so much sense. The amount we have to think about. It's not just a case of washing clothes. Its knowing how to prioritise them, when do the children need their PE kit, will it be warm enough for a summer school dress or should I wash the white shirts again even though that food and paint stain will never come out, have we run out of detergent?
We keep on top of everything school related. Packed lunches (buying the food, trying to provide some variety, prepare it) or will they actually eat what's on the menu today? Homework, reading books, make sure bags are packed. Note to self don't forget to put trainers in the PE bag. My poor 4 year old had to do sports in her school shoes last week. In my defence we had bought new shoes and trainers as her feet had grown over lockdown and they were still in the shopping bag. But again a good example that our mental workload can be so much that we forget things.
With the easing of lockdown I've finally been able to meet up with some other mums. It's interesting hearing from them just how much they do. My husband has worked from home during lockdown which has been a huge blessing, not just for help with the baby from time to time, but to help with my sanity; being able to have an adult conversation when we haven't been able to go out the house.
But for these mum's, their partners have been in work all day and now, some are going to the gym every day or stop at the pub after work.
I get that we all need a break from time to time and it's good for our mental health to stay active but it makes me wonder, if we said to these men we would like to go to the gym or pub every day, what would they say? Would they make the compromise? Do we still have the old deep rooted status quo that makes men think their free time is more valuable than ours and we are the ones who stay home and raise the children?
I know that there are mostly terrific fathers, but I feel there is a difference in being a great father and a great partner. Most parents adore their children and most children enjoy their parents company and are excited to see them, running to the door when they hear the keys in the lock, embracing them as they come into the house after a day at work. However, I would love for there to be more awareness around how much the mother takes on, not just physically (household chores etc) but mentally. To not be considered as a nag when we ask for a little extra help. To truly be a supportive partner.
In a recent study, to investigate how responsibilities were divided and how this impacted women's health, 90% of women said they felt solely responsible for the household, two thirds felt responsible for their child's wellbeing, and 72% felt that instilling values in their children was generally shared equally.
Those in charge of the household felt overwhelmed with their role as parents, had little time for themselves and felt exhausted, according to the findings published in the journal Sex Roles.
The researchers said that mothers must feel nurtured and cared for if they are to have good mental health and be a positive parent. When mothers feel supported, they can have the emotional resources to cope well with the demands they faced.
To all those partners who truly share the balance of parenthood, you are appreciated.
To my husband especially, thank you for stepping up when I needed you most, for taking on absolutely everything after Ava's birth when I could barely move and for being there for us in one of the most unusual years we have lived through. Lockdown has had a positive effect on our family with sharing responsibilities, it hasn't always been this way, so for that, I am grateful.