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A Mother’s Day Gift: Making the invisible work of motherhood visible

A Mother’s Day Gift: Making the invisible work of motherhood visible

by Olynda Smith, AMS Certified Montessori Teacher and Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach

Hey Mamas! 

Happy, almost, Mother’s day! I hope there is something nourishing lined up for you. You deserve all the celebration and recognition! 


On Mother’s day I always enjoy kid-made breakfast in bed and then I take time for a long walk by the river. This year I’m adding something new - a revolution. 


I want to invite you to join me, in any way that is right for you and your family. 


This revolution sprung from a series of late-night conversations with my husband. These happened after the dishes were done and our children had *finally* fallen asleep. They happened through my tears of frustration while I tried to explain to my beloved why I was so overwhelmed.

 

He listened deeply, but didn’t quite get it. He clearly decided to do some research, because a week later, he shared with me a podcast he had found that illuminated, for us both, what we were experiencing.


Turns out, a LOT of mothers feel the intense pressure and overwhelm that comes with both the visible and the invisible work of mothering. Invisible work is all the unseen work that goes into parenting. Often these hours are not seen or acknowledged by anyone else. For example, these are the hours spent researching best potty training techniques or organizing childcare and then reorganizing it because the first plan fell through. 


Despite the huge strides we’ve made in sharing home life responsibilities, in heterosexual couples, women tend to do most of this invisible work. We also tend to still carry much more of the “mental load” of parenting. The mental load is the mental ticker that lives inside your head of ALL the things that need to get done for the household to run smoothly. It’s also the weight of all the little and huge decisions that come into tending to children. This phenomenon is not just restricted to households with one mom and one dad! Families look so many different ways, and in nearly all of them the mental load and invisible work are unevenly distributed. 


So what’s the revolution? Let’s start seeing the invisible work and start honoring those doing that work. Let’s figure out how to share the load in order to create more balance in our homes and in our world.

 

What happens when we do? Everyone wins and we take steps toward a healthier, happier, smarter, more equitable world for everyone. 


How do we start? My suggestion, always, is start with education and inspiration. There are three ways below to do this: an article, the before mentioned podcast, and a documentary. 

 

This is the perfect moment to sit everyone and anyone you co-parent with down and  listen/watch together! Need help figuring out how to invite your partner to the party? Check out these suggestions from Fair Play. 


While it may seem like a strange Mother’s day date night, I’ll tell you both the movie and podcast are as entertaining as they are illuminating. And the payoff of diving into this work is huge for our relationships, for our health and even for our kids. Because when we are stressed and overwhelmed it’s hard to parent the way we would like to. It’s even harder to enjoy parenting. As we make the invisible visible and learn to share the load within our families, we can actually regain many of the true gifts of Motherhood.  

 

The Documentary | Fair Play Life


Podcast We Can Do Hard Things: Overwhelm Episode  


Huffington Post Article: The Mental Workload of a Mother

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