The Mother’s mental load is real

It’s that time of the year again, where I get go pack my bags and enjoy a media trip.

These are my all time favourite trips as they often include fun road trips, familiar small towns, lots of good company and the discovery of local hidden gems while I get the perfect excuse to take a gazillion photos of everything and make some great memories with industry colleagues, who over the years have become great friends.


The day before I leave is also the single most stressful time of my life.

Why you ask?

Well the short answer is because I’m a mom !

The longer explanation is best summed up as a mother’s mental load.

What is the mother mental load?

The mother’s mental load consists of the thousands of unseen preparations, thoughts and planning that is automatically assigned to the default parent. The small unseen chores and complex organisation that it takes not only to manage and run a household, but also to successfully navigate the lives of your family.

From remembering to pack lunches, book appointments, sign forms, stock the grocery cupboards and feed the cat to arranging transport, shopping for new clothing and making the choices that best suit your home.

Most moms know that they make millions of small decisions every week, and operate with ten tabs open and the multitasking skills of a complete PR team.

All of these tasks are unseen, unacknowledged and unappreciated until mom drops the ball and they are not done! It’s usually only when the washing piles up or someone forgot to buy the toothpaste that mom will be reminded of her default position to oversee her kingdom correctly.

Oganisation overdrive

So, why is the day before my trip so stressful?

Naturally, depending on how long I am away for I need to ensure that any work on my blog and photography business is up to date and my social media is scheduled to go ahead if I am unable to post.

I need to clean my home, make sure washing is up to date, Hamishs clothing is set out for the time I am away and that the people ( his dad and brothers) watching him know where to find everything.

The animals cages need to be cleaned and I have to see that they have enough water and food, in case someone forgets to feed them.

I also need to water my plants and arrange that the bins are clean ….so I don’t come back to dead plants and over flowing bins.

Bathrooms are restocked with toiletries and toilet paper. (Yes, they could do this but I really don’t want a call while I’m mid safari to ask where the toilet paper is….. Moms I know you understand!)

Food needs to be brought, snacks packed out for Hamish, fruit bowl stocked up and supper planned and prepped. I also prep lunches and breakfasts for Hamish for all days that I am away so that he can help himself.

School work is allocated, set out and instructions are left for what needs to be done. If any homeschool excursions are happening, those need to be paid, instructions and directions given, bag packed for it as well as lunch arranged and prepped.

Then I start to get myself ready, pack and charge my camera batteries. Double check travelling details and itinerary. Normally, I arrive at my destination knowing I’ve forgotten something.

By the time I go to bed, I’m tapped out, exhausted and left wondering why I’m the only adult in my home.

This is default parent life. For the most part we carry these mental loads, sacrifice our time, energy and on days sanity because we love our families.

Occasionally, we wonder out loud, with a burst of ” Why can’t anyone do anything here?”

More often than not, we are happy to carry the load, we do it almost unconsciously a lot of the time and we know the value it brings our home.


Us default parents are only human. We need a break too ….


If you are lucky enough to not be the default parent or not to carry the majority of the mental load give them a break !

How to help reduce the mental load

  • Plan an outing without asking them where to go or to get the kids ready.
  • Buy the ingredients and cook the meal.
  • Don’t ask where the toilet paper is kept….you live in the house too!
  • Bath the kids and find the towel and clothing yourself.
  • Make a note of the food you need in the house and shop for it.
  • Think of all the small magical things that happen around you ( like who dusts the wall, scrubs the toilet, vacumes the couches, wipes the light switches and sweeps at the doorstep) ….do those!

In short…. if you really can’t think of any other way to reduce the default parents mental load simply remind them that what they bring to the table is seen,  appreciated and valued. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.