parent opinion

'Like a lot of women, I have parental burnout. But I'm also addicted to doing it all.'

It’s 10pm as I write this. My day started at 5am as I fed my 14-week-old baby girl, before popping her back in her bed just as my toddler woke up shouting for his mum. Always his mum.

And that was the start of the next 17 hours being broken down into micro moments, spinning through task after task.

Dressing my toddler, washing dishes, playing dinosaurs, putting clothes away, changing nappies, more feeding, thinking about dinner, paying the phone bill, remembering that I still haven’t got anything out of the freezer and wondering when exactly does the car insurance need to be renewed?

The sexiest thing a man can do is share the mental load. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

The mental load. We’ve heard a lot about it over the last few years. It’s those things like knowing your kid’s shoe size, booking their vaccinations, remembering your mother-in-law’s birthday and keeping an eye on the bank accounts.

And for the best part women bear the brunt of it. We know this. It isn’t anything new.

We still do more chores around the home than our partners, as well as spending more time caring for our children and also balancing it with careers.

In fact, released in April this year the 2018 McKinsey Report officially showed that women are 10 times more likely to take time off work to look after sick children than men, even if they’re the breadwinner.

And it also showed that females spend twice as much time taking care of the kids, even if they work the same hours as their partners.

So, are men generally just a bit crap when it comes to pitching in? I have no firm science to back this, except for what I see with my own eyes, and I’d say for the best part men (not all) don’t generally take initiative around the home unless they’re given a detailed plan to follow.

And that’s part of the problem, right? Thinking about a plan and instilling it takes up so much time that we might as well do it ourselves aka the mental load.

But there’s another side no one really talks about and that is perhaps, in some slightly masochistic way, us women actually enjoy doing the lion’s share.

burnout symptoms mums
"Thinking about a plan and instilling it takes up so much time that we might as well do it ourselves aka the mental load." Image: Supplied.
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I’ll admit it, I do. The more I think about it, I’d say that I’m actually addicted to doing it all. I get a buzzy hit from it.

After all, isn’t the lion the undefeated king of the jungle? Because that’s exactly how I feel when I’m spinning lots and lots of plates and actually keeping them in the air.

On those days when I’ve divided my time equally between two children, I’ve done some work, managed to squeeze 30 minutes on the spin bike, created a delicious dinner, got a quickie in with the husband on the sofa and even put makeup on, I’m on a fizzy high.

And as if that euphoric feeling isn’t enough, I have a supportive group of female friends ready to offer further validation. In our group Whatsapp or in Instagram messenger, I can easily find the vibe of: How do you do it? Wow, you are superwoman. #killingit.

In the age of women celebrating women, we don’t have to look far for our slightly self-destructive desires of loading more and more responsibility onto our plates to be celebrated as commendable. It’s an addictive currency.

But the thing about doing it all, and getting celebrated for it, is that the days when the plates fall - and they always do as we are just one human - is that the dreamy high is replaced with a mood-dipping low.

Parental burnout is something that happens to women more than men. That’s undoubtedly true. But is it always because men are completely rubbish at sharing responsibility or because some of us actually enjoy toeing that euphoric line that comes just before a burnout?

It’s food for thought, I suppose. You just have to fit that contemplation into your day’s micro moments. Maybe somewhere between cleaning the bog, doing food prep and remembering to buy some more nappies.


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