The great mental unload. We’ve talked about the mental load a lot. We need to reduce it. But how do we start? It seems such an enormous weight that has been there so long we’ve become used to it.
At the start of the January school term, I forgot the kid’s PE kit days twice in a row. Plus I then also forgot the kit needed for an after school club. I’m an organised person. I hold down responsible work positions. I founded a business. Heck, I’m the Realistic Home Organisation Expert! But the fact is, the mental load is so great, anyone will crack at some point. Without an equitable mental load, or ways to reduce it, we will all fail at some point.
We will all forget the PE kit.
For me, I’d nailed the Autumn term, finally got on autopilot and reached Christmas the king of kit days. But PE days had changed at the start of term, the updated info was buried in a letter or a school app, plus I’d taken on a short contract that had me working full time on a specific piece of very focused work. And then, it was a bit like when you try to stuff that extra piece of Tupperware into the cupboard and then the whole lot falls out.
Because, like the Tupperware cupboard, my head was full, my mental load would load no more. Full of the nine after school activities my kids do between them. Full of work stuff. Full of what’s-for-dinner. Full of ‘who are we having a playdate with this Friday’. Full. I counted 34 things I need to remember for the kid’s school and related activities. That’s just too much. I was out. Out of disk space.
So I decided to begin The Great Mental Unload, starting with the 34 things. I wanted to keep it realistic and simple, to ensure it worked. Like, don’t try to unravel 100 years of why-all-this-was-on-my-shoulders, just something really practical that could make a difference to me, now. I simply created a chart in Excel where I wrote it all down. Not rocket science is it?
But two things struck me about this new chart and the benefits it could bring.
Writing it down was going to free my mind from having to know that mental load – free it up for other much more worthy brain work – creative new ideas for my business, relaxation, wordle (no haha not the last one no!). A nice bit of mind disc space that can be put to better use!
Writing it down was going to free me from being the ‘keeper’ of that mental load. Because my children are not babies, in fact, they want to be able to get up and know what to put on without having to ask. By becoming independent of me for that activity, they were empowered, and the mornings could go much smoother, much quicker for all of us.
The Great Mental Unloader is a simple tool you can download to start downloading your own. Mine is pinned to the inside of the tea mugs cupboard, the children have it on the backs of their doors to consult before getting dressed. You may think – this seems so simple - or maybe you already do it (great!) – but the fact is there are many things we could do but are just rushing through life at such a speed that we don’t do it, so by providing a tool so simple to set up for yourself, you may just do this thing, and we can bank a win against the mental load for the collective parental team.
This is such a simple tool but can have a profound impact on your day, on your week. Imagine the stress of getting to school with a busy work day ahead and you’ve forgotten the kit. A wasted half hour of going back later puts your whole day out. Here’s what to do;
Click here to download (first link on list) while on a laptop ideally
Enter your info for your children – there are typical sections for what they need to wear, take, test/homework, what clubs there are etc)
Save as a pdf or picture and you can even set it as wallpaper on your phone if you like or print as I did
Bask in the joy of using that space in your head for something more worthwhile than Tuesday PE kit
Start your great mental unload today!
It’s my mission to turn the constant talking about the mental load into the doing, the creation of practical ways that can help us reduce the mental load for everyone. Yes, the men and the women, both partners or parents. Whilst the gender roles of the past 100 years do impact what I do at home, what my partner does (think bins, think laundry), in my home we both contribute equally in effort to the overall mental and physical load in different ways (if you want some ideas on that – read this blog on my website) - but how about we start a movement, a movement to reduce, to unload it all, for all. We could all do with a bit more space.
About the author
Diana Spellman is the Realistic Home Organisation Expert and Founder of Serenely Sorted. With 20 years corporate experience in systems/process improvement, she used those skills to address the ‘Mess Stress’ in her own life after working from home meant she couldn’t get away from the piles that had built up over time – and created the unique Serenely Sorted System.
This realistic home organization approach combines efficiency with behaviour and mindset change and is achievable and sustainable for anyone – including the naturally messy! Diana works with busy people in-person, virtually and via her online course to help them save time, ditch the drudgery and get more peace in their homes – for the long term! Find out more at www.serenelysorted.com or book a discovery call to find out the best way for you to get started with the system. Follow Diana on Instagram at @serenely.sorted.