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The ‘mental load’ falls squarely on mother’s shoulders—and it’s making us very tired

My husband has approximately three things he adds to our household grocery list:


  • His shaving cream.
  • His shampoo.
  • Shower spray. (Don’t ask about this one. He has an obsessive thing about the glass shower door.)

That’s it.

It’s not his fault. Not really. I make note of the rest of the 8,000 things a family of four requires because it falls squarely under the duties of CEO of our household—a position I never interviewed for, yet I rose up through the ranks to find myself in, sometime between the day I got married and the day I popped out a second kid.

I stay home with the kids, which means I am the default day-to-day manager. Nevermind that I also work, it just happens to be at the kitchen table. So while I attempt to craft the next viral essay on the hilarity of momhood, I’m also trying to teach my kids how to craft a homemade paper mache pinata.

This is 100 percent what is happening right now. See?

As moms, our minds are always going. Going fast. Going in a million different directions. Going away. Going.

And it’s not just the children and the shopping lists we manage. It’s all of it—we think about the cleaning, the cooking, the organizing, the planning, the dressing, the gift-buying, the brushing, the laundering, the caring about the everything.

If you are lucky like me, hubs is happy to pitch in. Mine shares carpool duty and manages bedtime. I have never cut a blade of grass or taken out the garbage. He is known as “Lord of the Dishwasher.”

But, even though he handles certain chores, there is always me, magically elfing behind the scenes—managing the stuff that makes his duties possible.

I tell him what time to pick up the kids and who has what practice when. Without me, there wouldn’t be dishwasher pods or garbage bags, and there certainly wouldn’t be toothpaste for brushing or new library books for bedtime stories.

This, my fellow moms, is why we are tired. Not because we don’t have help or get enough sleep—well, there is that.

But there is also the fact that mom brain is a real thing, and if you’re nodding along with me—congratulations, you, too, are suffering from it.

That endless running to-do list is called the mental load. It is heavy, and in most families, it is carried by the mom.

The notion of the mental load is beautifully captured in all its glory in this cartoon by French comic artist, Emma. Her depiction of the struggle entitled “You Should Have Asked” nails this idea that for the majority of households, women are constantly managing and keeping track of all that needs to be done.

In the cartoon, when things go haywire in the kitchen, the husband points out he was there to help. “You should’ve asked!” he says.

But, do we really have to ask?

In short, yes. So, go ahead, add “Ask for help” to your to-do list.

Susan Walzer, a sociologist at Skidmore College, published a research article in 1996, called, “Thinking About the Baby,” that confirms some truths in Emma’s cartoon. Walzer interviewed 23 couples who had recently become parents and found that women do, in fact, carry more of the mental load.

Noting that, even when their partners helped out, women are the ones who noticed what needed to be done in the first place.

At no point is this more clear than when I travel for work. Before I hop on that plane I pre-pack lunches, I buy and prepare easy dinners, I do all the laundry, I lay out clothes, I write down the schedule. I make all the plans that I won’t be a part of. When hubs travels, he just kisses us and leaves.

The burden of this self-inflicted mental load is mine. I’m the one worrying, thinking, planning. But honestly, if I did none of this, he would be fine. The kids would be happy.

He might feed them donuts and nuggets, and they’d dress themselves in a cacophony of colors, but the world would keep spinning.

But I return, and hubs rejoices. The heavy baton of mental load passes back to me: manager in residence. Balance (or imbalance) is restored as I resume my position lying awake in bed making mental lists and taking note of every dirty sock and empty ketchup bottle.

That, dear mamas, is why we’re all so darn tired.

This article was originally published on Simplemost.

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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