Anne-Marie Slaughter on the mental load of motherhood and why we need to be doing less

The cultural shift that brought women into the workplace didn't shift the load we were already carrying, but added to it.

Anne-Marie Slaughter on the mental load of motherhood and why we need to be doing less

Anne-Marie Slaughter is a renowned political scientist, the President and CEO of New America, and the first woman to ever work as the director of Policy Planning for the Department of State.

She is also a mother who changed the way we think about work and motherhood when she left the Department of State after two years to spend more time with her sons, and wrote the most read article in the history of The Atlantic, titled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All".

In her book, Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, and Family, Slaughter illuminates how the cultural shift that brought women into the workplace didn't shift the load we were already carrying, but added to it.

And on the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, sponsored by Prudential, Slaughter tells Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety that the key to lessening the mental load of motherhood is doing less, and trusting our partners to do more.

According to Slaughter, while women in America "went from caregiving almost entirely to working and working for money and then still caregiving, men's roles have not changed."

She points out that while today's fathers definitely do more than previous generations, many are still held back by gender roles that minimize their contribution to their families by labeling their parenting efforts as "help," suggesting that mom is the default parent.

Raising our boys to be men who aren't afraid or ashamed to be caregivers will make the next generation more equal, but to make change for ourselves, today, Slaughter says we have to delegate. "Start small," she explains. "Let your husband take responsibility for planning birthday parties. That should be your first step."

If the pizza's cold, it's cold. If the house is a mess, it's a mess. But chances are, that won't be the case, Slaughter says. "Men can do this. Of course, they can do this right. If they can you know do all the things we do and trust them to do, they certainly can organize a child's birthday party."

She wants moms to let go of some of the caregiving responsibilities that are weighing us down, and relinquish our titles as captain of the household if we have a perfectly capable co-captain on deck. She believes the next phase of gender equality needs to see a shift in how fathers define themselves and their role at home. "The only way to get to equality is for them to be doing as much caregiving as we are doing breadwinning and ultimately it just not should be a gendered issue."

To hear more about Anne-Marie Slaughter's experiences in motherhood and her career listen to The Motherly Podcast, sponsored by Prudential, for the full interview.

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