Anahí: The invisible work of mothers

A few months ago, I read a study that caught my attention. It’s called The Invisible Housework: Mothers as Captains of Homes, by psychologist Lucia Ciciolla, an academic at Oklahoma State University.

I confess that she shocked me. Through a detailed analysis, she explains how everything we women do at home affects the physical, emotional and psychological health, and it seems that “no one notices“.

I know that each of us has different circumstances, but in this research, the expert examines how the distribution of work in the couple is related to the well-being of women and, therefore, of the whole family.

90% of those surveyed women considered that they had full responsibility for organizing the family's schedules, 70% said they were "the captain" of the ship and 78% assured that they were the ones who knew and had contact with the teachers of the kids. 

What the expert says is that the enormous mental burden of organizing a family and household chores, promoting the well-being of children and even making financial decisions generates feelings of anguish and emptiness in women. In the long run, this deteriorates health and generates dissatisfaction with the partners.

That unseen work

In some cases, when we announce that we are going to be mothers, people dedicate all their support and attention to us, but when our baby is born, it seems that we have disappeared and that we do not need help.

The fact is that the invisible work of mothers is taken for granted. It is an endless list of pending issues that seems to be magically resolved. It doesn’t matter if you have someone to help you at home. You as a mom are the leader, the one who asks for medical appointments, the one who is aware of the children’s activities, the one who organizes and knows what is needed in the fridge.

I certainly think that, like you, I am also a multitasker. And how not to be one? I truly believe that part of a mom’s job is to remember every detail, every appointment, date, or task. It is taking care of the home and raising the children, but I can also feel a great responsibility for the general well-being and the emotional states that my children present.

It is simply an exhausting job, rarely seen and validated.

Dad gets more and more involved, but it’s still not enough

The good news is that both men and women are beginning to recognize that the management of the home continues to fall on the female side. It may not seem much, but think about it: until a few years ago nobody stopped to think about the mother, always devoted, without making any complaint.

Today we know that if we want children to be well, we need to attend the well-being of mothers, our well-being.

The investigation that I am telling you about links this type of mental load to high levels of anguish in mothers. There is no doubt that this constant juggling and multitasking takes its toll on us.

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Balance is the key

It is vitally important to get organized for allowing fathers, besides being providers, to get involved in everything else in the home. We must talk about dividing the tasks in a coherent way, consciously, that is, making them responsible for some particular tasks.

That way the emotional burden and stress we suffer as moms will be more bearable. If we are calm and let our partner participate in daily activities, letting him do it his way, without controlling or wanting him to do it our way, we will surely have a better relationship with him and with our children. It is important to feel supported in order to have the emotional resources to face the great task of being a mother.

You are a priority too

We are taught that the first thing in our lives should be our children, then our partner and at the end of a long list of “priorities” we remember that we also need time for ourselves.

We have to learn that before being mothers, wives and daughters, we are women. It is normal that among so many obligations that come along motherhood, we forget about ourselves, but motherhood cannot be a sentence. It is essential that every day you dedicate a space to do those activities that brought you joy, physical and emotional well-being before becoming a mother.

Every day I give myself that “mom time” because it makes me feel good and be a better mother. I give myself a space to exercise and pamper myself doing the things that I have always enjoyed. Are you capable of giving yourself an hour a day just for you? Try it, you will regain your individuality and feel happier.

I am Anahí and I am looking forward to meeting you in my next article in Baby Creysi.

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Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara

Spanish version: Here

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