Recently, I spoke about how I believe so much of our chronic stress as women comes from the invisible mental load we carry. It seems to be a particularly topical issue at the moment – just this week a clip went viral of Maggie Dent (Love Maggie) chatting to Kate Richie on radio about the relentless mental chatter so many women experience.

But the question is, how can we manage our mental load better so that we’re not always in a state of chronic stress?

Well, let me start by saying that I’m no expert! I, like you, am a work in progress…

But I do have the privilege of being in conversations with so many women (many of them mums) who are struggling with this. Plus I have had a whole heap of personal experience in this, being a mum of three boys, running a business (or two) and trying my bloody hardest to live a purpose-driven, joy-filled life… 

So here are my top tips in tackling Mama Mental Load:

  1. Make the invisible load visible
  2. Accept that our partners might not get it
  3. Choose communication over resentment
  4. Choose done over perfect
  5. Practice quietening the chatter

1. Make the invisible load visible

I believe the first step in tackling mental load is making it visible, and writing it down can be a great place to start.

I personally use:

A brain dump list (not a to-do list!)

It’s a place where I get all of my thoughts down on paper (or in my phone) and out of my head as they pop up. They are things I don’t want to forget and I might eventually get to, but I’m not attributing any kind of urgency to them. This can be so helpful in clearing space in my brain, but also in seeing how long the list actually is. Some of these things aren’t actually that important and may never get done, but I can make this decision and release it from my mind much more easily when it’s written down.


I do this most days and use it to process my thoughts & feelings, especially the more dominant ones. I might start with noticing how I’m feeling and then see if I can trace it back to a particular thought. Then I get curious about that thought and question where it might be coming from and if it is true.

I also heard an idea in class this week from one of my lovely clients. She uses a ‘List of Love’ (much nicer sounding than Brian dump!). She and her husband both write things down as they pop into their head, and then they cross them off as they’re addressed or not relevant anymore. I love that they have a communal list and so they are taking on the responsibility together.

2. Accept that our partners might not get it

As Maggie D mentioned on radio, women are biologically wired to take on more mental load then men. Sure, every relationship differs, but the research tells us that in most heterosexual relationships, it’s the women who take on more of the ‘invisible household labour’. 

I think we need to start by just accepting we are different. Our brains might be wired differently to our partners and they might never understand what it feels like to experience the level of constant mental chatter that we do. It’s not their fault. 
But we can also help them to understand what it’s like for us (the visual brain dump list helps!) and also adjust our expectations accordingly.

Have you heard the Shakespeare quote “Expectation is the root of all heartache”? Well, I think in the case of mama mental load, the expectation that our partners should think like us can be the root of much resentment.

Which brings me to number 3…

3. Choose communication over resentment

One of the biggest comments I hear from women about household responsibilities and mental load is “I don’t want to have to remind him to…” or “I just wish I wasn’t the one who always had to think of …”

It can be exhausting to feel like we’re carrying all of this responsibility on our own. And expecting less from our partners or others doesn’t actually reduce the load on our plate… But I think once we have accepted our differences, then we can communicate what we need without as much resentment.

It might just be that you want him/her to jump in and say “I’ve got this” more – tell them that.
It might be that you are happy to cook meals, but you don’t want to think of the meals and buy the groceries – tell them that.

Because let’s face it, if you have a partner who you live with and you love each other, you probably would rather make each others lives easier rather than harder. And I’m assuming you’d rather choose harmony over fighting too? 

So let’s get over who has to think of what first, and just get really good at outsourcing and delegating, baby!

4. Choose done over perfect

Something that often comes up when we start sharing the load a bit more is that the things we normally do don’t get done the way we’d normally do it…
Depending on your personality, this might be very triggering and make you want to intervene, give “helpful advice” or just take the job back and do it yourself!

When we choose done over perfect (i.e perfect in our eyes), other people can find their own way. And maybe, just maybe, they will find an even better / quicker / smarter way of doing the thing!
Either way, you don’t have to do it. Imperfectly done is better than perfectly not done.

5. Practice quietening the chatter

Mental chatter can be constant, but it is generally worse or at least more negative in its nature when we are tired, depleted, or dysregulated.

Just like we need to rest our bodies after we’ve been physically active, we also need to rest our minds. The goal isn’t to eliminate mental chatter entirely but to give our minds a break, allowing our nervous system to regulate and replenish. 

A break might look like a mindfulness or meditation practice, movement, yoga, rest or spending time in nature. You get to choose what works for you! But the key is to practice a little, often.