I’m sorry I’ve been so scarce. I have been wanting to blog almost every day – as there is so much to say! But I’ve been very busy these last few weeks with something I’ve been struggling to put a name to. Until fellow blogger Kathryn from Becoming You shared this article and a lightbulb went off in my head and I knew I HAD to blog about it.
What is the invisible workload? Read the piece, but in summary, it’s a workload that no one talks about. No one acknowledges it. It doesn’t get any glory. It’s not big stuff, like who is bringing home the bacon. It’s the small things, like noticing that your kid’s toenails are far too long, looking for the nail scissors, not being able to find them, writing down in your diary “BUY NEW NAIL CLIPPERS” and then remembering on Monday to go out and buy a pair and then sit down one evening and actually trim their nails. Sound petty and insignificant? Maybe it is. But take the mental space that one tiny task involves, and multiply it by 10s or 100s of tiny tasks per week, and you can see how quickly this workload would add up.
“I am the person who notices that we are running low on toilet paper”, the one who knows what brand of toothpaste or juice everyone likes, when to change the towels because they’re starting to smell, the chief “worrier, organizer, rememberer, and attention-payer”, says blogger Ellen Seidman. And aren’t most of us that too?
What I found interesting in the piece is that although the split of housework/childcare between genders has got a lot more equal over the years, it’s still often the women who are doing most of the thinking. We are the delegators, the keepers of schedules, the ones who remind people to pack tuckshop money on a Friday, or take swimming bags on a Monday morning, or decide what the kids are eating each evening (chicken pie? pasta? fish fingers?).
We nag people because we run the house like a tight ship and we’re juggling so many balls that sometimes this can drag us down. We feel “stressed” when our lives are just ordinary (privileged) lives, and then we may feel guilty for feeling stretched.
We get home from our jobs (if we work), and then our second job starts, and more often than not, it’s even more demanding. I walked through the door on Thursday and was immediately greeted by an enthusiastic daughter who wanted all 18 books covered in plastic right now, a son who was hungry and a husband who was out of the door like a shot to go paddling.
While I am incredibly lucky to have a partner who does more than his fair share of lifts, chores and childcare, it is still me who is doing a lot of the thinking and the worrying. This little superpower is performed world over, but gets no recognition – unlike earning a salary does.
And although every family set up is different, it is more often the women who get the raw deal. The amount of times I’ve heard women say, in conversation with other women, “Well, I don’t work/earn much, so I can’t really justify that new dress/yoga session/lunch with friends/holiday”. Listen, your workload is JUST as important, even though it’s invisible, and that’s what I’m trying to articulate here.
I see you. The one ironing on name tags. Exchanging school shoes that are the wrong size. Covering books. Remembering to fill out the extramural form by the deadline. Going out and buying vitamins for your kids because you know it’s the start of the school year and there are lots of germs about. I see you and your work is INVALUABLE. So the next time someone tries to tell you that’s it’s not, introduce them to the concept of the “invisible workload”, delegate some tasks and then skip off for a pedicure. You deserve it.