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AIBU?

Splitting the mental load

39 replies

Changeableweather · 30/09/2022 21:18

How is the mental load split in your house, and how do you work out if it's "fair"?? Can it ever be fair, and does it really matter as long as it's fairly close?

I work full time from home, and my husband teaches part time and looks after our two kids (under 3) the rest of the time. Because he spends pretty much 100% of business hours around children, I do all the life admin that requires the phone or the internet. Bills, banking, appointments, bookings for things, etc etc etc.

Because he's in the house more (don't really count my home office as the house, as if I step foot out of the door I'm accosted by tiny terrors!) he does all of what he calls the "physical mental load". He does the meal planning, the keeping on top of whether we need loo roll or toilet paper or rice or coffee, it's him who keeps track of what size feet the kids have and whether they need to go up a size of clothing, and he does most of the planning of fun days out.

Housework and childcare, outside my 9-5 it's a relatively even split. I do more night wakes because I'm breastfeeding, he does more cooking because he loves it, but we tend to end up pretty level if you look at it over a week.

Generally speaking this works really well, but every now and then I'm on the phone with British Gas or I'm working out how much we have spare in the bank and I feel lightly resentful that all the stressful stuff is on me. And I know sometimes he gets irritated that he's the one keeping track of toddler socks and laundry liquid and all the mundane endless relentless shit that comes with being an adult. It feels like each of us having our zones of responsibility is a really efficient way to run things, but at the same time it doesn't always feel fair.

How does everyone else split it? Mix the jobs up or divide them in half? I think maybe we're just exhausted and it's making us aggy. I don't know.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

29 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
86%
You are NOT being unreasonable
14%
donquixotedelamancha · 30/09/2022 21:27

We usually have a similar division to you (with me in your role) but it fluctuates. At the moment I'm not working so I am doing the bulk of both physical and mental tasks. There are times of year where I am so busy I contribute relatively little and we tick along with DW doing 80% of the housework.

We tend to have specific tasks so while I would usually do the 'mental' tasks you describe she will take on particular ones. We also use a calendar and lists to track stuff between us.

You are frustrated, so talk to him about shifting things a bit so you are happier- he is your partner so discuss what you need, rather than worrying about theoretical fairness.

Calvinlookingforhobbes · 30/09/2022 21:27

its not a job where you can split it 50/50. It’s a shared life where you respect love and support one another. Have a discussion and talk it it together.

DuckTails · 30/09/2022 21:29

Read Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

PhoneyM · 30/09/2022 21:29

You’re just exhausted cos all of its rubbish. Swap for a bit then reset who does what.

AnneLovesGilbert · 30/09/2022 21:30

What do you want to change? Your division sounds pretty fair. Bigger stuff you do is probably less frequent and the volume of food stuff and kid stuff he does is the sort of thing a lot of posters on here feel gets on top of them.

freesia86 · 30/09/2022 21:30

The whole mental load is on me which is why we are separating. I am even having to do his uc application for him so my kids don’t bloody starve when they are with him, it’s exhausting and relentless.

Oysterbabe · 30/09/2022 21:34

Our spilt is virtually the same as your except the other way round. I think it's easier to stay on top of things with defined jobs.

Changeableweather · 30/09/2022 21:40

Oysterbabe · 30/09/2022 21:34

Our spilt is virtually the same as your except the other way round. I think it's easier to stay on top of things with defined jobs.

Yeah this is why we've always done it like this, just sometimes both of us end up feeling like we do more than the other. I think that's just life, maybe? Tonight I'm annoyed because I've been trying to figure out how we pay our leccy bill and he's annoyed because he had to take a toddler shoeshopping and both those things suck.

OP posts:
girlmom21 · 30/09/2022 21:41

He does all the practical stuff - DIY etc. i do all the day to day.

SO224350 · 30/09/2022 21:44

I can't understand 'life admin' a few hours a week at most ?

Changeableweather · 30/09/2022 21:48

SO224350 · 30/09/2022 21:44

I can't understand 'life admin' a few hours a week at most ?

Yup, plus a full time job. I suppose what stresses me out is that it feels like all the very high stakes stuff - organising finances and medical stuff etc. If we dont have any loo roll that's a pain in the arse for an hour, if we don't have any money that's a fucking nightmare. Whereas DH feels like his load is relentless and endlessly boring.

We're both right. No one is unreasonable. That almost makes it worse, because I have nothing to complain about.

OP posts:
Weirdlynormal · 30/09/2022 21:51

SO224350 · 30/09/2022 21:44

I can't understand 'life admin' a few hours a week at most ?

A few HOURS on top of 40 hours work, kids clubs, housework, washing, ironing, tidying, stuff that needs fixing, paying stuff, going for the tip, mowing the lawn, FOOD FUCKING shopping, trying to exercise, and fuck me, sleeping.

and no fucker put the bins out

Weirdlynormal · 30/09/2022 21:52

It is relentless OP. For many years it was a full time job…

Luredbyapomegranate · 30/09/2022 21:52

It sounds pretty fair. Taking over whole areas is much better than task by task.

I don’t think your life adnin sounds anymore stressful than his toddler life management.
It’s just all boring. Maybe get a cleaner to get rid of some housework? Or what else would you like to happen?

Pallisers · 30/09/2022 21:54

your division sounds fair enough. It is pretty relentless with very small children.
But ...
Tonight I'm annoyed because I've been trying to figure out how we pay our leccy bill and he's annoyed because he had to take a toddler shoeshopping and both those things suck.

Does this mean you have money worries? As in are you trying to figure out what to cut in order to afford the electricity bill? Because otherwise it is just a question of pressing a button on the computer - I'd find shoe-shopping way more stressful. But if it is figuring out how to budget carefully to afford it, then I don't think it is fair for one person in a relationship to have to do all the worrying about money. Yes to paying the bills and moving money around but actually budgeting and worrying about what to cut etc., I think, should be a joint discussion.

Luredbyapomegranate · 30/09/2022 22:00

Changeableweather · 30/09/2022 21:48

Yup, plus a full time job. I suppose what stresses me out is that it feels like all the very high stakes stuff - organising finances and medical stuff etc. If we dont have any loo roll that's a pain in the arse for an hour, if we don't have any money that's a fucking nightmare. Whereas DH feels like his load is relentless and endlessly boring.

We're both right. No one is unreasonable. That almost makes it worse, because I have nothing to complain about.

Ok - you are being a bit of a wanker here OP.

You both work, so you both make sure you have money. Checking on pensions and insurance is not ‘high stakes’, it’s admin everyone does and it’s mostly routine. I presume if you are making big decisions about investments then you both decide that with the help of an FA, or if you don’t, you should.

The work he does organising your toddler’s lives is draining in a different way, but making sure they have shoes, dental appointments and food is no less high stakes is it?

Don’t be the equivalent of so many FT working men who think their lives are So Much More Important And Stressful than their PT working wives who also work by taking care of the kids and the house. It’s not a good look.

Changeableweather · 30/09/2022 22:01

Pallisers · 30/09/2022 21:54

your division sounds fair enough. It is pretty relentless with very small children.
But ...
Tonight I'm annoyed because I've been trying to figure out how we pay our leccy bill and he's annoyed because he had to take a toddler shoeshopping and both those things suck.

Does this mean you have money worries? As in are you trying to figure out what to cut in order to afford the electricity bill? Because otherwise it is just a question of pressing a button on the computer - I'd find shoe-shopping way more stressful. But if it is figuring out how to budget carefully to afford it, then I don't think it is fair for one person in a relationship to have to do all the worrying about money. Yes to paying the bills and moving money around but actually budgeting and worrying about what to cut etc., I think, should be a joint discussion.

The button pressing I can do, thankfully, but yeah at the moment it's the working out whether or not we can afford the new rates.

We do discuss it together, I run it all past him, I'm not suffering alone or anything, just it's me who's in charge of finding out whether we're broke or not, because I'm the person who looks at the bank.

OP posts:
Changeableweather · 30/09/2022 22:05

Luredbyapomegranate · 30/09/2022 22:00

Ok - you are being a bit of a wanker here OP.

You both work, so you both make sure you have money. Checking on pensions and insurance is not ‘high stakes’, it’s admin everyone does and it’s mostly routine. I presume if you are making big decisions about investments then you both decide that with the help of an FA, or if you don’t, you should.

The work he does organising your toddler’s lives is draining in a different way, but making sure they have shoes, dental appointments and food is no less high stakes is it?

Don’t be the equivalent of so many FT working men who think their lives are So Much More Important And Stressful than their PT working wives who also work by taking care of the kids and the house. It’s not a good look.

I'm not talking about deciding where to invest. I'm talking about spending an hour on the phone to British Gas discussing whether or not we qualify to have part of our bills waived due to financial hardship. I think both DH and I agree that it's higher stakes than loo roll.

I know I'm being a whiny bint but I don't think I'm being a wanker with a Big Important Job who doesn't value her part-time working husband.

OP posts:
Runningintolife · 30/09/2022 22:06

You're both pulling your weight. Treasure each other and talk, not compete. This is hard.

gretr · 30/09/2022 22:18

We both work full time and just pick up stuff when needed. I do finance, holiday bookings, and cooking as I like it and it doesn’t stress me out. Shopping is online and we both contribute. We take in turns to do nursery pick ups and drop offs. We started with set things, but work doesn’t allow for that sometimes, so we just pick up the slack when needed. Of course we have little niggles, but that’s down to stressful jobs and a young child. On the whole it works out week and we still love each other with no resentment!

Thegreenballoon · 30/09/2022 22:19

Changeableweather · 30/09/2022 21:48

Yup, plus a full time job. I suppose what stresses me out is that it feels like all the very high stakes stuff - organising finances and medical stuff etc. If we dont have any loo roll that's a pain in the arse for an hour, if we don't have any money that's a fucking nightmare. Whereas DH feels like his load is relentless and endlessly boring.

We're both right. No one is unreasonable. That almost makes it worse, because I have nothing to complain about.

I think you’re right that it’s just life. I think you need to be careful for the sake of your relationship that you don’t wind up resenting him when really you’re just resenting “life in tough times with two small kids and both working”. It sounds like you are both doing your best and appreciating each other for what you each do is probably more productive and likely to make you happier than feeling hard done by or trying to work out if shoe shopping is equal to bill paying. But if you are both fed up with “your areas” then just agree to swap or share for a bit - efficiency is great but if working together on eg the bank stuff is less efficient but makes you both happier or feel more supported or whatever then do that. Efficiency isn’t everything!

Pallisers · 30/09/2022 22:39

think you’re right that it’s just life. I think you need to be careful for the sake of your relationship that you don’t wind up resenting him when really you’re just resenting “life in tough times with two small kids and both working”. It sounds like you are both doing your best and appreciating each other for what you each do is probably more productive and likely to make you happier than feeling hard done by or trying to work out if shoe shopping is equal to bill paying.

This is great advice. The worst thing to do is have a competitive "who has it worst" attitude creep in. the best thing to do is each of you praise and thank the other for doing their share. So you say to him 'god buying shoes with toddler must have been a pain, thanks so much for doing it" and he says "thanks so much for figuring out the new electricity rates, I know it is a complete head wreck to do that"

During those years, I decided to just appreciate dh for everything he did. he did the same (this would not work if the other half is not carrying his weight). It made us each feel appreciated. Very occasionally I did say something like "I don't think you understand how hard it was for me to get everything together for school/organise your mother's visit/whatever" but by and large we each said thanks to the other and picked up things when we saw the other was stressed out. Working and rearing children this age is hard - especially with prices going up. it does get easier though and you want to come out the other end feeling like a team and feeling like you still like each other.

bluefrog11 · 30/09/2022 22:57

Whole mental load (2 primary age DC) is on me. Luckily I don’t work so I grudgingly accept this (he runs a business so there is a big “work” load on him) - still fucks me off though.

Our marriage is up & down and this is one of the big reasons why.

RandomMess · 30/09/2022 23:03

I think when finances are tight it's horrible to be the one dealing with it as it's constantly on your mind whereas your DH can just step back and compartmentalise that you are dealing with it.

Lunar270 · 30/09/2022 23:09

If we dont have any loo roll that's a pain in the arse for an hour,

Like, no shit!

TBH I don't even keep count. My wife has started to do the odd thing, like sorting out her car insurance or the house insurance but I've done everything for years. Bills, mortgages, maintenance, DIY, rental property management. But then she always does the gardening, cooks mostly, does all the Christmas cards. Cleaning is pretty even nowadays.

We manage but I don't think we even consider who does most. It just gets done. I'd hate to live each day thinking that I've done more/less and whether it's evenly split. Horrible.

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