Mom’s Silent Workload Takes Its Toll
Being a working mother is no easy feat. The everyday demands of managing a home, organizing a family, and earning an income can be overwhelming. It’s no surprise, then, that moms suffer from higher levels of depression and stress than fathers or non-parents. But the real toll of motherhood is often hidden in the “silent workload” of unpaid emotional labor.
What’s Emotional Labor?
Emotional labor is the energy expended in managing both your own and others’ emotions. Examples of emotional labor include:
- Balancing tasks: Scheduling appointments, organizing childcare, and planning family trips.
- Regulating emotions: Caring for an ill family member and reassuring a child who’s scared.
- Providing emotional support: Being present for extended family and friends, being a sympathetic listener, and offering advice.
This emotional labor falls mainly on female shoulders. Working mothers shoulder this workload in addition to their 9-to-5 workdays and full-time jobs. The task of managing a household’s daily minutiae — combined with the constant demands of managing emotion — is staggering.
The Cost of Emotional Labor
Emotional labor is very demanding, both physically and psychologically. Juggling the needs of multiple people takes a toll on women’s time and energy. Women who are weighed down by unchecked emotional labor often have to make choices to protect their health and mental wellbeing.
Furthermore, emotional labor can be devalued and taken for granted. This subtle pressure erodes the woman’s self-respect and can lead to feelings of resentment and even depression.
How to Manage Emotional Labor
It’s essential that women share their emotional labor, from family members to partners to colleagues. Everyone in the family should help out, especially if they have the means.
Additionally, women should make sure to set clear boundaries. It’s always OK to say “no” and delegate tasks, or even postpone them until they feel ready. Everyone needs a break from time to time!
Finally, give yourself credit for your hard work. Emotional labor is valuable and often underestimated. Recognize your contributions — both large and small — and provide yourself with the self-care you deserve.
Being a working mother is a demanding job. With the right attitude and support, women can create balance in their lives and keep emotional labor from turning into a silent burden.