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Partner not carrying their load? This dad’s Twitter thread is the wake-up call they need

A dad on Twitter explains what really makes the mental load so exhausting, and what parents can do about it.

Partner not carrying their load? This dad’s Twitter thread is the wake-up call they need

The work of parenting and running a household isn’t only found in physical tasks, like diaper changes or taking out the trash. It’s also invisible labor: planning, scheduling and being the keeper of all things, from lunchboxes to missing socks. This invisible labor is called the mental load, and it’s a lot to carry. What makes it even more burdensome is the fact that women are often expected to carry it alone. It can be difficult to explain how exhausting it is to feel like the CEO of every detail of your family’s life. That’s why people are loving this viral Twitter thread by a dad that breaks down the mental load for those who just don’t get it.

Rickesh Lakhani, a married father of two, begins his post by addressing men who say things to their partner like, “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it” or “Let me know if I can help.” If you say those things, he writes, then it’s time to talk about mental load.

“Mental load is having to remember and plan for all of things it takes to run a household, which is a huge part of the work outside of the actual tasks,” he explains. “Normally, it’s women who primarily take this on, and it’s exhausting.”

Lakhani gives examples of some things that fall under the “mental load” category: changing sheets and towels, meal planning or making sure the kids have clothes that fit. The thought processes and planning that go into these tasks are easy to overlook, so partners may not even realize they’re ignoring so much behind-the-scenes labor.

“While you are probably carrying out a lot of tasks and perceive that the workload is equal, it’s likely not when you factor in the thinking work,” he tells other men. “If you aren’t thinking, planning, coordinating, then it’s not equal.”

Lakhani’s straightforward explanation of the mental load struck a chord with moms and dads alike. Since the post was shared on April 17, it’s gotten over 18,000 likes. Hundreds of people have also commented to talk about their own experiences with the mental load and what’s helped them address this problem in their relationships.

“Thank you for understanding this!! I have tried to explain this to my husband and he gets offended,” one mom writes. “I have explained to my family so many times. I don’t mind making the meals, I just don’t want to decide what to make every single day.”

Another mom says she had to explain the concept of the mental load to her husband when he couldn’t figure out why she was so stressed about taking care of their 4-month-old.

“He tells me every time, ‘You haven’t asked for anything,’ and ‘Just tell me what you need me to do.’ I finally told him flat out last night, ‘I’m tired of having to ask and tell you what I need. I wish you would just look around or take a guess. Some initiative. I have to remember everything and I feel like I’m going to explode.'”

One mom says what made her partner finally understand the problem was having to take over holiday planning while she was hospitalized.

“My husband figured this out one year because I was in the hospital leading up to Christmas,” she writes. “He realized how much work went into making Christmas happen. And I said that’s every single day. I make every day happen. He really picked up his end then.”

Lakhani acknowledges that the mental load doesn’t only affect women, and that the burden can be different depending on a couple’s relationship dynamics, mental health needs and many other factors. Single parents have to carry the mental load on their own, and they may not always have the support they need.

“I’m not saying that this is all men or all relationships, or that it hasn’t gotten better over time,” he writes. “But the mass exit of women from the workforce in the last two years is largely because of the household responsibilities that have defaulted to women, like childcare.”

He also offers some advice for people who want to work on making their relationships more equal:

  • Take an active role in managing the household.
  • Make schedules and lists.
  • Have regular conversations about needs to be done.
  • Don’t wait to be asked or told to do things.
  • Don’t assume anything just magically happens.
  • Celebrate the work that goes into running a household.

Lastly, Lakhani adds that he didn’t write his thread because he thinks he’s somehow a perfect partner. Rather, he acknowledges that unequal sharing of the mental load is a problem he works on in his own marriage, and his post is meant to encourage others to do the same.

“I’m far from perfect here,” Lakhani explains. “I’m still practicing and catching when I find myself doing these things, which is more often than I would like. But I’m trying. It’s not easy unlearning decades of conditioning. But we have to because, right now, it’s totally unfair.”