When you become a parent, your workload becomes exponentially bigger. Even through maternity and paternity leave, the load of the parent is consistent and constant.
So when you are thrown into the midst of parenthood you find out pretty quickly that you need to stay on your toes.
We learn to plan meticulously and it becomes almost embedded in our subconscious. What this means is that there is always a load of errands, to-do lists, pre-emptying and planning going on in your mind without you even realising it.
This is the emotional and mental load of a parent. And this becomes the invisible load, when these thoughts, errands or chores start to become unnoticed by the rest of the family.
This is a common thing to occur as it is natural for each member of the family to slip into their own role in that dynamic.
What is the physical invisible load?
Throughout each family dynamic, everyone has their roles. Whichever parent you play; working, stay-at-home, mixed, single or co-parent, you will find that there are certain things you do around the house day-to-day to benefit your family.
When you find yourself keeping the fridge full of snacks, unpacking and packing lunch boxes and PE kits, pairing up socks, giving counters a wipe down each day, giving the toilet a swipe with the brush, it can not even occur to others how or when these get done.
What is the emotional invisible load?
The emotional weight of the invisible load can feel heavy at times, so it is important to acknowledge when this is happening.
If you are sitting at work nearing the end of the day, and you start to ponder what you are going to make for dinner, then what you already have in the fridge and what you need to pick up on the way home, this all contributes to your emotional load.
Another example is one parent going to the shops, but asks you what you need and therefore asking you to list from memory, or scan the kitchen for what is needed. Rather than unloading the task completely, this simply reworks the food shop task into an invisible load task.
More likely within a family, and more often than not, at least one parent is attempting to always preempt the needs of the home at all times. Each of these thoughts can build up over time and can snowball and feel overwhelming.
These seem like standard, day-to-day tasks, but within a family it is common for it to go unnoticed, hence it becomes part of the invisible load.
Why do we need to add visibility to the load?
Acknowledging your invisible load is a vital part of a strong family dynamic. Especially with an emotional load, certain feelings can creep up on you without you knowing, this is because an emotional load can seemingly go on forever.
Without sharing or creating coping mechanisms for this it can create issues including:
When you start to take note of what this load is and how it is making you feel – then you can also recognise when it is becoming too much and either share the load, or start to prioritise some more than others.