parent opinion

PARENT OPINION: How I'm conquering the mental load in 2022.

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I wouldn’t say the pandemic was relaxing for... literally anyone, but for anyone managing small kids (and especially mothers) it added another level of logistics on top of an already heaped mental load.           

The common response when you talk about the mental load is “lower your expectations”. But for most mums I know, that’s not realistic. School uniforms still need washing, lunches need to be made, bills to be paid, doctor's appointments, swimming lessons, and a sprinkling of birthday parties and playdates. 

Surely in an era when we have 26 streaming services and Viennetta ice-cream on a stick we don’t have to compromise?

Of course there’s a deeper issue here about relationships and gender roles, and lots of very clever people have already weighed in on that. If you’re overloaded and looking for practical tips, I’ve got you covered. 

So, here are the 7 exact ways I’m reducing the mental load of parenting in 2022. 

Learning exactly when to call in the pros.

When a job needs doing, it can be tempting to try to DIY it, but looking back over my first few years as a parent I realised I’d waste so much time, money and mental energy trying to do things myself for a sub-par result. 

One of my key ways to conquer the mental load this year has been to call in a skilled professional to get jobs done properly so it’s off my list for good. 

Airtasker actually been so perfect for this. 

If you’re not already using Airtasker, it’s a platform to help anyone get more... done, basically. And done well, by someone who knows a heck of a lot more than you do about a particular area or task. 

You can post any task you need done, set your budget and book a Tasker. It’s that easy. 

Taskers are all skilled in their own niches, and you can basically have anything completed on Airtasker: hedge trimming, carpet cleaning, Wi-fi set up, mounting your TV on the wall, dog training, kids' party clean-up, face painting – even finding someone to teach you Spanish. You can also have digital tasks completed remotely, like illustration, logo design, website development, accounting or data entry. 

This blows my mind.

After the recent rain at my Sydney home (thanks La Niña), it seems an entire community of cockroaches moved into our bathroom... cue the horror. Numerous trips to Bunnings, cans of bug spray and cockroach baits later... nothing seemed to be working. In fact, they seemed to be calling all their mates and doubling in numbers!

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GET OUT OF MY BATHROOM IMMEDIATELY PLS. Image: Supplied.

So I jumped on Airtasker to book a Tasker more well versed in this area. The posting process was really simple, where Airtasker prompts you to make sure you include all the info a potential Tasker might need. Within minutes I had three offers to complete my task. I could check out their profiles and completion rate, and then I assigned the task to who I thought was the best suited Tasker.

A Tasker named Jorge, the master of all things creepy crawly, arrived the next day with all of his own equipment and completed the job within an hour. Because Airtasker securely holds the payment until the job is completed there was no awkward dash to the ATM. 

Such a relief to have the job done properly and our unwanted tiny tenants evacuated.

While our hero Jorge did his thing, I did this. JK, I did laundry. Image: Supplied.

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Meal prep smarter, not harder.

I’m not talking about spending Sundays steaming chicken and broccoli so you can eat the same thing everyday. Nope. Instead, I’ve cleared out space in the freezer, and whenever we cook dinner now this year, we make two extra portions that I freeze for work lunches in zip-lock bags or tupperware.

Mind blown. What haven't I always deliberately cooked more to do this? It’s that simple and leftovers are always better than disappointing store-bought salads.

Set up a family calendar.

Half the problem with the mental load is it’s... all in my head. Having all those tabs open in my brain can be overwhelming. So, actually having that information extracted and down on (digital) paper means the knowledge about each 'thing' to remember (and responsibility to manage it) can be shared with my partner. 

I set up a shared Google Calendar so that my husband and I can both add events, appointments and big chores that need doing. If you’re a more visual person, a magnetic planner from lady startup, My Family Weekly Planner would be a great way to keep track of what everyone under your roof has on each week.

Many hands make light (and kid's parties) work.

Confession time. I’ve never thrown a proper kid's birthday party for my girls. 

You know the type: 15 to 30 children, running around screaming, preferably in costume, best day of their lives, etc etc.

I’ve dodged five potential parties so far. To be fair, I did had bushfires and a pandemic to blame for a while there. But now my daughter is old enough to understand, it’s just not going to fly anymore.

As any parent knows, birthday parties can be somewhat of a... competition. That’s not a new revelation apparently. (I see all the older generations of parents rolling their eyes at me!). But look, it’s impacting me now, so now I care deeply about it.

Current consensus in my parenting circles is that kid’s parties need: a cake, decorations, invitations, party bags, food, drinks, a playlist, entertainment and games. 

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Which seems like… a lot. But if you look at that list, they are all just tasks. Which someone else can nail. Long gone are the days when your only option was 100 per cent DIY, or a JLo-style event planner with a black earpiece and a $10K fee. When I was browsing tasks on Airtasker the other day I noticed that you can hire a Tasker to do everything from making the cake to packing party bags, at a much more affordable rate. 

Pro tip: book a cleaner to help afterwards too. Life saver.

Image: Supplied.

Get your groceries delivered (and organised).

I resisted this for so long because I assumed you always got the dodgy fruit and veg (or products about to expire) if you left it up to someone else. 

It wasn't until a mum friend told me you can add a note into your order requesting maximum expiration dates. Genius. Set up your weekly order to be delivered, and then it’s at your door, each week with just a click. 

If you really want to reduce the mental load or there’s no delivery window that suits you, try using Airtasker to find a Tasker that's an organisational wizard to actually click & collect your groceries for you, and organise them in your pantry, so you can live out your own pantry transformation fantasy.

One activity a day on the weekends. Max.

As a full-time working parent, I used to compulsively jam-pack weekends with outings, catch ups and playdates to really maximise that 48 hours.

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Most of the time I’d spend more hours organising these than we did at the events themselves and we’d constantly be running late to the next catchup. At the start of 2022 I made a rule that we could only have one planned activity a day on the week and it’s already easing the mental load in spades. 

Instead, after nap time we head to our local park. There are so many local families who do the same that we’ve now made an amazing new group of friends we can hang out with – without the admin hassle.

When I can: get a cleaner.

This is such an easy one, and feels so boujee, because of course – it's a luxury. 

I've decided that for our family, and my mental load, it's an investment I’d rather prioritise over a fancy perfume or dinner outing any day. 

I found my regular cleaner through Airtasker two years ago, and she's incredible. She does a much better job than I ever could (and in record time). 

Don’t underestimate the power of mess and clutter in making you feel MORE overwhelmed and overloaded. 

I love that because you can customise your task in detail when you post, you only pay for what you need. For example, I’m happy to make our beds myself, so I leave that out of the deliverables when I book. Whereas with two sticky-handed children our mirrors, TV and cupboards need cleaning every time.

Personally I’m still working on my compulsion to “clean for the cleaner” at 11pm the night before but… baby steps.

The mental load that parents deal with on a daily basis is overwhelming. Appointments, cleaning, kids' education, groceries, birthdays, holidays, technology, bills, family planning  - the list goes on and on. We like to think we can do it all, but sometimes, you’ve just got to ask for help. Someone to help deliver the groceries. To assemble the furniture. To walk the dog. Pretty much anything on your ‘to do’ list, you can Airtask it. And it’s something that parents need to be doing more often, because sometimes you’ve just got to get the job done.

How are you conquering the mental load in 2022? Let us know in the comments below.

Get more done with Airtasker. Want your home cleaned, dog walked or furniture put together? Just post a task on Airtasker you’d like done, suggest a fair budget for a job well done and you’ll start to receive offers from available Taskers.

Feature image: Supplied.

Airtasker
Airtasker is a trusted community marketplace that connects people who need work done with people who want to work, with its mission being to empower people to realise the full value of their skills. People and businesses can simply post a task and then choose from rated, verified and reviewed people ready to work straight away. Founded in 2012, Airtasker has grown to support more than 4.6 million members across Australia, with 19,771 monthly active Taskers. In 2020, Airtasker was named as one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast50, amongst the fastest growing established tech companies in Australia. Airtasker is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).