“…The truth is, while we’ve all been taught to buy things, few of us have really been taught how to own things, to manage them, nor the consequences for accumulating an excess of them, what we would kindly call “clutter.” Well, that’s somewhat simplistic; it’s not as much that we have not been taught how to own things as much as women in particular have been burdened with the expectation of managing the things we own. Things are the dominion of women, and the place where these things are stored are the dominion of women too. Women store things, organize things, clean things, order things, schedule things. We not only do these chores, we keep a mental bank of what, how, and when these chores need to be done.
It’s called the “mental load” or “third shift”—the shift following full-time employment and the actual completion of chores themselves. And, yes, the “mental load” is different from the act of doing the chores themselves. Think of it as a project management task in the household. Mononymous French comic artist Emma explained it succinctly in a viral comic for The Guardian, which begins with an overworked mom, preparing dinner for guests and for her children. When the pot boils over and spills onto the floor, her husband gets mad, telling her ‘you should’ve asked! I would’ve helped!’”