Why Women Have an Invisible Workload (and Men Don’t) and How to Balance the Scales

Your to-do list? Hmmm, between work and kids and paying the bills and signing permission slips and making sure you have Cheerios in the pantry, it’s about a mile long. Your husband’s to-do list? According to him, there’s nothing super pressing that he needs to take care of right now. WTF?

Ladies, there’s an actual term for the disconnect: It’s called the invisible workload.

What’s an invisible workload? It’s basically the idea that, even though it’s 2020, women still have a tendency to be the ones who are mentally (and a lot of times physically) responsible for the bulk of the intellectual and emotional work that goes into both childcare and household tasks. In other words, just because you’re in an equal partnership doesn’t lift the pressure to remember—and execute—the details.

Can you give me an example? Let’s take your husband’s to-do list. It’s not that he doesn’t support you or want to help with your list that’s running a mile long. It’s more that he might not be anticipating future tasks—like the fact that you noticed you’re running low on toilet paper or need to get on your accountant’s calendar if you want to get your taxes done in a timely fashion—at the same speed at which your brain works.

OK, so what’s the solution? While you can’t fully control the mental to-do list your mind is creating at warp speed, you can make an effort to verbalize it better. Better yet, you can delegate. This may mean hanging Post-It notes that you both can visualize, then tackle together; picking three “invisible tasks” a week that you’d like to offload; or sending Google calendar reminders with to-dos and deadlines. Pretty much doing whatever it takes to clue your husband in.

Emotional weight, lifted. Your mental to-do list feels shorter already.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...