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Comparing Chores: The Mental and Physical load

Updated: Jun 3

How Couples Can Partner to Tackle Household Chores

Some spouses have different types of careers.

One spouse might have a mentally demanding career, such as managing projects and people from a laptop.

The other spouse might be a construction worker whose daily tasks are physically demanding. Both end their work days wiped out but in different ways.

Managing your home as a team: How to divide the mental and physical load

One solution to consider when dividing the household chores is for the spouse who ends the day mentally wiped out to tackle the more physically demanding chores.

The other spouse, who is physically wiped out from work, would own more household tasks with a heavier mental load.

It's important to point out that I chose a Venn diagram for a reason. Nearly every task carries a mental and physical load but to varying degrees. Equally important is to recognize that the household management system, such as Fair Play, must consider many different factors.

What is the mental load?

The mental load is the invisible burden of household management that often goes unnoticed yet weighs heavily on many individuals. This concept encapsulates the cognitive labor involved in coordinating and managing the various tasks and responsibilities required to maintain a household. The mental juggling act of remembering, planning, and organizing the myriad of chores and responsibilities keeps a home running smoothly.

While physical chores like doing the laundry or washing dishes are tangible and visible, the mental load encompasses the often-overlooked aspect of planning, delegating, and remembering these tasks. It's the mental gymnastics of keeping track of grocery lists, scheduling appointments, managing budgets, and anticipating the needs of family members.

In essence, the unseen work often falls disproportionately on one individual within a household, typically women, though not exclusively.

Examples household chores that heavily rely on the mental load

Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

Planning meals for the week, considering each family member's dietary restrictions, preferences, and nutritional needs, requires significant mental effort.

Managing Family Schedules

Coordinating appointments, extracurricular activities, and social commitments for multiple family members is no small feat. It involves keeping track of everyone's schedules, ensuring no conflicts, and making necessary arrangements for transportation or childcare.

Financial Management

Budgeting, paying bills, and managing household finances entail a significant mental load, which includes tracking expenses, setting financial goals, and deciding about investments.

Emotional Labor

Emotional labor includes providing emotional support to family members, mediating conflicts, and managing household dynamics.



What is the physical load?

The physical load encompasses the sheer physical exertion required to complete various chores and responsibilities. The muscle-straining, back-breaking work keeps a home functioning yet often goes unnoticed or undervalued.

Examples household chores that heavily rely on the physical load

Deep Cleaning

Scrubbing floors, showers, bathtubs, and windows requires significant physical effort. The repetitive motions involved in scrubbing and the need to apply force to remove dirt and grime can quickly wear down the body.

Yard Work

Maintaining a tidy and well-kept outdoor space involves mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, and raking leaves.

Home Repairs and Maintenance

Tackling DIY home improvement projects or performing repairs around the house often requires physical dexterity and strength. Whether you're painting walls, hammering nails, or fixing plumbing issues, these tasks can be physically demanding.


Caring for young children involves many physically demanding tasks, from lifting and carrying infants to chasing after toddlers.

By fostering a culture of shared responsibility and mutual support within households, we can ensure that consideration is given to the mental and physical load of each spouse's daytime responsibilities.

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