New research has found that moms not only handle more than their fair share of household responsibilities, but they also bear the brunt of “invisible labor.” What is “invisible labor,” you might be wondering? You’re probably being subjected to it even as you read this.

A new study from Arizona State University notes that “invisible labor” refers the mental strain and stress that comes hand-in-hand with the never-ending checklist of motherhood. Everything from trying to remember to buy snacks for that soccer game to worrying about kids’ homework are examples of the daily stresses that moms face, all adding up to “invisible labor.”

photo: Tina Franklin via Flickr 

The study surveyed 400 American moms and found that 90 percent said they were the ones who kept track of their families’ schedules. Two-thirds of the women felt that they alone were responsible for their kids’ emotional well-being.

“It’s one thing to be responsible for pick-up and drop-off at practice. If it falls through, it’s not that bad. But if you’re responsible for making sure your child isn’t cutting themselves or falling into depression, and you feel like it’s only you that’s on vigil here, that’s got to be very onerous because the stakes are so high,” explained study senior author Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University.

So what can women do when they feel overwhelmed by these invisible tasks? Luther suggests they talk to their partners about it, but most importantly, she says it’s vital to carve out some personal time for yourself.

“As children need gentleness and acceptance, so do mothers. Women need to be replenished from the exhaustion. You need to have someone tend you and soothe you,” Luthar said.

—Shahrzad Warkentin



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