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Ladies, this one is for you.

French cartoonist Emma recently struck a nerve with her web cartoon "Fallait demander/You should have asked". The comic shows a husband telling his overworked, exasperated wife that he would have been happy to help with the household duties—if she'd only asked. The upshot was something many intuitively know—that most of the time women carry an overwhelming proportion of the mental load in any household.

For example, while someone else may be willing to pick up toothpaste (if asked), you're the one who actually notices when you need toothpaste. Not to mention that you're the only one who probably knows what brand and flavor your kids/partner/own self likes. That thinking, knowing and planning add up.

If someone in the home is living with diabetes, the pressure is amplified. Prescriptions. Appointments. Blood sugar tests. Meal planning. And that's in addition to work and family life.

So, what can you do about it?

Make it visible. Since most of this effort is (literally) in your head, others in the family may not even be aware of it. Talk about the processes behind the tasks you'd like to hand off. If it's someone's task to make lunches, it can also be their task to make sure those lunches are planned and ingredients are purchased.

Expect more of others (and accept how they do it). Maybe things won't be done the same way you would do them—or even the "right way". You may have to lower your standards a bit. Dinner might not be as delicious. The linen closet may not look as neat as a retail shop. But as long as they know you'll swoop in and fix things, no one will try working things out themselves.

Lay some ground rules. The first one to open a dishwasher of clean dishes has to empty it. If someone uses the last of something and doesn't write it on the grocery list, it won't get purchased. No excuses. Of course, rules are easily broken, so consequences—like sending them directly to the store—can help.

Picture the worst that could happen. Is it really all that bad? If it's about managing diabetes, you may not be able to let go of the reins. But if it's about someone else's dry cleaning or homework supplies, well, they may only have to learn once.

Don't think of it as "help". The word "help" suggests they're just pitching in on your responsibilities. Fathers don't "babysit". Children aren't royalty. So change your perspective and the words you use. There's a good chance you'll often have too much on your plate. But any improvement is a step in the right direction.


Emma (2017). You should've asked. Retrieved from: Accessed August 19 2020.

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