PHEW! I sit down in the driver seat, my blood pressure is pumping and I’m firing on all cylinders. No, I didn’t just survive a car crash. I finished getting our family packed for an overnight camping trip.

Can you relate?

For the non-moms out there, this is called the mental load. This is what makes us seem totally nuts and that we over-react to seemingly benign events. This is the invisible pressure we are under at all times.

And until our partners and family really understand what this pressure is like they are not able to relieve it. My husband was really supportive during the camping prep and he couldn’t understand why I felt I was carrying so much of the responsibility solo. (He is probably reading this and I love you! You inspired this email and gave me the solution that I know will finally relieve the pressure for so many.)

You see he asked, “How can I help?”.

Unfortunately, a helping hand doesn’t relieve the pressure of mental load. The only thing to relieve the pressure is task ownership. The owner of the load needs a way to shift some of the burden onto the person that’s offering assistance. So until we become mind readers, Zach actually reminded me of another incredible tool that can do the same thing. The checklist!

And before you write this off as too simple, NASA found it so important that they incorporated it right into astronaut’s clothing.

With the checklist, you have a response to the, “How can I help?”, question that doesn’t force you to stop what you’re doing and delegate. Simply hand over the checklist and everyone splits up the work. There’s no question of did you do X? or did we forget something?. It’s all right there.

Of course, this works in business too, but I’ve found it to be even more powerful on the home front. Packing the kids for a trip? Use the checklist. Getting ready for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Use the checklist. Off for a summer Saturday adventure? Use the checklist. (Sunscreen, shoes, hat, snacks, water, books for the car? CHECK.)

We currently have a checklist for camping trips, air travel trips, and Thanksgiving prep. We put it in Asana so we can access it anywhere, but I’m thinking of printing out a few copies so we can work off one without going back to our phones.

Do you use checklists at home? Do you have one you’ve been wanting to create? Let me know. I’d love to help you with it because simply, I’ve fallen in love. (And I’m happy to share the ones we created as a jumping off point.)

We’re off on another camping trip for the 4th and I know the cooking, packing, and children dressing will be much easier for me this time around because I’m not in charge. I’ve shifted the knowledge to the collective and we’ll get out the door together.

Happy 4th Everyone!