Eve Rodsky on Fair Play and How Moms Can Reclaim Their Time and Space
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When Harvard-trained lawyer and mom Eve Rodsky found herself crying in the car over a text about blueberries, she knew something had to change. The reality is women still face the bulk of invisible labor—the labor that comes with always being responsible for the household chores and, as mothers, the kids. But Eve Rodsky wants to help rebalance domestic roles.
On her quest to restore domestic balance in relationships, Rodsky has worked with hundreds of families on mediation, strategy and organization. In 2019, she published her first book Fair Play, which offers a new system to split domestic responsibilities and aims to help women reclaim their time and space.
Recently, she also launched a new card game for couples to play together to help rebalance household chores. It includes four simple rules and several task cards, which the couples will assign to one person to own completely. The goal? To free up more time and space for each to pursue their individual interests.
Here, Eve Rodsky talks to The Bump about how she came up with Fair Play, the launch of her new card deck and how women can take back time to focus on themselves.
I grew up in a single-mom household where early on I helped my mother manage eviction notices and helped take care of my little brother. I vowed that when I grew up, I would have an equal partner in life…and I did! I married that partner and we were killing it together in business and life.
Cut to two kids later and I find myself sobbing on the side of the road from a text my husband sent me: “I’m surprised you didn’t get blueberries.” As I sat in my car, I thought to myself: I used to manage a team of employees and now I can’t even manage a grocery list? And more importantly, when did I become the default, or what I call the “she-fault” for every single household and childcare task, including the fulfiller of my husband’s smoothie needs?
This is not the career + marriage combo deal I ordered! I am a Harvard-trained lawyer, and I’m trained to use my voice. I knew if this was happening to me, it must be happening to other women as well. In that moment, I knew something had to change. And so, I embarked on a quest to find a solution for domestic rebalance.
To learn more about the invisible work women do, you surveyed 500 diverse couples. Was there anything that surprised you or stood out to you?
What I uncovered after speaking with hundreds of women was that they were more satisfied in their marriages when their spouse did more of less. Meaning, their partners didn’t necessarily have to take on more household or childcare tasks, as long as they fully “owned” the tasks at hand from start to finish.
The solution was not to break everything down the middle—trying to have a relationship where everything is 50/50 encourages scorekeeping and easily fuels resentment. When you are able to hand over full ownership of a task your mental load lightens. When I say fully owning a task, I’m talking about from start to finish, the conception, planning and execution. In relationships where partners were taking on tasks from start to finish, the women felt like they had the full backing and trust of their partnerships and overall more confident relationships.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the life-changing magic of cleaning your junk drawer, but I think what is more important is the life-changing magic of long-term thinking. When I was pregnant, people often advised me to take things day by day, but it’s important to also question where you see yourself in 5, 10, or even 20 years. When you are a new mom, you are going to be very tired. But I think it’s important to try to reimagine what it really means to be tired as a parent.
T - Time all time is created equal
I - Imagination life-changing magic of long term thinking for you and your partner
R - Right to be Interesting reclaim your Unicorn Space
E - Expectations explicitly defined expectations to avoid the “she fault”
D - Double up avoid intensive togetherness by focusing on ownership of every task
The best thing you can do in your free time is to invest in your happiness trio. This includes self-care, adult friendship and Unicorn Space.
Self-care: It’s important to note when I say self-care I do not mean commodified wellness (like a CBD oil pedicure). Instead, take your dog on a walk, read a book or eat a pie. I signed up for a Bollywood hip hop dance class that I do weekly.
Adult Friendships: A night out with friends is about so much more than a cocktail. It’s about cultivating relationships that will support and sustain you along with boosting the health of your marriage. Nurturing friendships will reap huge dividends.
Unicorn Space: The active pursuit of what makes you, you. What interests do you have? Is there anything you are curious about? Start diving into things that you find interesting. That’s how Fair Play started! Some examples of this could be writing a book, baking a fancy dessert, or training for a marathon. Take at least an hour a week to focus on your Unicorn Space and then have an end goal to share it with the world (friends, family, social media, etc).
Sleep training!! The Tot Clock is a perfect tool to help your kids know when it’s time to sleep. From the age of one they will know that they have to sleep until the clock turns yellow!
Today, women still do most of the invisible labor at home. How do you hope Fair Play and the launch of the new card deck will impact the conversation?
How do we make the invisible, visible? Change starts in the home. The Fair Play system offers an easy way to approach an age-old problem. Fair Play is ultimately about context, not the control. It’s about speaking your values and coming up with what’s reasonable. It’s very different from handing over a list, it’s a system. The cards offer an easy and fun way to approach the conversation with your partner and kids. You can turn it into a game! When everyone in your family is helping each other to take on domestic labor, it opens up time that you may never have had before.
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