Can you think of a more emotional subject than how we divide up labor (both physical and mental) within a household? This is probably a topic right up there with religion and politics.
As I’ve dug into this issue over the years, I’ve come to learn more about why the topic of labor is so emotionally charged.
For starters, we get cultural messages (basically from birth) about who “should” be doing what. Second, there are all of our deeply personal and intimate family histories that affect how we feel about specific chores. None of us enters a relationship – and its attendant household – with a blank slate.
My husband and I have navigated this topic over the years by developing our own systems. Most notably, we’ve done this through our weekly meetings and our “Saturday basket” (with a “hot date” on the couch each Saturday evening!), as well as our tradition of Annual Planning Days.
But I’ve also been helped and inspired by things I’ve read along the way. There have been two books, in particular, that have helped me most on this division of labor question. The first is Eve Rodsky’s Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live). The second is Tiffany Dufu’s Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less. I consider both books to be mandatory reading for all working parents.
If you are looking for more resources on everything from how to think about the massive list of household chores that has to get done (or, as Eve Rodsky began by calling it, “the sh*t I do, list), how to start productive conversations with partners and family members, and ways to change the time narratives we tell within our families, keep reading!
Today, I’ve got 2 podcasts for you to listen to. And the opportunity to join me for 2 retreats on this incredibly important topic. One will be held in-person, and the other will be virtual.
2 Podcast Episodes to Listen to On the Division of Labor Topic
Some of you may know that I co-host a podcast with my husband, Jason Levin, called The Parents at Work Podcast. Our normal format is to pick an industry, role, or sector (like law, accounting, the arts, government relations, etc.) and interview some moms and then some dads in that field. We love being able to cross-pollinate ideas from different industries. We also enjoy seeing how much we all have in common as working parents, regardless of our roles.
This past month, though, we decided to veer off our usual pattern. This month, we decided to focus very specifically on the topic of how we divide up household physical and mental labor. Why? Because this is a topic that cuts across all industries. And one that is really important to the Mindful Return community.
This month’s Parents at Work episodes are two amazingly rich conversations. One from the perspective of a mom (ahem, the woman who wrote the book on this subject!). And the other from the perspective of a passionate and inspiring dad:
- Division of Household Labor, Interview with Eve Rodsky (author of Fair Play)
- Division of Household Labor, Interview with Sergio Rosario (founder of Soy Super Papa)
These conversations with Eve and Sergio are rich, intimate, funny, and so helpful. Please have a listen and let us know what you think. (Also, if you want the opportunity to interact with Eve, join me for a LIVE author talk with her on May 26, 2002, to discuss her newest book, Unicorn Space. Register here.)
2 Mindful Return “Fair Play” Retreats for You to Join
By reading Fair Play, I learned to look at tasks in a new way. One that involved seeing each chore or responsibility as having 3 parts – conception, planning, and execution. (Or, as Eve calls it, CPE.) Just being able to name the idea that things often go awry when the same person isn’t responsible for all 3 of these parts was so eye-opening.
Yes, it turns out that often we think we’re delegating a task…but in reality, we’ve only delegating the execution of it. So, we still wind up holding the mental load of conception and planning.
But I digress. In short, I was so inspired by the concepts Eve laid out in such a clear way in her book, that I decided to become a Certified Fair Play Facilitator. By going through this training, I’m now able to bring these incredibly helpful concepts and conversations to you in structured ways.
Two opportunities for you to dig into this Fair Play work with me (and with fellow Fair Play Facilitator, Alyssa Goodman, MSW!) this year are:
- An In-Person, Day-Long, Mindful Return “Fair Play” Retreat on Friday, September 23, 2022. How we divide household tasks and chores is a large point of stress for many working parents. As Certified “Fair Play Facilitators,” Lori Mihalich-Levin, JD, and Alyssa Goodman, MSW, will co-lead this day-long in-person retreat to dig deep into the time and fairness principles of Eve Rodsky’s book, Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live). This retreat will be held at The Journey Space in Glen Echo, MD (just outside of Washington, DC), from 10am-4:30pm Eastern on Friday, September 23, 2022. The cost is $250, which includes a nourishing and yummy lunch, and space is limited to 15 fully-vaccinated people. First come, first served. You can register here.
- A Virtual, 3-Hour Mindful Return “Fair Play” Retreat on Friday, November 4, 2022. How we divide household tasks and chores is a large point of stress for many working parents. As Certified “Fair Play Facilitators,” Lori Mihalich-Levin, JD, and Alyssa Goodman, MSW, will co-lead this half-day retreat that digs deep into the time and fairness principles of Eve Rodsky’s book, Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live). This half-day retreat will take place from 1:00-4:00pm Eastern on Friday, November 4. We’ll meet via Zoom, cultivate relationships with one another via breakout rooms, and limit the retreat to 3 hours given our ongoing Zoom fatigue. Cost is $125, and you can register here.
I promise that after our time together, you will be on a path to better dialog, deeper conversations, and less resentment within your home. I can’t wait to spend this time with you!
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave