After the Mothers’ Forum spent today’s Zoom meeting discussing the invisible labor of working moms, we thought it might be helpful to explore the issue further by focusing on Eve Rodsky’s “Fair Play,” both by screening her documentary and reading the book. All members are welcome to join either or both events, regardless of whether they have read the book or instituted the system suggested by the author.
Eve Rodsky, a Harvard trained expert in organizational management, wants couples to work together to rebalance the domestic workload, and reexamine the value of unpaid labor and care. The goal of “Fair Play” is to help couples prioritize what’s important to their families and determine who should take the lead on each task, using a four-rule card “game” system. In the author’s mind, “winning” the game means rebalancing your home life, reigniting your relationship with your significant other, and reclaiming or developing the skills and passions that keep you interested and interesting. Learn more about the book at https://www.fairplaylife.com/the-book.
The game starts with 100 task cards that break down the domestic “ecosystem”. Review the cards for free here https://www.fairplaylife.com/the-cards. Each family should review the cards and decide what is “in play” for your family. For example, not every family writes thank you cards after holidays, and not every family goes to church (so those families would exclude “thank you notes” and “spirituality” cards from their deck). Building your deck together allows you to prioritize things as a couple, and explain to each other why certain things are (or are not) important to you. Couples will decide who holds each card (note, cards can and should be “re-dealt” so this isn’t permanent), and holding the card means you Conceive, Plan, and Execute every aspect of the card (or “CPE” for short). CPE is the antidote for partners asking “what can I do to help?” and texts from your partner (asking “what should the kids have for lunch?” or “where is the sunscreen?”) while you’re out, and things falling through the cracks because “I thought I asked you to do it.” Instead, each partner has predetermined actions that they are responsible for from start to finish. It means knowing what goes into the running of the household, thinking ahead, and owning your own tasks. Couples will also work together to develop a Minimum Standard of Care (“MSC”) for each card, to decide what is reasonable in their home (For example, does packing kids lunches mean over the top, nutritionally dense bento boxes with love notes? Or is a PB&J ok?) There are four rules for play, and lots of guidance/examples/troubleshooting tips.
Julie Birk, who came up with this topic for the Mothers’ Forum, enjoyed reading the book, and though she hasn’t fully instituted the system into her own life, she felt so “seen” when she was reading, and it started some really useful discussions in her household/marriage. She highly recommends reading it, no matter how “equal” your partnership is, and no matter how “domestic” and “helpful” your partner is. At the very least, it addresses the societal issues we face when women do 2/3 or more of the unpaid domestic work and childcare for their homes and families, EVEN IF THEY ALSO WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME. Julie’s only complaint is that setting up the system seems really daunting to an already over-whelmed, working mom. But based on the testimonials from spouses (default and otherwise), setting this up appears to be highly worth it in the end, but the initial effort is significant.
The book can be purchased at Eve Rodsky’s website above, or even borrowed at your local library. Ms. Rodsky also wrote a second book called “Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too Busy World,” a topic which is briefly discussed in “Fair Play.” Please mark your calendars, and we will circulate more information as we get closer to particularly the screening.