by Eve Rodsky
Eve Rodsky is the New York Times best-selling author and wrote this piece just for us. For the book, Eve interviewed more than five hundred couples, from all walks of life, to figure out what the invisible work in a family actually is and how to get it done efficiently.
It’s that special time of year. Remember to take some time for yourself. Don’t overdo it. Treat yourself to dinner with a friend, a weekend getaway, an extra hour at the gym. Hold up! When was the last time a well-meaning friend, family member, co-worker or even your therapist, made a recommendation like this? And your reaction went something like: It’s December, people! On top of everything else that needs to get done between now and the end of the year, who has me-time? Adult friendships, self-care and engaging in the interests that make you uniquely you (what I call: Unicorn Space) are all imperative additives to our lives. They’re vital to our longevity, individual contentment and happy partnerships. The problem is that both women and men are unlikely to make time for this “Happiness Trio” until we lighten and more fairly share the household load.
Picture this: when you’re stuck making school lunches at ten o’clock at night and you still have a dozen cookies in the oven and three teacher gifts to wrap, you probably aren’t going to start that vision board for your new business idea before heading to bed. As one woman wrote on Instagram: “Thanks for the reminder to schedule some self-care. I’ll be sure to add that to the long list of other sh*t I don’t have time to get done.” According to findings from Natsal-3, 21.2% of married women aged 16–74 reported “not sharing enough housework” as a reason for live-in partnership breakdown (i.e., divorce). Don’t let that be you! And especially before the holiday!
My advice: In the spirit of domestic rebalance, efficiency and more harmony, take a few steps towards creating a time and sanitysaving holiday season.
#1: Grab hold of this mantra, I do not have to do it all. Rather than doing more, or continuing to believe that you should do it all, save yourself from burnout and instead take an honest inventory of what you and your family most value this time of year. You really have to ask yourself: what is most important? Sit down with your partner and make intentional choices about how you want to spend them together as a couple, or as a family. You can begin to lighten your load by taking things off the table that aren’t relevant or creating more satisfaction in your lives. Give yourself permission to do less.
#2 : Get granular for all domestic and childcare tasks you and your partner deem valuable.
A. Delineate and assign full ownership of those tasks (Who’s planning the holiday meal?)
B. Set clearly defined expectations and standards (Let’s agree on the menu based on preferences, dietary restrictions and budget. Aunt Patty is dairy-free and Uncle Jim can’t have salt. Gravy is out! The kids would each like their own towering dessert, and God bless ‘em, they can fund that effort themselves.)
C. Establish a measurement of accountability (Did all necessary items get purchased or ordered—and ideally, not left until the night before guests arrive?)
D. Communicate regularly (Let’s continue to talk about the most efficient way to fairly delineate and assign responsibilities, so that all hell doesn’t break loose and end in a food fight. Deal?)
Once you’ve systemised the domestic workload and are playing for more time equality and enhanced efficiency, you and your partner will both have more room for The Happiness Trio. And without the resentment! Now, that’s worth celebrating. ■
Fair Play by Eve Rodsky.
Available in bookstores and online now