WRITTEN BY Felicia Kashevaroff
Our absolute favorite book on household equity is Kate Mangino’s Equal Partners – Improving Gender Equality at Home. In the book, Mangino interviews a diverse group of forty men who are walking the walk when it comes to gender equality. The EP40, as she calls them, are partners who actively show up in their relationships with the same dedication as their counterparts. The beauty of this book is that it approaches the concept of gender equality in the home by examining what works for successful couples.
The book contains interesting facts, anecdotal stories, and valuable tips. We’ll dig into this book again and again in our discussion about household equity, but we want to start by introducing a brilliant exercise Mangino suggests toward the end of the book. She calls this exercise “Noticing Time.”
Mangino does this exercise with her children as a way to teach them to be aware of their household surroundings, but we think it’s a wonderful way for couples to learn about each other and what they prioritize in their environment, so we’ve modified it slightly for adult couples.
Here is how to do it.
- Set a timer for 20 minutes and go through your home noticing everything that needs doing, big or small.
- Take notes along the way.
- Come back together and share your list with your partner.
- Listen with curiosity and without judgment. DO NOT criticize your partner for noticing different things than you noticed.
- Ask questions about why certain things stood out for them and share why other things are a priority for you.
If you noticed some of the same things, great! You can agree that you align with your standards of care on those things. If you noticed different things, also great! You now have a greater insight into your partner’s thought process around household tasks. Take note of each other’s priorities and do your best to acknowledge what is important to your partner.
Consider transferring your notes into a shared list of tasks in Tend Task: Household Organizer. Discuss who will manage each task and how you can support one another in the process. Try to be conscious of how long each task will take and allocate those tasks equitably. Also, note which are recurring, or routine tasks and which are intermittent, or special projects.
This could be a terrific weekly exercise to incorporate into your routine as you plan the week ahead. Integrate the knowledge you gain from your partner over time to influence what you notice around the house. Let us know how it works for you!