I love Parks and Recreation. The holiday they invented, Treat Yo’Self Day (October 13), is hilariously overstated and yet there is, as always, a grain of truth in their humor. This Valentine’s Day, I am going to do something different. I am going to combine a holiday that frankly depresses me with a holiday I think is hilarious but have never celebrated. My first act of celebration? I’m going to urge myself as well as those I love to treat yo self to some knowledge. Read more
2020 taught us many difficult, gritty lessons, but one that stands out is that women are expected to do too much. It’s destroying our professional lives, our mental health, and our relationships.
With the amount of work on our plates already, resolutions can be tricky. If you are going to channel energy into something this year, why not work toward making your household more equitable? Here are a few tips that we’ve gathered along the way.
- Remember, you’re a team. Instead of attacking each other, attack the issue of all the tasks that need to be done. A data-driven approach to tracking your work can come in handy here. Know your enemy. Psst…it isn’t each other.
- Educate your partner. Part of the burden of domestic chores is that they’re never-ending. Some men weren’t raised to know all of the work that goes into maintaining a household. Let them in on the invisible work, not just the visible stuff. Tend: Task Manager & Journal is a free mobile app with a comprehensive list of care tasks. Couples can use it to track their work and compare notes – not to scold one another, but to get a realistic picture of who is doing what in the family.
- Try to balance the amount of housework and childcare each partner is doing. It’s helpful to have no kids underfoot when making dinner, but it’s a drag when one person always gets to play with the kids, and the other one has to make a meal the kids will probably refuse to eat. Another example is bathtime versus cleaning up after dinner. One task allows for meaningful time with the kids, and the other is time alone angrily scrapping barbecue sauce off the underside of the table. Be thoughtful about trading off on these tasks.
- Examine daily routes (if you still have them outside the home). What businesses do you both pass on the way to work? If one of you passes a supermarket that also happens to be ten minutes from home, can that person do the grocery shopping? Does the other person drive by a gas station? Perhaps they can make sure everyone has gas (that is if you can handle switching cars for one day a week, or however often you need gas). Where are the kids’ schools/daycares, Target or Walmart, dry cleaners? You see the point. Be efficient. Why have someone make a special trip when you’re already passing it twice a day?
- Let them take the credit. Research shows that some men will more readily perform domestic tasks if the tasks are public in nature. They may balk at doing dishes, but they will drop kids off/pick kids up from school or weekend activities. Some men will even willingly take on birthday party duty! It’s not great that society gives men a gold star for being active parents, but we may as well use all of the tools in our toolbox, right?
- Challenge gender stereotypes in your home. Watching the bumbling dad on the Disney Channel isn’t just annoying — it’s perpetuating the helpless dad/maternal gatekeeping binary that ends with mom doing everything and dad doing nothing. Gender roles are deeply entrenched, so if you want to have an equal partnership, you’ve got to work at it and model it for your kids. A great resource for splitting tasks more equitably is Eve Rodsky’s excellent book, Fair Play.
- Enlist the whole family. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again — Family Meeting. Get everyone together with a list of tasks. Assign or negotiate each task and then check in regularly to see how everyone is doing. This includes kids. If you want men who know how to clean a toilet, you will have to raise them. Have snacks. No booze.
- Express your personal preference. Not enough is said about sitting down and deciding who likes to do what. One person might have a secret love of vacuuming while another loves to weed flowerbeds. Conversely, someone might loath folding and putting away laundry. Keep the communication going by checking in regularly. Switch things up every once in a while and trade a dreaded task for something you haven’t done in a bit.
- Ask for what you need. In the Bringing Baby Home Training Course at the Gottman Institute, Julie Gottman says, “Describe what you do need, as opposed to what you don’t need.” This seems simple, but it’s an art. Some women will say, “I don’t need another kid to raise!” or “I need help!” The first statement is stating what you don’t need, and the second statement is too vague. What DO you need from the other person? All trash is regularly removed from the home without step-by-step instruction. All clothing removed from the physical body put into the hamper provided. This tactic might seem ridiculously specific, but for some couples, specificity is necessary and helpful. Be specific, not sarcastic.
- Drop the ball. Last-ditch effort: stop doing the chore you know they will do if it doesn’t get done. You might not like how it gets done, but it will get done. Slowly add chores until it seems equal, or they finally speak up and agree to negotiate. Tiffany Dufu writes about her experience with this technique in her book, Drop the Ball.
2020 was filled with heartache and uncertainty. It was hard for everyone, but it’s really taken a toll on mothers. We’re here to propose some mindfulness for moms in the new year.
Women have been forced out of the workforce at four times the rate of men, with an estimated cost of $64.5 billion a year in lost wages and economic activity. That’s $64.5 billion a year from individual women’s bank accounts, all so that we can do more unpaid work in our homes.
Those are big picture numbers, but we know that real moms in real households across the country are struggling. Whether you’ve always been a stay-at-home mom, you’ve been forced into it, or you’re still working and trying to balance it all – we’re thinking about you.
It’s easy to be compassionate for other moms that we see suffering. It’s much harder to apply compassion to ourselves. It may feel like you’re not accomplishing as much. The truth is that you are doing far more than ever before. The work that you’re doing is so vital. You’re keeping your families safe and cared for during a pandemic. So how can you know how much more you’re doing? Engage in some practical mindfulness by keeping track of your unpaid work.
Tend: Task Manager & Journal is a tracking app for moms that delivers knowledge, confidence, self-worth, and understanding by tracking the invisible labor of motherhood. You already track many of the important things to you; your baby’s milestones, menstrual cycles, and household expenses. Tracking your work can give you the confidence to see that you’re doing a great job. It can also offer insights to help make better decisions about how you spend your time.
This January, instead of setting unrealistic resolutions, we invite moms to recognize just how much they do to care for their families. Use Tend to track your caregiving work and tell us about it. Tag @tendtaskmanagerandjournal across social media and use the #MYWORKHASVALUE hashtag. We want to hear and share your stories. Let’s offer ourselves a little more kindness and mindfulness for moms in the New Year.
Far be it from me to argue with well meaning humans encouraging us to use this time to improve our minds by learning a new language or writing a book. That being said, I think you should watch whatever dumb garbage you want. No need for self-improvement, you’re fine just as you are. I mean, if you want to learn a language or write a book, do that. We’re all here just trying to get through. No judgment. Read more
Something about the quarantine life unleashed a darkness in Helene Skantzikas. It insidiously snatched joy and plunged her into the depths of hopelessness. Nothing and everything has changed in her life in the last three months: she lives at home with her mother and her son. Same as before, but everything is different. Read more
Someone needs to come over to my house and remove all the news apps from my phone. I am just scaring myself with them. No one has scarier maps than The New York Times. All that red pulsing out from city centers and swallowing the rest of America.
There’s no good news right now but I keep checking to see how bad it’s gotten. Am I helping or hurting myself? I think if I check too often or spend too much time it can be harmful. That being said, this is no time to wallow in ignorant bliss. Read more
Introvert’s Social Distancing Log, Day 1, Saturday, March 14, 2020 (so many commas, probably too many)
Well, my good intentions of getting up early, showering and eating breakfast before 9AM were shot to hell when I snorted myself awake at 10:15.
In the evening, before I fall asleep, I think myself capable of all sorts of miraculous behavior. A healthy breakfast, an ecologically minded 5 minute shower, taking time to brush my hair and apply mascara and eyeliner.
Morning me is unshowered, a banana flavored kid yogurt eaten while driving (uncomfortably eaten with the only clean spoon in the house which is those dreadful serrated grapefruit spoons), ratty hair swept up in a lopsided bun and needless to say, no makeup. Read more
Here are 5 movie series (and a couple of lists of movie series) to watch while practicing social distancing. Once this is over, I think we are all going to realize that we don’t hate each other as much as we thought we did. We might very well become lonely for each other. Who knows, stranger things have happened. After 8 years of drought here in Southern California, I don’t know anyone who complains when it rains. Before the drought, the entire region lost their minds when it rained and now everyone smiles and points at the sky and happily chirps, “It’s raining!”
Well, I’ve stress shopped and stocked my house. I did not overbuy toilet paper but I do have 3 dozen eggs. We all have our weaknesses. Six is out of school for three weeks and I am trying to get Older Son to come home but thus far to no avail. I do want Older Son home but what I really want is his dog, Barbara. Barbara will let me cuddle and coo and fuss and fidget over him whereas my kids won’t.
In lieu of Barbara the Dog, I have turned to TV, movies and books. And it occurred to me that there are people who have been living full, productive lives and might not have a list of books, TV and movies they want to watch. So I thought I’d make some lists and share them. Let’s start with movies in a series. Read more
What the hell are we doing here? Well, a little history wouldn’t be amiss… Read more