CANDID: Eve Rodsky
Eve Rodsky is the author of New York Times Best Selling book Fair Play. Her research and expertise were born from her ‘Sh*t I Do List,’ all of the unpaid, invisible tasks and work she completed for her family. She sent this list to her husband, only to receive an underwhelming response. Eve realized that simply identifying the issue of unequal labor on the home front wasn’t enough: She needed a solution to this universal problem. Her sanity, identity, career and marriage depended on it. And thus, Fair Play came to life. Actress Reese Witherspoon learned about Eve and her research, which bridged a partnership by way of her book club, Hello Sunshine.
What are you doing to keep your kids engaged throughout the day while you’re all at home, and how are you approaching your work? Through Fair Play, Seth and I have redefined teamwork through 1.) communicating when emotion is low, and cognition is high; 2.) ownership and 3.) trust. Effective communication is an ongoing practice that needs redirection and refinement until you achieve what feels equitable and fair. It requires accountability and trust. Having to remind your partner to do something doesn’t take that something off of your list. It adds to it. It’s not a partnership if only one of you is running the show, which means making the important distinction between delegating tasks and handing off ownership of a task. Ownership belongs to the person who first off remembers to plan, plans, and then follows through on every aspect of executing the plan and completing the task without reminders. We must trust our partners to ‘own’ a task … that’s taking accountability.
How are you lifting your spirits and keeping sane in the midst of this new normal? Quite possibly, the silver lining of shelter-in-place may be an uptick in creativity and self-discovery. I continue to hear the most inspiring stories from men and women all over the country who are finding or reclaiming their ‘Unicorn Space’ in social isolation. In my book, I describe Unicorn Space as the active pursuit of what makes you uniquely you and how you purposefully share it with the world (i.e. baking a pie for a neighbor).
Even in small doses — which is all most of us have right now — Unicorn Space is essential to your ongoing sense of self, the health of your partnership, and your ability to model what a full and meaningful life looks like to your children, friends, colleagues and your community. Tapping into that ‘thing’ that makes each of us come alive is vital to our mental health and our sense of self. Having Unicorn Space will make or break our longevity. Even if only for 5 to 10 minutes every day, I engage in an activity (beyond household responsibilities) that feels meaningful to me and brings me joy. Today it is contributing to this article. Continue to rebalance the division of labor in your home so that you and your partner both schedule time for Unicorn Space into your calendar.
How are you staying connected with your loved one during social distancing? The need for ‘spiritual friends’ as I call them is at an all-time high. I have a wonderful group of college friends, and I treat our Zoom calls and texts as an investment in my mental health. This weekend, we are all doing a Family Feud Zoom to connect as families.
What is your ultimate stay at home garment that’s giving you confidence and comfort? I live in The Great sweatshirts. They are professional enough for Zoom but comfy enough to sleep in!
How are you reinventing your Mother’s Day this year? I don’t know a mom out there who couldn’t benefit from more time. And at the risk of sounding like a mom who repeats herself, here I go (again): All time is created equal. In my research for Fair Play, I found that men, women and society view men’s time as finite (like diamonds) and women’s time as infinite (like sand). You and your partner each only have 24 hours in a day, and each of those hours hold value.
This Mother’s Day, I am making intentional choices about how I spend my valuable and finite time. And if I may offer a suggestion to your readers — clarify for yourself and then clearly communicate your feelings and needs to your partner ahead of time (i.e. before you both wake up Sunday morning to kids demanding breakfast). If you’re like the majority of women who juggle nearly 75 percent of the unpaid work required to run a home and a family and now, adding in homeschooling and routinely disinfecting the entire house, the idea of carving out personal time may sound like a fever dream (even on a national holiday promoted as a ‘celebration’ of you). And you’re right. It will remain a nice-to-have fantasy until you reframe it as a must-have reality … and this requires a conversation between you and your partner that your time is as valuable as diamonds.
Laura Katherine Sawyier is a women’s personal and wardrobe stylist and founder of the SALON X LKS event series. She is based in St. Louis and New York City.