The mental load has met it's match thanks to this genius new way to divvy up tedious tasks at home.

By Jessica Hartshorn
December 06, 2019
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Fair Play by Eve Rodsky book cover
Credit: G.P. Putnam's Sons

It's an age-old conundrum: Who should do what? From scheduling playdates to emptying the dishwasher, there is plenty to do. And for many families, the solution is haphazard, with both parents tackling tasks as they arise, whack-a-mole style. But if one parent is more present or motivated, that approach can lead to serious imbalances. We probably don’t have to tell you that this calculus almost always leaves Mom with far more on her plate.

Enter Eve Rodsky, mother of three and author of Fair Play, a new book we’re loving, who has come up with a better system. Each partner should take complete ownership of separate tasks, just as people in a workplace divide duties.

“Men hate being nagged, and women hate holding everything in their brain,” Rodsky says. “Ownership eliminates those things.”

After realizing she was managing some 1,200 family to-dos (she made a spreadsheet of anything that took more than two minutes), Rodsky and her husband agreed he’d take certain things off her plate, starting with their kids’ sports stuff. Now he signs up for leagues and pays dues, gets and submits doctor forms, buys uniforms and equipment, puts games on the calendar, and after applying sunscreen to the kids, takes them to practice and games. Rodsky estimates it saves her up to eight hours a week, plus it builds trust (he’s on it!) and understanding (wow, she used to do all this?).

Her book calls all the typical tasks “cards” and helps you figure out how to deal them. (There are 100 in the book to get you started, and yes, writing them down on index cards is suggested.) Cards should include big daily things like packing lunches, school drop-off, dinner, laundry, and dishes, but also the tasks that often go unconsidered, such as communicating with your child’s school, planning vacations, or buying kids’ clothes.

Rodsky urges parents not to force a 50-50 split. Typically, one parent is home more or better suited to certain tasks. “Fair” division makes couples happier than “equal,” Rodsky has found, and what feels fair is different for everyone. But however you slice the pie, what matters most is that when each person is in charge of different duties, nobody is forced to keep every ball in the air. That’s a win for your marriage.

Parents Magazine