Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live)

Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (And More Life to Live)
Author: Eve Rodsky
Published: 10/1/2019
A revolutionary, real-world solution to the problem of unpaid, invisible work that women have shouldered for too long--from a woman tapped by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine as the expert on this topic for a new generation of women.

Fair Play By. Eve Rodsky

Key Insights

When kids come into the picture, marriages can quickly change.

Many mothers end up doing more than their fair share. Not only are mothers often stuck with half the chores and their entire careers, but they are left to tend to their child’s every need.

In Eve Rodsky’s book, “Fair Play”, she explains how this is all too common in marriages. And, she uses her own experience as an example for her readers.

Rodsky describes the “second shift” that mothers usually pick up when they have kids which includes making lunches, helping with homework, doing extra laundry, etc. While husbands tend to stick to their day jobs, working only one shift.

Mothers also tend to be the emotional caretakers in the relationship, so her duties extend to soothing their children, sending birthday cards, and keeping up with the in-laws.

And, her mental to-do list consists of constant worries about whether or not she washed her son’s football jersey and if there is enough food for dinner.

“I believe in my core that this is the fundamental issue for women, for them to step into their full power in the world, and we have to invite men to step into their full power at home.”- Eve Rodsky

All of these things a woman does is often called “invisible work”. Rodsky explains why this invisible work is underappreciated and why household duties should be 50/50.

Key Points

  • The Second Shift Is Causing Unhappiness

Eve shares her experience living the second shift life as a mother. She would come home only to more work and it left her feeling overwhelmed. The stress of all the new demands was affecting her well-being. It took a toll on every single aspect of her life.

First, it affected her marriage. Mothers who do more housework than their partners oftentimes develop resentment toward their husbands. And because they are hustling solo, they feel isolated and alone. Studies confirm that women who do more housework than their husbands are less satisfied in their marriages.

The second shift also affects a woman’s mental health. It creates mental exhaustion. The Today Show website featured a survey that investigated the stress-level of moms in America. Out of 7,000 moms surveyed, the majority ranked their current stress-levels at 8.5 on a ten-point scale.

And, in correlation to the survey, it has been documented that women are diagnosed with anxiety disorders more often than men; more than twice as frequently! This only makes sense as nearly 80% of American women report that taking care of their families is too time-consuming, so they cannot take care of themselves too.

This second shift also has a negative effect on a mother’s career. The pay gap between mothers with children and without is actually bigger than that of the pay gap between men and women. But, why is that?

It is because the woman with children does not fit the company’s ideal employee, which would be someone who is free to focus on their job. Because women are at high-demand at home, they are often thought to be too scatter-brained for the workplace.

And, for each child a mother has, she has to pay a tax of 5-10%. On top of that, women with children do not get as many salary increases. So, having a child is really an economic risk for a career woman.

  • Value Time Equally in Your Marriage

A woman’s time and a man’s time should be equal. A man’s time is not worth more than a woman’s.

Rodsky tells a story about how her husband called her when he got home to tell her that someone had left garbage in the garden. Instead of disposing of it himself, he waited for her to get home to deal with it. Rodsky believes this was done because he thought his time could be better well-spent, but it was a good use of her time as a mother.

This is all too common in America. Men’s time is often seen as finite and valuable, while women’s time is seen as infinite.

But, childcare duties and household duties should be split equally between the two people in the marriage in order to ensure a healthy situation.

However, in order to move forward in an equal relationship, there are some myths you must debunk first.

The biggest one is that time is equal to money. This is not true. Men are often the moneymakers of the family. But, just because they are making the money doesn’t mean that their time is worth more. Taking a child to a doctor’s appointment is worth just as much, even if you are not getting paid.

“I believe 50/50 is the wrong equation because it sets us up for not only score-keeping but resentment when it’s not. Every household is different—it has to be fair for you. The good news is that data shows that perceived fairness is a better indicator of a happy marriage, over actual fairness or 50/50. So I just want women to get to a place where they perceive fairness, and that starts with ownership.”- Eve Rodsky

Time should be measured in hours, not dollars. You and your partner have the same number of hours in your day. So, everything should be equal and time should be seen as equally valuable.

  • Mothers Shouldn’t Give Up Who They Are

A lot of women’s identities are completely changed when they start having children. Women who were once passionate about their careers become too busy managing a household to focus on their dreams. These women were simply too exhausted to keep pushing forward when responsibilities were at such high demand.

And, many women feel guilty at the thought of pursuing their passions because they feel like they are putting themselves before their husbands and family.

One reason to keep your identity and keep up your passions is to stay “interesting”. Everyone can share news about their children and pets , but it’s important to have something you are excited to talk about when you’re at social gatherings such as a book you’re writing or a class you’re taking.

“Fair Play is really about setting new habits and about a redefinition of teamwork. So a team is going to work really well together if they start developing good habits early. It’s harder to change them later, and also harder to change them when you’re at a #10 on your resent-o-meter. I find that resentment grows with each child—I see that in my data. For most people, it gets worse after the second child is born, because most women can still manage and handle their career with one child, but when the second child comes, they really expect their husband to step up and oftentimes, that doesn’t happen.” - Eve Rodsky

In interviews Rodsky conducted, she discovered that men were more likely to take on domestic chores if it meant that their wives could continue pursuing their passions.

  • Understand Who Is Doing What

“When you start focusing on ownership the way we do with business, and we treat our home like our most important organization and bring rigor and respect to the home, things change.”- Eve Rodsky

The average American woman does more than their “fair share” of the household responsibilities. And, because of this Rodsky developed a card game to help understand it all.

Here’s how you play:

  1. Create 100 playing cards.
  2. The cards will all fit into 5 categories of domestic life. The first category is Home. For example, laundry, taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, making dinner, and dusting.
  3. Then, there is the Out category which would consist of things like getting the car serviced, grocery shopping, taking kids to and from school, etc.
  4. Then there is the Caregiving category. Examples of this would be toilet training, bedtime stories, bathing your child, etc.
  5. Then there is the Magic category. These are the tasks that bring joy and comfort to the family; examples include, party planning or talking to your child when they are sad.
  6. Then, of course, there is a Wild category. These include huge life events, both planned and unplanned. Good examples of this are the loss of a pet, a car breaking down, or moving to a new house.

After you have created all of your cards, deal them out to the person that usually handles those tasks and see who has more in their hand! This is a surefire way to visually see who is taking on more than their fair share.

  • Understand What Activities Matter To Whom

To continue playing the game, shuffle the cards and deal them out evenly to break up the domestic responsibilities.

No player should grab a card by default. If the wife is usually the one to make dinner, it doesn’t mean she has to be the one responsible for that task.

If there is a task that matters a lot to you, however, then it is safe to take that card. Especially if your partner does not care about the card.

It’s also important to take notice of the cards that you both do not really care about. Why are they there? Are they necessary? If they aren’t then simply remove them from the deck!

  • The Three-Step System

There are three parts to every domestic task:

  1. Conceiving
  2. Planning
  3. Executing

For example, if someone was to make dinner they would have to think of a meal, shop for the ingredients, and then cook it. Otherwise, the person just executing the dinner, or cooking it, would get all the credit.

According to Rodsky, the three parts should never be separated because it can lead to disaster. Taking the dinner example, if a woman sent her husband to the grocery store, instead of going herself, then she may end up with ingredients that go against her original dinner plan.

Main Take-Away

The average American woman does more than her fair share of household responsibilities and it can be damaging to her marriage, her career, and her well-being. But, by dealing out duties equally, you can have a “fair play” marriage.


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