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283: Empowering Children to Participate in Essential Matters at Home (with coach and author Lori Sugarman-Li)

Housework. Homemaking. Chores. Whatever you call it, it’s hard work to maintain a safe, clean house, and it’s made so much harder by how the expectations around that work. So many moms, whether they’re employed outside the home or not, find themselves in charge of a lot more of those household tasks than their kids or their partners. If we’re going to change those expectations we have to change the way we talk with our kids about the labor that’s so often invisible to them. Coach and author Lori Sugarman-Li has written an amazing kid’s book that will help you have those conversations, and turn housework into a full-family collaboration. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The mindset shift that will help you see the value of including your kiddos in household upkeep. 
  • The kind of communication and compromise that will help your family express gratitude for your household and take pride in the work of maintaining it.
  • How the health and well-being of women around the world are made worse by the invisible labor they disproportionately shoulder.

And much more! 

As always, thanks for listening. Head over to Facebook, where you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community. We post tips and tools and do pop-up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

Randi’s Web and Social Links

About Our Guest

Lori Sugarman-Li believes deeply in the power of families and is a passionate voice in the cultural shift aiming to articulate the value and visibility of unpaid work. She is dedicated to fostering meaningful conversations within families, encouraging them to contemplate how they care for one another and their shared space. Lori’s book Our Home: The Love, Work & Heart Of Family is available for pre-order at https://ourhomeourpride.com/my-childrens-book. Her website is https://ourhomeourpride.com/, and she’s on Instagram @ourhomeourpride

Links & Resources

Thanks so much for listening to the Mastermind Parenting podcast, where we support the strong willed child and the families that love them!

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Transcription

Audio MMP 283

[00:00:00] Randi Rubenstein: and I guess speaking to what you help families figure out is once my kid, once I have drivers. I’m like, remember, we’re hosting a holiday, so all hands on deck, you, you’ve got these errands, you’re in charge of this thing. Like, I’m not running myself ragged while people sit around, like, saying they’re bored, and when does it start, and what do they have to wear? I’m like, we’re all gonna be helping out here. 

[00:00:27] Lori Sugarman-Li: And in the process, you’re empowering your kids. You’re letting them know that you trust them. They’re a part of important things for the family, and they are going to feel pride when people walk through the door and they know what their contributions were.

[00:00:44] Randi Rubenstein: My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. At Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. 

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week. I am here with the amazing Lori Sugarman, and we’re going to have a really great conversation. I already know we’re going to have a great conversation that every single mom, I say mom, I know, that has heard me use the term pack leader, and that you are the leader of your pack, like every pack leader mom or pack leader wannabe mom, I think you’re going to love this conversation and this is going to be a must listen because this is about invisible mom jobs. 

We’re going to, we’re going to unpack what it means to all this, this term, invisible mom jobs and how Lori is going to teach us how to get other people to do some, if not, like, I don’t even know. I don’t want to say most, but how we can lighten our loads and stop doing all the damn things all the time and drain, draining our batteries and ruining our health,

[00:02:02] Lori Sugarman-Li: That’s it. 

[00:02:03] Randi Rubenstein: and um, walking around the world exhausted. So thank you so much being here today.

[00:02:08] Lori Sugarman-Li: I’m so happy to be with you.

[00:02:09] Randi Rubenstein: First of all, will you give your Instagram handle? Because people need to go on your Instagram and read the, I mean, the things you’re putting out there. I’m like, okay, how do we teach, how do we recondition all of our husbands to be like Kevin?

[00:02:25] Lori Sugarman-Li: Oh my gosh, shout out, Kevin. Um, well it’s a, it’s, it’s a journey. The first thing I’ll say is it’s, it’s not, you know, the flipping of a light switch, it’s, it’s a journey and it’s a lot of conversations and it is a hearkening back to, um, foundational elements like family values and family goals and reflecting on how your family moves through everyday life and being honest and open as you just said about your wellness and, and implications to how you are feeling as the pack lead.

Um, and also talking about so much of what we understand now to be, the benefits of involvement. We actually have research, right? Not to jump ahead. There’s so much to talk about, but we have research that shows men’s wellness is positively impacted by their involvement in the work of care. We have research that shows that children as young as three benefit thrive in their, in future iterations of themselves from having been involved in chores and the work of the home. So there’s so much we know, um, that we can begin to dialogue with our families that lead to this increased equitable, um, increased level of family of wellness.

[00:03:48] Randi Rubenstein: I wrote down this term, um, so. Okay. First of all, what’s your Instagram handle? How do people find you?

[00:03:55] Lori Sugarman-Li: So it’s @ourhomeourpride, and I want to say right off when I talk about pride, it’s not about a pride in perfection. It’s about a pride, as we often define it now, of feeling safe and happy in your own space because it’s on your own terms, founded in your own values, and without fear of judgment by other standards.

[00:04:19] Randi Rubenstein: Hmm. Hmm. I love that. I love that. I used to say to my kids, we would, I would be like five minute cleanup. Um, a lot of times we would do that, like when I was staying home before my husband would come home from work. 

Um, cause he would walk in. And I’m, he’s got a more highly sensitive nervous system than I do. I didn’t know it at the time, younger me didn’t know that terminology, but I knew that when he came in, all of a sudden there was like a tension in the air. 

And for me, when I grew up, I basically, I rotted on the couch, like that was my childhood. We watched TV and, um, and that’s what we did. And so I was like, okay, my kids are gonna, they’re gonna play, they’re gonna be alive. We’re not going, although they did do a decent amount of rotting on the couch watching TV when I needed a break. But whenever there was toys, like all around, I was like, they played. Yeah, it’s beautiful. You know,

[00:05:19] Lori Sugarman-Li: Beautiful.

[00:05:20] Randi Rubenstein: beautiful, they played. But he would walk in and where I looked at the toys everywhere and thought, we just had a really successful day playing and having fun. And he, it would send him into a state of dysregulation in his body. And so like transitioning from work to home, what I learned, you know, over the years was it took him a minute to transition from home, you know, back to back into home mode. And if he walked in, and it didn’t need to be spick and span, but if it just wasn’t like a freaking tornado had just hit,

[00:06:03] Lori Sugarman-Li: Mm hmm. Mhmm. 

[00:06:05] Randi Rubenstein: it was like, I got a calmer version of him. So, so over. Probably, we probably had had several fights and, um, where I was like, you know, like, what the fuck is wrong with you? Like, there’s children, they’re playing, like, what do you want? And finally we would be civilized and we would have a, you know, a productive conversation. 

And then I realized, oh, well, you know what? We’re going to do five minute cleanup before he gets home. And so I turned it a little bit into a game and I sort of, it was like, we were a team and I’d be like, I would be like, guys, he just called. He’s on his way.

[00:06:40] Lori Sugarman-Li: Countdown. I love 

[00:06:43] Randi Rubenstein: it.

Right. And so, um, and I was like, can we do it in five minutes? And so we kind of turned it into a game and everyone would, you know, everyone took part and everyone was cleaning up and you know, after we would do it, I would say to them things like, look at us, you know, I’d high five ’em or something. And I’m like, I’m like, we’re the kind of people who take pride in our home. Like, look at us, we take care of our things, it’s like, it’s kind of awesome. 

And it was the same thing, it was like, be the kind of person who takes pride in your space where you live, how you live, how you present yourself and also just like that you, you know, that, that you’re grateful for this beautiful life that we get to live. And so that was, you know, I never really thought about why I use that language, but I love hearing you say pride.

[00:07:36] Lori Sugarman-Li: You just said so many important things, and I’ve been scribbling madly over here. I want to touch on all of them. Um, but the, the first really important thing you said that is so foundational to how we approach this truly vast scope of unending work, right? That we do to guide the flow of our family, is understanding that we are all, even in our little family unit, we are all wired so differently and we thrive in different types of spaces. And so the fact that we share a home or an apartment or whatever it is, we still have to understand that one standard does not necessarily always fit all. And that’s why these conversations, fundamental conversations about values. 

And you were saying, you know, it took you so many years to learn this about your husband, but imagine a time where, like he actually just told you from the very start, you know? Oh, no, this is like, this is what it’s like for me. This is what it feels for me. And actually this is how I would feel better. So could we talk about how to do it that way? Right. And so understanding and being able to express and honor the wirings of your, of your family members and create family standards that reflect their needs is so powerful.

I am a very Type A person. I love the neat and tidy. I love everything picked up. I do also really love how you said though that like, a full floor of toys is such a successful day. So I do love that too. 

Um, but my son, my 13 year old, he thrives in an environment that is very nostalgic. He loves to be surrounded by the things that matter to him. He wants to have them out on all the surfaces so that he can connect with them and look at them and pick them up and put them down and he’s got, you know, like a Lego airplane that he made seven years ago and like a note that he got from a friend of his from England and all these things. And so for me to go in there and say, no, no, no, like this needs to be put away. He doesn’t thrive in that. 

So we have conversations where he expresses to me, no, no, like I want to have these things everywhere. And then from there we build a standard for whatever that, you know, perfection is for him, right? Whatever the ideal state is for him. So it’s not everything put away all the time, but it’s like, lifted and dusted, you know, every week or whatever it is that works for him. Um, and just the opportunity to honor that in each other. 

Um, and then you use the word gratitude, which is exactly at the core of, of all of the messaging that I’m trying to share, which is, you know, we use this word chore to categorize and describe this work that we take on as a family. And it is a lot, and it is exhausting, but ultimately it’s the work of nourishing and nurturing and creating environments that are safe, healthy, and adhering to community and municipal standards and protecting our investments, right? Like our home and our car. 

And the word chore has this energy that is kind of such a downer and it’s really hard to like rally the troops around that, but if you talk about this work as like, foundationally based in gratitude, it maybe can take on a different patina for people.

[00:11:07] Randi Rubenstein: Mmm, I love that. I’ve always hated the word chore.

[00:11:12] Lori Sugarman-Li: Mm

[00:11:12] Randi Rubenstein: I didn’t know why it’s like, yeah, I I think it’s you know, I guess it’s like when I was, when I was younger I , I lived in so much more chaos internally and my, my environment reflected that internal chaos.

[00:11:35] Lori Sugarman-Li: Hmm. Mm

[00:11:36] Randi Rubenstein: I mean, I was the kind of person in college that would buy more underwear versus doing laundry. Like, I mean, I, I put off doing laundry and it was just like, I just, I didn’t live in a neat way. And as I’ve gotten older and as I’ve also just gotten, I think, less chaotic inside, I, it’s so wonderful to live in a space that I, it feel, it doesn’t feel chaotic.

It’s like, and you know, I’m looking at my desk. My husband would never have a desk, like I have stuff. I have a candle lit. I have my little cards that I like to pull. I’ve got, I’ve got, I’m like your son a little

[00:12:19] Lori Sugarman-Li: Yeah. Mm

[00:12:20] Randi Rubenstein: a little succulent that somebody gave me, a little Buddha, a little, here’s the, I got a little cute gold Buddha I got in Japan.

[00:12:26] Lori Sugarman-Li: That is really cute.

[00:12:28] Randi Rubenstein: So I have all my stuff. I’ve got my things, but it’s, it’s, it’s not chaotic, it’s not filthy, it’s like there’s some order, there’s some structure and, and I have so much gratitude for that because I’m like, it feels good to live in a way that doesn’t feel just like an explosion. It makes me feel, it makes me feel calmer in my body, you know, and um, and so yeah, I do think that there’s, there’s something about like taking pride in your space, taking pride in this amazing, beautiful family, this home that we have created this, you know, that’s why I like to use the term pack. Like we are a pack.

[00:13:09] Lori Sugarman-Li: Mm hmm.

[00:13:10] Randi Rubenstein: It’s a, like it feels like what a special place to be in each of our packs. Like to have that sense of family pride. Right? You know, people talk about loyalty, like it’s the same, they use it in the same way that they talk about chores, but I’m like, taking pride in your pack, of course you’re going to be loyal to your pack. Like that kind of goes without saying. 

You know, of course you’re going to take care of your space. It doesn’t need to be a chore. It’s something that you want to do because, because you realize like, like this is an amazing place to be. It’s a, it’s like a, it’s a, it’s an energetic shift to me.

[00:13:48] Lori Sugarman-Li: Yeah. And just the way that you spoke about it, like the power in sharing that, you know, as you’re educating your kids about, again, how powerful all of this is. Sharing your own history and your own evolution, and like, yeah, I used to feel this way about it and here’s how I used to do it. And now that I do it this way, I have so much more peace and I feel so supported. And just the notion that um, these, these feelings can be so connected to the way we organize our space and the, the way that we, you know, create our environments is just talking about it is like, you know, kids absorb that. Right? 

And what I love to suggest for, for families is again, getting back to foundations, start with a meeting. Start where you are. I’ve written a book for children, um, but this is very much a start where you are with however your, old, your children are right? Because ultimately we are teaching them to be independent at some point, and it comes fast, doesn’t it? And then we’re teaching them how to be solid rock partners.

And so the ability to sit down with with the group in which, um, with which you share space and say, hey, this is what’s meaningful to me. This is what feels important to me about, you know, this, the spaces that we share, the spaces that are primarily, you know, belong to me like a bedroom or whatever, this is what I can manage right now based on my schedule. This is what I struggle with based on how I approach task completion. This is where I would really prefer to have support. This is where I would prefer that you like, leave me alone to let me do it on my own schedule. 

And all these kinds of conversations, we begin to trust each other. We begin to really understand what’s important to whom, and if we differ in what’s important to us, understand why that is too, and then figure out a way to meet, to deliver something where we all feel safe.

[00:15:46] Randi Rubenstein: Okay, so I love, I was, I was telling, I was talking to Lori before we started recording and I said, I love that you wrote a children’s book because, you know, moms have so much on our plates. Like, I mean, I am a big, uh, fan of the book, the sort of parenting phenom, uh, accidental parenting phenom book, Hunt, Gather, Parent, which was written by my friend, Michaeleen Doucleff. It became a New York Times bestseller. She’s an NPR journalist and, um, well she actually doesn’t work for them full time anymore cause now she’s writing books, many books. 

But you know, she talks very much about like she went and she traveled to these indigenous cultures. And, and it is this, you know, every, you know, it’s like kids at such young ages are doing so many things. And, and I have parents all the time though, say like, I love that. How do I, how do I teach them? Like I have so much on my plate now I have to figure out how, like it’s so much easier just to do the damn thing myself. Now I have to train the people. I have to condition the people. Like I don’t even know. 

And so the fact that you’re giving everyone a tool in this children’s book, I think it’s so brilliant. And it. Yeah. Yeah. It lightens the load for moms just by you writing this book. It’s like, oh, let’s read this book tonight. It’s, you know, and it just happens to be teaching exactly the message that I want to teach you.

[00:17:17] Lori Sugarman-Li: Thank you so much for saying that. And you’re right. A lot of women do think it’s just easier if I do it myself. But the implication to that, um, is that this has become a serious wellness issue for women. And, um, we know that women carry 75 percent of the load of unpaid labor globally. And we see this as young as girls age eight. And that’s the work that we can see, right? That doesn’t compute the, the mental and the emotional load that we know is also inequitable to women, maybe even more than 75 percent. 

And the result of that is 80 percent of autoimmune diseases are diagnosed in women and twice the rate of anxiety and depression and, you know, higher rates of all sorts of other concerns that are directly related to the weight of all of this labor, which tends to be for the most part invisible. 

And so what I think is so important in engaging your family first is making it visible. I suggest parenting a little bit more loudly, or I should say not even just parenting, but when you’re doing the work of care, do it a little bit more loudly so that everybody in your home is aware of the scope of this work.

So much of it is done when kids are at school, when kids are asleep. And as I said before, so much of it is mental and emotional, and it really can easily get lost. And we see women drowning in it. So the first key to this is to make it more visible. 

And the second thing, which is something that, um, I’ve heard you talk about a lot is shine a light on the why. The why of all of this work. Because instead of a chore chart or a checklist, you suddenly start to have some context for all these meaningful things that we do. 

Why? Why do we change our sheets? Well, you know, as I tell my 13 year old, there’s a correlation between clean sheets and clear skin, right? This is important to him. And suddenly when you become, when you come aware of the meaning behind something, you then have more of a stake in it. 

And then third, as we talked about, could we try to change the energy of this work? Yes, it’s a lot. Yes, we’re exhausted, especially when women are working, you know, outside the home as well, and they’re doing this at six in the morning or at 11 o’clock at night. Right. We call it the second shift. It is a lot, and I don’t want to suggest that it’s always fun, but again, if you can see it as the work of gratitude at its core for this beautiful life that we have, um, and also use it as a point of connection with other family members.

I think a lot of families take the approach of like, okay, fine, like do what we have to do. Let’s get this done so that we can then do what we want to do, like the fun things. But if I’m being honest, a lot of the most like emotional memories I have of time with my dad, who I lost a decade ago, was of me holding the ladder steady for him while he was up in the attic, you know, bringing down the lawn furniture. Or of us, like sweeping the garage or him teaching me how to grill or all these moments that were empowering moments related to the work of the home. 

I don’t think immediately of us going for pizza or going to the beach, you know? It was, it was these moments of connection that we shared doing things that, um, indicated that he trusted me and he wanted to teach me and that are lessons I still carry today.

[00:20:56] Randi Rubenstein: So true. So true. I have a, my kids are older, but I have an eight year old little niece who I’m really close to. And when she, you know, all throughout her life she would come like, you know, once, once a week after school or I would pick her up from preschool or sometimes she’d spend the night on the weekends. 

And on the weekends when she would spend the night and, you know, if I had kids, teenagers, they were sleeping. So I’ll, you know, she’s up at, you know, whenever, 6:30, 7 o’clock in the morning. And we’d have a whole morning, you know, and so, um, when we would, when I would go to make her breakfast, you know, I’d pull up a stool and she’d, and now I’m in a different stage of life. So I’m not this harried mom, like I’m, you know, everything’s an activity.

And so, plus I, uh, read Hunt, Gather, Parent, so now I’m even more aware of how, you know, it, you know, and what you’re talking about too. So I pull up a stool and we’re making, you know, like the little, I call it the bird’s nest, you know, where you like, like rip a hole in the bread and then you crack the egg and then

[00:22:03] Lori Sugarman-Li: Oh yeah.

[00:22:04] Randi Rubenstein: yeah. So I call it a bird’s nest. And so I’m like, and she loves them. And so, you know, but she’s looking out the window and she sees Uncle Scott out there doing, you know, with his lawn blower, with his whatever. And she’s like, okay, we, will you finish making it? I need to go and check on uncle Scott. 

And so then she runs outside. And so I look outside and Scott’s got her sweeping and doing something and, and she’s still in her little, um, like whatever Disney like nightgown. So I’m snapping pictures like through the window, I’m snapping pictures of her and I’m sending it to my sister in law. And she’s like, she’s like, I’m just going to start calling her Cinderella. Cause she comes over there and y’all just put her to work. 

It was her favorite thing. Like she can’t. I mean, she comes and, and for years she comes and we’re like, like, we’re washing dogs. We’re going, we’ve made up a game of I spy to pick, it’s so gross, but like picking up the, I have three dogs, so like there’s a lot of dog poop, so I’d be like, Oh, I need to clean it up. I’m like, well, can we play I spy? Will you spot them? And, but that’s fun to her. It’s amazing. It’s fun to her. Yeah.

[00:23:12] Lori Sugarman-Li: It’s amazing the little things, and I mean, gamification is something that absolutely I recommend. 

Um, but you know, it’s, it’s the little things that we take for granted that are such little wonders. I remember the first time I invited my now 11 year old, but I think then he was, must’ve been seven, let’s say, in to do the laundry with me. And he saw me picking the fluff out of the dryer lint catch. And he was like, what is that? Like, where did, what are you doing with that? And then suddenly he found a YouTube video where you can make paper with dryer lint. And he was so fascinated by it. 

And it’s all the little things, the little maintenance things that we do without even thinking about it or without even realizing, oh, I should teach, you know, them this because again, we’re racing to that point where they’re going to be leaving us and having to do it on their own. And the more we share about it now, and the more we build that muscle from an early age, the more likely they are to be able to keep up with it. 

I think a lot of families worry about, protecting kids, um, you know, let them, let them be little, let them play. And when they’re in adolescence, you know, let, like, let them focus on their studies and whatever extracurricular stuff they need to, to beeline to college.

But, it’s, it’s fabulous to get into a wonderful college. Of course, we should be focused on that, but also like they have to make a life for themselves while they’re gone and they need to understand how to have a nourishing meal before exams and again, how to have clean sheets and the things that are going to maintain a, a safe and healthy environment for them. And the earlier we talk about it and build the muscle for them to approach those kinds of tasks and complete them confidently, ultimately the better off they’re going to be. 

[00:24:57] Randi Rubenstein: You said something a little bit ago that I would love for you to explain. When you talked about, um, these caretaking tasks to, to, to do them out loud or to do them louder, and I would love for you to unpack that a little bit. What does that look like in real life? And if you could give an example.

[00:25:20] Lori Sugarman-Li: Yeah, so I, I think I find myself now and it’s actually, it takes me back to your very first story where you were saying, oh, before my husband gets home, like I used to tidy up everything, put it away, um, and I used to do that too. And I think it was part of my desire to, you know, perform at that high level that I used to in my paid career before I focused completely on this unpaid career of, of care and, um, And parenting and community work. And I just wanted everything to always be, be perfect. 

But what I realized is that, um, in doing it all silently and magically. Everybody could see that it was clean and great, but they actually didn’t understand the transition from, you know, the beautiful floor covered in toys everywhere to everything being put away. And so there wasn’t like an associated value to that. 

Now I will talk a lot about the process. And I will invite my kids to understand the why behind everything that I’m doing, and the when, and the cadence, the frequency, right? And explain even the littlest things to them. 

Like the other day, I, my son wanted to like do his hair, so I was giving him one of my old like hair appliances. And I said to him, oh, hang on a second. Actually, there’s this filter that you have to clean out here because sometimes like some dust can build in and it won’t work as well if there’s like dust. 

And so now I find everything I’m doing, I’m saying, this is the thing you do to maintain this. And this is how you do it. And this is how often you do it. And this is where you put it. And this is where it goes. And even if they’re tuning me out from time to time, which I’m sure they do, I know the osmosis is at work. And the next time they’re looking at that hair dryer, they’re think, oh, there’s something about this like filter thing that I have to maintain.

And so, um, instead of the sort of me wanting to be like the little fairy that makes everything perfect behind the scenes, I’m a lot more explicit now about these many, many, many things that I do during the day, and why.

[00:27:28] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, that’s so interesting. I had an example of that last night and I guess I am doing that more because my son is a senior in high school and he just committed to college. So I mean, so this, like in two days, it’s two days ago, okay, so like two days ago he committed. And, and, and so of course in my brain I’m like, Oh God, we got to teach him all the things, you know?

[00:27:56] Lori Sugarman-Li: Hmm. Mm hmm.

[00:27:57] Randi Rubenstein: It was funny because, um, I went and I, I don’t think I’ve ever said this out loud. We, it was on Sunday night and I know that we take our trash out on Tuesdays. And we have a little hack where whenever there’s like something that would be grody in the trash, like, you know, chicken bones or something like that, um, we put it in a little plastic grocery bag and we tie it up and we put it in the freezer.

[00:28:27] Lori Sugarman-Li: Oh, genius! Mmm!

[00:28:30] Randi Rubenstein: So then you don’t, so then you don’t have super stinky trash because the day of trash, you just put out all these little grocery bag freezer blocks in your trash and, you know, in a bigger bag and you don’t have stinky trash. 

And so I was like, I was like, Cor see how I’m taking the chicken bones and I’m tying it up and now I’m going to put them in the freezer and on Tuesday morning we’ll take it out and we’ll put it in the trash and that way you don’t have grody, grody trash. And he was like, oh cool. 

And my husband’s like, he’s not listening. And I looked at, he’s like, none, no part of that is he listening to. And I looked at Scott and I was like, seeds have been planted. Seeds have been planted. I will repeat this. I will be going like, this is the way it works. We plant the seeds, we say it, and then they’ve heard it enough times that they’re like, hey what did you say that, you know? And like, I think osmosis does happen. So yeah.

[00:29:26] Lori Sugarman-Li: Yeah, that’s genius. I’m going to start doing that. I’ve never heard that before.

[00:29:31] Randi Rubenstein: I, I’ve never, I don’t know how we came up with it, but we’ve been doing it for years and we live in Texas, so it’s like high,

[00:29:39] Lori Sugarman-Li: Hot, hot, hot.

[00:29:40] Randi Rubenstein: Gross. I mean, your trash can be, it’s like whoever has to take out the trash, which is usually not me, but I still feel for him when he’s like, when he’d be like, Oh, there was a maggots in the trash. I’m like, that is just unnecessary and unpleasant. We’ve got to, we got to fix that. 

Um, tell me, I would love to know when you married Kevin was Kevin, like all in for these conversations, figuring out, like, is this how Kevin came to you or did you have a hand in Kevin becoming the version of himself he is today?

[00:30:21] Lori Sugarman-Li: Such a great question. And I, I have to go back to Kevin’s parents because Kevin’s dad is just the most beautiful, um, and really devoted caregiver. And he always has been such a massive contributor. So Kevin grew up with that model. Um, his dad happens to be a fabulous cook and he’s just has an instinct for, for nurturing.

But, um, you know, we, I would say we mirrored quite the typical experience, which was when we partnered, we definitely approached things very equitably. And then once we had a child and this happens in most cases, recorded cases, um, that’s when the inequity really sort of like stumbled and, um, everything came to me.

And, a lot of that is due to the fact that we’re socialized to believe in concepts like mother knows best, motherhood instinct, women are better nurturers, women are better multitaskers, and all of these concepts that sort of falsely empower women to take everything on and also unfairly alienate men from a lot of this work when you, especially when you have a newborn, right? 

And so he sort of took a step to the side and waited to be called in as a helper. He sort of waited for me to be the manager of the work and he would, he was always there to, to come in, but he definitely saw himself as like the secondary, right?

And, um, this whole concept of help is something we can talk about too, right? Because in terms of, guiding language for your family, when you talk about, oh, you know, let me help, there’s still the implication that the mother is the owner of all of this work, right? All of this guiding work for your, for your family.

Um, but then what happened was, um, when I went into, um, this fully unpaid profession of caring for my family full time and community work and charity work and work at their schools, um, I, I really started to carry close to 100 percent of the load and, um, Kevin was traveling a lot and it became very, very inequitable. And it was only when we lived in London, England after living, my kids were born in Toronto. We lived in London, England for four years. And then we moved to Chicago about six years ago. 

When we moved to Chicago, uh, Kevin said to me, because he did value, uh, the weight of my contribution in this role tremendously. And he said, let’s get you disability insurance, because if anything happens to you, God forbid, I will step into that role because it is so valued for us. And so I went through the whole process of applying for disability and filling in all the forms and doing all the medical checks and whatnot. And I was rejected. Told by the insurance agent that because I don’t receive a salary, that if something happens to me, there’s no loss. There’s no tangible loss. 

And that was a bubble bursting moment for both Kevin and me as to the societal devaluing, the insulting, societal basically, you know, tossing in the trash of all of this work that we know women, whether they work outside of the home for pay or not, are, are carrying and contributing the bulk of. And so he has really been my partner in the mission that was born for me on that day of wanting to bring a voice to this work, wanting to push to assign value to this work, and wanting to break that cycle of it, if it not being seen as as valuable and and and he has become the most incredible equitable partner as a result. 

It was always there. You know, men are incredibly capable caregivers and contributors. It’s really just all a matter of how we talk about it and how we invite everybody in to participate. And, um, again, going back to the family conversations about family wellness and family equity and starting fundamentally from, you know, not necessarily what is the division of labor, but do we all have an equal division of rest and joy and self care and time for connection with friends? And once that’s all equal, then the work and the division of tasks will fall. Um, and so that’s how we look at it now.

[00:35:18] Randi Rubenstein: It’s so interesting, I mean, if I look at the older generation in my family, in our family, um, it’s, it’s like women have been socialized for so long to like, like it’s our pleasure to take care of other people, right? It’s our pleasure and there’s like, like, like our value is in how well, you know, it’s kind of like before a holiday, um, the older generation of women, when we, my generation started taking over the holidays,

[00:35:57] Lori Sugarman-Li: Mm hmm.

[00:35:58] Randi Rubenstein: the older generation of women, first of all, were really territorial. And they were just getting too old. They’re like, you know, 80, you know, late seventies, eighties. And it’s there, you know, it was like, okay, it’s time to pass the torch people, because frankly, we need to be taking care of you. Like they were tired and they had health things and it was a lot, it was stressful. They were starting to plan like months ahead of time. It was, it was too much. So we knew that we need to step up and start taking over. 

And then the older generation would say things like whenever they would come, it was like, you know, they have to comment on every single dish and on all the little details of the holiday and, um, and assuming I’m doing it all and that it’s not, you know, when we throw the holidays here, it’s actually me and my husband and his sister and we’re a team and we all have our roles and we all do it together.

And it’s, you know, cause I said, when we take over these holidays, like I, it’s not taking over my life. Number one, I’ve got a full life and, um, and I, and I’ve like, I work, you know, like Scott works, I work too. And like, it’s not, I’m not doing that. And so, and my sister in law too. 

So we all have our roles, but it’s interesting. The older generation, like my mother in law would comment about every, the dishes and, um, in a sweet way, you know, very complimentary. She’s, she’s a really kind woman. So it wasn’t like that, you know, that stereotypical mother in law that’s like chastising and judging you. It wasn’t like that. It was like, she was, she was really trying to compliment me.

And I’m like, and all I say to her every single time is, is like, I am not a hero. We have our systems. We, we work together. We are not making everything from scratch. We know where to order things and peep thing and we, we do a good job working together. 

She does not believe me. She thinks I am single handedly doing it all myself. She like can’t believe me. And, and it’s amazing cause I’ve watched her for years killing herself and like, you know, the older generation of men, like they’ll sit around just chillaxing, no guilt chillaxing, and the, and their wives are running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

[00:38:26] Lori Sugarman-Li: Yeah. No, you said, you said it at the beginning. Um, we are, we are taught that for us, it’s a labor of love, right? And so, I mean, look, of course it is, but men, and you’re demonstrating it by partnering with your husband on the holidays, men can be just as much a part of that. So the idea that, you know, only women are socialized to show up for their families in this way is I think something that it’s time to unlearn. Um, because men can make magic, you know, for holidays too. And men can cook beautiful meals and whatever it is. Men can do the dishes. Men, men can do anything. 

Um, and it’s just a matter of saying, you know what, it’s time. It’s time to rejig. Because, to your point, your system that you have there is very founded in a deliberate reflection on what is meaningful to you and what you are willing and capable of allocating to that particular task.

And that’s what it’s all about. 

Audiogram 1 In?

[00:39:33] Lori Sugarman-Li: It’s about taking a minute to reflect and saying like, how meaningful is this to us? And what do we want to allocate to it? What does it look like for all of us? And when will we be, when will we feel, you know, truly fulfilled? 

There’s going to be a few things that you realize as a family that you’re doing that you’re like, why are we, why do we care about that? Like release, get it off the list. And it’s such a relief to, you know, reground yourself in only things that bring meaning. I love that you do that.

[00:40:10] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. It’s, it, it took, I mean there was, it took a while for us to figure it out, and once we figured it out, I was like, you know what, this was the goal. Like, like it’s important to us to have rituals and to have beautiful holidays where everyone comes together and everyone gets to relax and I want, you know, it’s really important to me.

Audiogram 1 Out?

[00:40:35] Randi Rubenstein: People come into my home. I want to take great care of people. 

Um, like I love, I love doing it and I don’t want, I want people to be well cared for. It doesn’t all need to be by me. Uh, like, like, that’s why I was like, we got to figure out systems because if it all falls on me and it has in the past when we would have, you know, holidays or whatever. And 

Audiogram 2 In?

[00:41:01] Randi Rubenstein: before I had figured this out, I would find myself tense and resentful. 

And it wasn’t fun for anyone. Because I was like inviting people into my home and it almost felt like I was annoyed that they were here. But yet why did I even you know, why did I raise my hand in the first place? So I had I was like, yeah, I gotta figure some shit out because this is not working for me or anyone else

[00:41:27] Lori Sugarman-Li: It’s like the moms that, you know, feel guilty for giving their kids chicken nuggets, but, but they did it because they didn’t have the time or the, or the wherewithal to make them a meal from scratch. And the idea of making a meal from scratch just felt way too stressful. So in the end, they have a child who number one is fed and they didn’t take on the stress.

So guess what? We’re actually better off. 

Audiogram 2 Out?

[00:41:55] Lori Sugarman-Li: Right? You’re better off because you are actually enjoying the holidays, the meaningful rituals with your family. It doesn’t matter that you ordered in the turkey.

[00:42:06] Randi Rubenstein: Right

[00:42:07] Lori Sugarman-Li: That’s not what’s important. Right? And nobody with your mother in law doesn’t even know that you ordered in the turkey.

[00:42:12] Randi Rubenstein: No, I’m like, we live in Houston, Texas. We’ve like, it’s like the restaurant capital of the world. I know exactly the different places to order different things. 

And, 

Audiogram 3 In?

[00:42:23] Randi Rubenstein: and I guess speaking to what you help families figure out is once my kid, once I have drivers. I’m like, remember, we’re hosting a holiday, so all hands on deck, you, you’ve got these errands, you’re in charge of this thing. Like, I’m not running myself ragged while people sit around, like, saying they’re bored, and when does it start, and what do they have to wear? I’m like, we’re all gonna be helping out here 

[00:42:50] Lori Sugarman-Li: And in the process, you’re empowering your kids. You’re letting them know that you trust them. They’re a part of important things for the family, and they are going to feel pride when people walk through the door and they know what their contributions were.

Audiogram 3 Out?

[00:43:07] Randi Rubenstein: It’s so true. They take more ownership versus the years when I used to when before I knew that. I wish I had had people like you when younger me had had people like you to teach me these things much sooner. Like I’d be running myself ragged all day long and I had little kids underfoot saying I’m bored. I’m bored. And then when it’s finally time for the holiday, they’re like begrudgingly there. 

Versus once I figured out how to include them and like that I needed to include them and it was helpful. Now they’re hosting the holiday too. So they’re not begrudgingly there. They’re they’re happily there, right? They’re hosting. 

So, yeah, can you, do you have, I saw a reel, um, on your Instagram where you talked about Kevin traveling three days a week for work.

[00:44:02] Lori Sugarman-Li: Yeah.

[00:44:03] Randi Rubenstein: And it would, I mean, I, at this point I have a, not a totally equitable partnership, but fairly. It’s, it’s, I mean, like things are, things are, are pretty equitable. Okay. 

[00:44:18] Lori Sugarman-Li: Great. 

[00:44:18] Randi Rubenstein: Um, and. Hearing your list, I was like, okay, you’re a queen. Because, and Kevin is a king because that list was amazing. And if you, if you like, I don’t know if you can recall it, but like talking about that, I think really solidifies this process for people.

[00:44:43] Lori Sugarman-Li: Oh, thanks for watching that. Well, I will say again, you know, it’s, it’s been a journey. It’s been a process. It’s been a lot of conversations and you know, it’s, it’s, it was an interesting start. Because when Kevin first took on this role that had him traveling a lot, first of all, recognizing that the travel itself is, is taxing. 

Um, and we notice his absence so much because he is a strong contributor when he’s here. But in order to make it work, we had to divide the, the scope, which is huge. We, we have two young kids, tons of activities, uh, tons of stuff going on in our life. We had to divide it in a way such that he could maintain support, full ownership for some of the tasks while he was gone or else I was going to be, utterly drowning. Um, and so we made a list of all of the sort of the big things that we tackle, be it daily or weekly or whatever. And we identified all the things that could be done remotely. 

And, um, you know, one of the huge things that takes up a lot of our time is our, our kids involvement in sports. They both play school soccer, school basketball, travel soccer in two different leagues. It’s a lot of logistics and constant communication and planning and updating and whatnot. 

And I said to Kevin, you’ve got to own this entire thing from start to finish, because if we try to divide, what’s going to happen is we’re going to spend so much time saying, are you going to do this or am I going to do this? And, or we’re going to both do it and it’s going to be like a duplication, which is a waste of time. Or we’re, we’re going to assume the other person’s doing it, and then we’re both going to forget. And so it’s the kind of thing that truly needs to be fully owned by one person. 

And it was a process to get there. You know, when we first started out, he would say to me, Oh, I’m, I’m filling in, you know, the forms. Can you just upload the picture of the, the headshot of the kids to the portal? And I would have to say, no, that’s, that’s part of owning soccer. So whenever you get to it, you can get to it, but like that’s on your plate.

And he shifted away from seeing me as sort of like an administrative support person on it to do all the little things. And of course I could have done them, but the goal, um, that we had, and it’s, it’s really working out well for us, is complete and utter ownership of whatever the task is such that the other person is completely liberated from even thinking about it.

So we both get copied on all of the emails from the soccer coach. I don’t even look at them. Because I have full trust and faith that Kevin’s got it covered because we’ve developed to this point. It wasn’t perfect. We missed a few things. Um, you know, one time we didn’t have the carpool sorted, whatever it is. And then, you know, you learn. And then Kevin appreciates the full ownership because he actually doesn’t spend any time checking in with me on anything. He just sorts it. Um, and it works really well. I just show up and cheer and I love it. 

There’s a lot of things, of course, the daily grind of the household, because he does travel so much, is fully on my plate. And I just love it. Run with it. And I know what needs to be done and, you know, I keep him abreast, but I just fully run with it such that he is liberated. Um, and it really works for us. The, a lot of the things that he tackles remotely, um, a lot of the administrative stuff. 

Um, so I talk in that reel that I, that you referred to about, um, making sure I fully understand what’s going on for our family in terms of like, you know, finances, insurance and all of these things, but I don’t run, handle the administration of any of it. Because these are all things that could be done remotely from wherever Kevin’s traveling to, he can manage filling in forms and booking renewals and having meetings and stuff like that.

Um, the other thing that he, uh, that he owns is, um, communication with extended family and keeping in touch with. He calls my mother every week and he calls his parents every week and he talks. Not that I, of course, don’t enjoy that as well, but he makes sure the box is checked. So we have that regular communication and we know what everybody’s up to, what everybody needs.

And he also makes sure that he stays really strongly connected to our kids when he’s traveling. And so they have a call every single night where they have their sort of list of things that they check in on. And so Kevin’s available for any homework support. Kevin’s available for any, you know, deep, big questions that may have come up during the day.

Um, and, and they have, they, they sometimes will read a book together or share their screen and watch a show together. And so it’s that connection time, even when he’s on the road. And, um, so it is, it’s possible. It really is possible, but again, it’s a lot of communication. And as you articulated before, really clearly defined systems.

[00:49:57] Randi Rubenstein: And so you have a background in communication?

[00:50:00] Lori Sugarman-Li: I worked in marketing for 15 years. I have an MBA in marketing strategy. I worked for Kraft Foods and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. And so that was my first paid career. 

Um, when I was working for Four Seasons, I had my first child, what was the best job ever before kids was actually quite complicated with a baby. Cause there was really so many travel requirements. And at that time, this was almost 15 years ago. There wasn’t a lot of flexibility on offer. So I decided to pivot into full time care of my family for a period, which was, um, incredibly nourishing for me and I thrived. 

Um, and then when this delightful insurance agent told me that, uh, in fact, no, you’re not contributing anything to the GDP whatsoever, ma’am, quote unquote, um, I thought, okay, it’s, it’s time to take on a new career genesis. And, uh, I was trained as a family coach and wrote this book.

[00:51:03] Randi Rubenstein: So it’s, yeah, I, I’m, I’m thinking about your background and I, I teach people my tool for how to have a productive conversation. And I think what many people are lacking and they don’t even know where to begin is this effective communication piece.

[00:51:30] Lori Sugarman-Li: Mm hmm. Mm 

[00:51:31] Randi Rubenstein: Like, I think so often because we don’t have the tools and we don’t even know how to approach these conversations, we’ll, we just come at it defensive and we assume the worst in the other person and we tell them what they’re doing wrong and why it’s not fair and how dare they or whatever it is. Or we’re passive aggressive and they don’t know why everything’s so tense. And it turns into this just like it can be just like years and years and years of anger and resentment because people don’t know how to talk about these things the way you… 

I mean even like the the bound the example of boundaries that you had with Kevin where y’all you know when he came back to you and was like, hey, can you just upload the, you know, that I, I so like can imagine that conversation and the fact that you’re like, no, we talked about this. Like the, the deal is, is you own this, like this is your baby. And so I’m not, you know, no, I’m not, you’ll, it’ll just, that, that piece of it, you were not gonna be able to totally cross this off your to do list until you get somewhere where you can upload the headshot, like holding that boundary, I think sets precedent, and I think that can be so hard for people. 

[00:52:52] Lori Sugarman-Li: Well, and that was big growth for me too, uh, that, that’s not necessarily a skill that I always held. And so it was something that I developed because I had a greater goal. Um, and I think again, this is, this is something that you can come to people within your family, just really out of honesty and just say, you know, I kind of have been feeling lately, like a little bit of tension when it comes to, you know, this or that or whatever it is. And I don’t want that to come between us. 

Like, I don’t, I don’t want to have arguments about, like chicken bones in the garbage. You know, I love you. And I want a way to reduce the stressful feelings that we feel because we’re always going to have all of this work. And, um, you know, I could use the word chores. I could use the word tasks, whatever it is, like it takes so much for this family to thrive. 

But I wonder if we could just talk about how we approach it, talk about how we divide it. Understand if there’s improvements that we can make as a family, because I heard this podcast or I read this book or I read this report or whatever it was. And it seems to me that there’s an opportunity for us to reduce the amount of stress that we feel and reduce the amount of resentment that’s between us. And ultimately lighten the load for all of us because we do have a system that is, um, clearly like the, that full ownership, um, approach. It actually really does reduce the overall load and reduce the levels of stress and that benefits everybody.

Audiogram 4 In?

[00:54:37] Lori Sugarman-Li: This is not about unloading stuff on to men or unloading stuff on to kids, right? It’s about creating a system for your family. And, and as you said, like a constant connection through effective communication that makes this work feel less heavy, and allows you to look at it through this filter of gratitude and, and meaningfulness.

[00:55:02] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, and it’s, it’s a team approach.

[00:55:06] Lori Sugarman-Li: It is a team. Exactly.

[00:55:08] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, it’s a team approach. It’s like, it’s like what you said earlier on where everyone gets to be wired differently, exactly as they are. You know, you’re never, I, I use this example a lot, but I’m like, you’re never going to be a winning soccer team, if you just have a whole team full of amazing goalies, 

Audiogram 4 Out?

[00:55:29] Randi Rubenstein: like, well, right.

Like we, like we need, and we need the person who can run really fast and, and, and get it, get the ball down the field and shoot it into the goal, whatever that’s called. We need, you know, we need the person who’s more aggressive, who’s going to be able to defend the goal. You know, like we need people to play different positions. We, it’s a good thing when we’re wired differently. 

But I think it’s the communication piece and, and, and when we come at it where we’re angry and resentful, like number one, when you’re feeling those feelings in your body, they’re there for a reason, right? They’re there for a reason. And so when we take those feelings seriously, rather than push them away, pretend we don’t have them. And then trust the people in our pack, on our team, that we love more than anything, to have an honest conversation with, not from a place of, you know, how dare you, you’re doing it wrong, but from a place of… 

I did this recently actually about dinner. Because as we shift into empty nester hood, I started feeling this with, you know, my husband, I have always been the maker of the dinner. And, um, and we have our certain roles and that’s one thing that I’ve always done. And I said to him early in our marriage, hey, listen, I’m going to take on the task of making the dinner. And if you ever come into this house and just expect it or aren’t completely appreciative of the fact that I took the time to buy the food and think of what to make and prepare it, dinner’s done. I’m going to stop doing it.

As long as you have a good attitude and like, I’m, I’m, I’m owning this task, I’m owning this role. But I started to notice like as over the years as I’ve started to work more and, um, and have, you know, It’s like when he comes home from a full day of work, and I’ve had a full day of work, even though my work looks maybe different than his work, um, and I have more flexibility. I might be working and walking my dogs or working and running an errand, but I’m working. 

And, and when he would come home and I would see him like sitting at the table. And goofing around on his phone and, or watching something on his iPad or cat, you know, returning a few emails, and I’m over there making dinner, I started to feel feelings of resentment in my body. And so we had to have a conversation where I said, like, we’re going to be cooking for the two of us and I have a full day too. And I don’t want this task all on me anymore.

[00:58:18] Lori Sugarman-Li: Yeah. Yeah! Yeah. And that’s such an important part of this process is the opportunity to revisit, right? And rejig based on feelings, based on being exhausted by something or based on your family dynamic shifting as yours is now with, um, your last one leaving the home. 

And you know, you reminded me of something really essential, which is, of course, sometimes conversations are going to be difficult. That’s all about knowing how to do that and having not just the soft and beautiful language, but also knowing how to like have a hard conversation. And I think those are really best had after you’ve taken a breath from whatever the heated moment is.

Um, I love the power in the pause, but I think it’s really important to always earmark a time for revisiting. So like committing to like, let’s not talk about this right now because we’re feeling kind of heated about it. But, uh, in three hours, like meet me back at this table and we’ll figure out what happened. Um, it’s really important to have the, the respectful language to honor a difficult situation too. And that, that happens with time.

[00:59:37] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. I think it’s good. I mean, you know, for me, I’m not as articulate and so sometimes I’ll just be in the moment. I think during, for that dinner one, I think I was like, he was asking me a question about, or no, he was probably wanting to pick my brain about something from his day. Cause he’s waited now all day to come home and he wants to tell me all the things and he was trying to talk to me and I’m like trying to read a recipe. And I looked at him and I was like, I think I said like, do I seem a little bitchy right now?

[01:00:12] Lori Sugarman-Li: Mm.

[01:00:13] Randi Rubenstein: And he’s like, oh, and I was like, I’m feeling bitchy. Like I’m feeling bitchy. We’re going to have to talk about this, cause I’m starting to feel resentful that about this dinner thing. So this is going to be something that we’re going to talk about. And so for right now, I just need some quiet

[01:00:27] Lori Sugarman-Li: Mhm.

[01:00:28] Randi Rubenstein: And, and I know I’m being bitchy. Like, I knew I was being bitchy because, like, he really just wants to talk to me about his day. He, it’s like, he’s like, you’ve been talking to people all day long. I’ve been waiting, you’re my person, I’ve been waiting to talk to you all day long, you know? And so it’s very sweet. But at the same time, I’m like, I’m trying to make fucking dinner here and I’ve been talking to people all day long, like, just give me a minute. And so it was this, and like, I could feel myself being bitchy. 

Um, so even when we’re a little bitchy at what I want to tell everyone is, even just owning your bitchiness and saying like, um, I know I’m being bitchy right now. I just need a break. I need a pause and we’ll talk about this later. You know, I’m not mad at you, I’m just feeling bitchy inside. Um, and I like, that’s okay too. I think it’s just honest.

[01:01:16] Lori Sugarman-Li: 100%. 100%. And even just to say, um, I, I can feel that you want my attention right now. Like I totally understand that. But I’m not able to give you that and then give myself to this meal. So if you would rather me sit down and talk to you, then call DoorDash and figure that out, and then you’ll have my attention.

[01:01:41] Randi Rubenstein: That’s right. That’s right. Although he’d be like, okay, if I could have all your tea um, this, I mean, really like. This, I feel like, I feel like there needs to be a list. I don’t even think, I think quite often moms are so immersed in it and we’ve been socialized to do all the things that sometimes these, these, all this caretaking and all the things that helps a family to run, um, I don’t even think we know what all these tasks are. So tell me you have a list of, of typical tasks.

[01:02:22] Lori Sugarman-Li: So one of the things that I tried to do with the, the book, um, for kids is, first of all, in the first section of the book, I sort of have them reflecting on the, their connection to the home and the family and all the beautiful things that happen there, the simple and beautiful things that happen in our home. Um, that we know, like the playing and the cooking and, um, you know, doing our homework and the things that they’re directly involved with. 

And then I do go and touch on a lot of the things that they may not realize happen in the home to create a space that is healthy and safe and caring for them. And so I talk a little bit about all these amazing things that, you know, typically parents are leading. And then I pivot into some of the things that kids might not even realize they’re contributing already and the ways that they are also so valuable to the flow and the daily success of the family. 

And so, um, I was, this book was really inspired by, um, a book that you and I were talking about just before we started, which is 

Link – Fair Play, Eve Rodsky https://www.everodsky.com/fair-playc

[01:03:32] Lori Sugarman-Li: Fair Play by Eve Rodsky, where Eve really does outline, um, in her book and in her card deck, what she identified were the hundred most sort of common tasks performed by a family. And I think 60 of them are for, would maybe apply to most families. And then there’s an additional 40 for families with, um, younger kids. 

And so it is so helpful to understand the scope and to lay it out and you do have that like wow moment. Like, we really are checking a lot of boxes here. And number one, we should feel so great about all that we do for each other. But number two, maybe it’s time to take stock of like what we can release. Or, you know, if you have the capacity, like what we can outsource or whatever it is to sort of shift away from that feeling of overwhelm and stress and resentment to like, just being able to, to manage and even enjoy all of this beautiful work.

[01:04:40] Randi Rubenstein: I love that. So Eve’s book is Fair Play.

[01:04:43] Lori Sugarman-Li: Fair Play.

[01:04:44] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, and I think for everyone listening that’s like, I want my, I want, I want to have a partnership with a Kevin. Like, like, you know, hashtag goals, you want to be Lori and Kevin. Um, I think, starting with what are these hundred tasks and starting, you know, starting from that place of let’s have a conversation about all these tasks and who they are assigned to.

[01:05:11] Lori Sugarman-Li: Right.

[01:05:12] Randi Rubenstein: And you know, and I already can foresee because I can like, like I like to say a lot of times even the good guys have a decent amount of male privilege. Um, and I can already hear some of my moms who are stay at home moms saying that their husbands will say, well, I work outside the home, so this is what I’m doing.

And I think that, you know, when you have a third party, an extra resource that really lists all these things and you guys are learning together, I think that can be a beautiful bridge to start this conversation and start to invite in, you know, somebody, a partner who is, it’s less in that male privilege, I don’t know, mindset.

[01:06:03] Lori Sugarman-Li: And what I would say to those women who are fully focused on that unpaid stage right now, uh, having been one, I know that, uh, we, we are often referred to as dependents, right? Um, and what I would offer is that you are both depending on one another. And the fact that this, um, partner gets to leave every day and go to work and not worry about the health and safety and care of the children and the investment of the home and all of these things, which are so protected by the deep and meaningful effort of typically the woman slash mother who is at home balancing the 600 plates right on her, um, on her spoons on top of her head and, and the juggling of all of that and the mental load and the noticing and the remembering and, um. 

You know, it’s, it’s such a common conversation, right? To have, well, the man will say, well, yeah, but I’m working all day. And, and that’s the implication of this, this work of home not being perceived as, as valued effort. That’s the implication of it not being counted in the GDP or any other economic indicators. And this is the cycle that we have to break. For everybody to see this work of home and care and of community as an extension, right? As well, having so much impact to all of our lives and needing to be counted. 

Um, and so if he’s working all day, then she’s also working all day. And when five o’clock comes or six o’clock comes, whatever happens after that is to be shared and to be balanced. Um, and so, I mean, that’s, there’s a lot more to say about that, but.

[01:08:01] Randi Rubenstein: Can I give you, um, a, like, not a to do, but a wish? Um, I would love for you to put this on in your brain. Maybe it’s another book you can write, about like can we come up with a different term than stay at home mom? Is

[01:08:20] Lori Sugarman-Li: Oh gosh, I would love that.

[01:08:22] Randi Rubenstein: like

[01:08:22] Lori Sugarman-Li: I’ve got that on my LinkedIn page right now. Rebranding stay at home mom.

[01:08:26] Randi Rubenstein: Please rebrand it.

[01:08:28] Lori Sugarman-Li: Mm hmm.

[01:08:29] Randi Rubenstein: Like, I’m like, you know somebody who well, I’m not going to say somebody. A man who goes to an office, exactly what you said, where your, your time is your own all day long, and right? Your time is your own all day long. 

Whereas when you’re home and you’re full time caring for human beings, raising humans. Your time is not your own, even if your kids go to preschool or go to school, at any moment, you know, you could get, you have to be on call. You’re like a doctor, you know, you’re like on call. You could get a call at any minute. You’d have to drop whatever, like your time is not really your own. 

And so I, I feel like it’s like, You know, it’s like you’re on high alert all the time. You’re, there, there is no break. There is no, you know, I’m, you know, I’m going out on break, um, because your break could be interrupted at any time. And so I just feel like there needs to be a rebrand. Um,

[01:09:28] Lori Sugarman-Li: Desperately. Desperately. And, and, you know, just getting back to what you’d said initially about, about men’s sort of dissociation. It’s, it’s almost a shame when they don’t realize, there’s so much opportunity for their own growth and their own wellness to be involved in this work. And it’s not about just like how much can I avoid? It’s actually an opportunity for them and also for modeling for their kids, right? I mean, what do they want for their daughters? Do they want the same cycle of, of, um, you know, threats to wellness and inequity that are in that generation? 

And that’s really why I wanted to write a children’s book because it’s really all about solving this for the next generation. We are, we are, um, in a space now where we’re empowering girls to do absolutely anything. They can fly, they can code, they can be president, they can do anything. But what we haven’t done is take anything off their plate to leave space for the fulfillment of all of those dreams. And we haven’t taught little boys, you can be nurturers. You can be, you know, primary parents. You could be whatever it is that needs to balance the scale.

[01:10:48] Randi Rubenstein: So true. I mean, my son was telling, was talking about in his English class he has this amazing English teacher that he loves and she, um, she does some really fun sort of icebreakers at the beginning of every class and, um, they have to say like an emotion that they’re feeling and they have like some, you know, some sort of, it’s sort of like a social emotional component.

And she was having a conversation with the kids about the difference between male and female friendships. And so a bunch of the girls were talking about how, you know, female friendships are so much more intimate and real and they, you know, talk about real things and feelings and they share a bond that the guys just don’t get to share with each other. 

And my son, he’s kind of a fly under the radar kid. He’s never like, look at me. I want the spotlight. That’s just not his personality. He raised his hand and he’s like, I beg to differ. My

[01:11:47] Lori Sugarman-Li: Oh, good.

[01:11:48] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. He’s like, my friendships are real and we talk about real things and it’s like, that’s not my experience at all.

[01:11:57] Lori Sugarman-Li: Excellent.

[01:11:58] Randi Rubenstein: You know, and it, and it’s true. And I’m like, yeah, it might not be the case for all, you know, for all males being raised right now, but I think when we’re raising boys in with this mindset, right, where it is a mindset of equity. Um, and you know, as, because so much of the care load has fallen on moms, we also have a very empowered, rich opportunity to shape all the humans, right? And so if you wish that your husband had more of a Kevin mindset, like now is your opportunity to shape the future Kevin in your household with exactly what you want, you know, what you would want for, you know, for yourself, for your daughters, for the next generation.

[01:12:57] Lori Sugarman-Li: That’s it. You just said it so, you just wrapped it all up with a beautiful red bow. Thank you so much.

[01:13:04] Randi Rubenstein: Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. Okay, so, so the book is called Our Home, the Love Work and Heart of Family. Here it is if you’re watching the video, and um, and I will put a link in the show notes and your Instagram and your social so that people can follow you. Um, and it’s coming out in April. It’s not out yet. Correct?

[01:13:29] Lori Sugarman-Li: It’s available for pre order now and it will ship April 30th and it’s available everywhere books are sold.

[01:13:35] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. And, and, um, Simon and Schuster published it, right?

[01:13:39] Lori Sugarman-Li: Simon and Schuster’s are the distributors and it was published by actually a beautiful, um, women owned publishing house in, in the Bay Area called the Collective Book Studio.

[01:13:49] Randi Rubenstein: Awesome. Awesome. Well, Lori, it was so fun to talk with you and to get to know you. Thank you so much for being here. I loved our conversation.

[01:13:56] Lori Sugarman-Li: It was wonderful. Thanks so much.

[01:13:59] Randi Rubenstein: Okay. Bye, everyone. 

Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my website and check out mastermindparenting.com. We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you.

And, as always, we’re on all the social channels under mastermind parenting, on Instagram it’s mastermind_parenting. And, you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives where I give you teaching and coaching and I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better, because when they feel better they do better, and I love, love, love getting to know you guys. 

So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review. Super super appreciative

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Creating A Happier Household

by Randi Rubenstein