How to Prioritize “The Happiness Trio” in the New Normal

“Even 10 minutes a day can be transformative.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic is shifting the dynamics of work, parenting, and the home. With these changes comes new (or amplified) sources of stress, especially for women, who regardless of whether they work outside the home, bear two-thirds of the work it takes to run a household and a family. That’s where Fair Play comes in — a system created by organizational management expert Eve Rodsky that helps couples rebalance domestic responsibilities so that both people in the relationship can thrive. In this series, Rodsky will draw on her knowledge from creating Fair Play, and offer tips to empower you and your partner to share the load while navigating this new normal together. 

Now more than ever, it’s vital to make time for what I call “The Happiness Trio,” which consists of personal friendships, self-care and “Unicorn Space” — the active pursuit of what makes you YOU. Finding that time can feel challenging, though. I’m writing this as my 3-year-old is braiding my hair and my older son is screaming for me upstairs.  If you’re in a similar boat, you may feel like carving out time for friendships or self-care is a fairy tale. But let me tell you: Even 10 minutes a day can be transformative, and it’s something you and your partner should plan for each week. 

Here are a couple of ways you can prioritize these activities, and some real-life examples from our Fair Play readers: 

Schedule a call with a friend this week and make it activity based.  

 “I don’t have a lot to say right now since I am sort of in a funk, so I asked my friend Sara to sign up for a “soup making from your pantry” online class with me, and that’s what I’m looking forward to next week.” —Katie from Chicago, Illinois

Take a hot shower, go on a walk, read a good book, or skype into your weekly appointment with your therapist. 

“Online workouts are having a moment. I was so happy when my favorite yoga studio started offering live streaming classes that I can do on my back patio. Making time to continue my practice is keeping me sane!!! The added benefit is that I’m a more patient wife and mom for the rest of the day.” —Jill from Austin, Texas

For five to 10 minutes every day, engage in an activity that makes you come alive (your Unicorn Space!) and share the results with your partner, a friend, or your community.  

“I used to say, I’m too busy to bake, but now in social isolation I’m forced to evaluate how I’m living. One thing’s for sure — there needs to be more cake.” —Olivia from Houston Texas

If you feel there’s no way to create more (or any) time for yourself, step forward and speak up. Tonight, have a conversation with your partner about creating this valuable space for each other.  

Set time on your calendar to focus on your passions each week — even just a few minutes.
You wouldn’t miss an important meeting or doctor’s appointment, so treat this time with the same respect. You’ll begin to build the muscle of including in your to-do list the things that bring you joy.

Up next: The Dirty Dozen. My tips for how to tackle each household and childcare task that threatens the important time we need for ourselves in this new normal. 

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