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Nice Girls Don't Watch the Bachelor
Nice Girls Don't Watch the Bachelor

Episode 8 · 1 year ago

Episode 8: The Tyranny of Childcare

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Washing machines, electric ovens, and the birth control pill. These modern inventions liberated women from repetitive, time-intensive tasks that dominated their daily life in the early 20th century, ultimately paving the way for them to enter the workforce en masse. But without any new domestic-related innovations or technology since the pill came out in 1960, women are spending just as much time today on domestic chores as they were 60 years ago. In episode 8, I talk about the tyranny of childcare and offer a new perspective on how to solve it.

Hey guys, it's Marissa or leadership speaker and author of Lean Out, the truth about women, power and the workplace, and welcome to episode eight of Nice Girls Don't watch the bachelor, where we discuss all things women and all things work, and today's episode is about the tyranny of child care, something I'm sure many of us are familiar with these days. Very top of mine for me, as the past two weeks of virtual school have been impossible. I'm just exhausted. I spend all day breaking up fights for my kids, upstairs, fixing Wi fi and technical issues, answering questions, preparing food, cleaning food, cleaning up after the kids, forcing them to do something outside. It's just exhausting. I've no time to do work, doing a lot of creative work. I really need to be alone and focused and I'm just constantly being interrupted and my life just feels like a hot mess lately. So this topic just seemed perfect for today and it really came up a few nights ago and I was just feeling so beaten down. I went for a walk to get out of the House and I was listening to an audiobook. It's by Jerry Wine Troub, who is a famous producer and in the entertainment industry for many years, and it's stories about his life. It's I really enjoying it. But once again, and there's a pattern I notice. So I read a ton of books and watch a lot of documentaries about successful people across many realms, so arts, entertainment business. I really like to just hear their life stories and learn how they were able to take their vision, for whatever it was, and make it come to life. I really respect and admire people who have such dedication to their craft. So I love these kinds of books and movies and I watch and listen to them all the time. ...

And there's a pattern that is so obvious to me, because while I love these stories and respect these people and admire them, I always notice that there's a pattern underneath where all of these people had the luxury to act on their ambition. What I mean by that is they have the time because they're not saddled with childcare responsibilities or chores at home. They have freedom, they have more of what is most important, which is time. I remember reading the Steve Jobs biography years ago by Walter Isaacson. It's a great I loved it. It's a beast of a book. It's six hundred pages. Six of them are about his daughter, the daughter that he denied paternity for and the daughter who lived with the mom down the street from apple and like destitute poverty. Well, Steve Jobs is making like two hundred million dollars on the IPO for apple and I just remember it struck me as interesting that six out of six hundred pages were dedicated to his daughter or were written about, you know, his interaction, involvement, the daughter's role in his life. And I always think, you know, if in thirty, forty years I'm fortunate enough to have had success and somebody writes, I meant somebody writes a biography on me, I can't imagine six only, you know, less than one percent of it being about my kids or me being a mom. It's such a central narrow is so central to the narrative of my life. So when you read these books, another one to shoot dog by Phil Knight, another I love that book. Another example. I don't even think he has six pages about his kids. I think there's like one or two. And I'm not...

...saying these men are bad or don't care about their kids. I'm nearly making the observation of this pattern. He's really successful. People didn't have their time constrained by childcare responsibilities. That's the point that I'm making here. I've also never read the biography or or memoir of somebody in that level, that's Strat of success, who was a single mom or a single dad. And there's this line. So Steve Jobs by raphy was great, and then I read years later his daughter's memoir, small FRY. Her name is Lisa and she talks about living with her mom all those years of her youth where they were unwelfare and her mother was this struggling artist who really was finding it impossible to take care of this, to care of Lisa and work. And you know, again, while they live down the street from Steve Jobs, said tow hundred million dollars, but didn't mention that part. There's this line from small fry where she's talking about what it was like living with her mom, who was so resentful and frustrated about not having freedom or the resources she needed to be both a mom and an artist. And they were watching a show about whales, and whales are born sort of knowing how to swim. Their independent of their their parents, and she recalls watching this with her mom and her mom saying, quote, that's how it should be. No diapers, no being stuck, no mind numbing tasks. I think there's it was heartbreaking, heartbreaking to me because down the road, Steve Jobs had the luxury of time to pursue his ambition and while Lisa, I'm sorry, Lisa's mom, Chris and had made the ultimate sacrifice. It just resonated. I really felt that. And you know, you can be saddled with other things besides childcare,...

I mean poverty, things like that. So it's not the only thing, but it's the thing that I've experienced in my lifetime. When you really go through these books on success and these biopics and documentaries, they always talk about the elements that really made these people successful, so their creativity, their drive and ambition. There you know, sometimes it's luck, rarely ever mentioned. I don't know, I can't recall ever hearing this, but maybe I'm wrong, but I can't ever recall hearing one of the most critical elements being discussed, which is the freedom of time, that somebody else was taking care of the childcare responsibilities so that these people could go out and make their mark on the world. This idea that women do more the just proportionate amount of childcare and home responsibilities. This isn't new. This is something that I wrote about and Le Now it's been sort of the case for since the dawn of humanity. It's gotten an extra attention recently because of COVID and we're all being home and you know, once again this issue is coming to light, but it's always been there, it's always been in the background and the one thing that we don't talk a lot about is why this happens. The dominant theory we just all assume it's culture that there. At least that's the conventional wisdom, that women are sort of culturally conditioned to play the homemaker role and our expectations of our boys and our girls are different. And it's really important that the reason, that we get the reason right, because for a solution to be effective we have to be addressing the real, true root cause. So, because we think it's culture, we try and fix it by tinkering with our expectations or how we treat our children or how we talk to our boys versus our girls, etc. I have a different theory, though. About why...

...women do more, of course, and I don't think that it's culture. I think it's much simpler than that. I think women feel more guilt and it causes them to do more. When the kids are sitting around at home, I feel guilty. I feel like they should be doing something. If I'm working in their home, I feel guilty that I'm that I'm working. I think that not all men, of course, but I think for a lot of men they just don't have that feeling of guilt and the reason that that's an issue. So we are driven. so much of our behavior and our decisions are driven to alleviate bad feelings. So we eat to get rid of the feeling of hunger, you know. We exercise to get rid of the feeling of, you know, being sort of out of shape. That's a prime marry driver. So if women feel feel more guilt when it comes to childcare related things, they're going to do more to alleviate that guilt. And if men don't feel that guilt, they kind of don't see and they don't see the behavior as important. This isn't a scientific theory that I read and research has been maybe research has been done. I haven't seen any it's just my observation over time. A lot of the men I know they're really great guys. They're good dad's and they're good people and they want to contribute fifty. They want that to be even. But because they don't feel like a lot of stuff is necessary, then the pie of things to split is smaller. So I think that starts a lot of arguments and resentments because women end up nagging their husband's to do something the husbands don't feel as necessary because feelings of guilt aren't triggered in the same in the same way. So if you buy into the idea that it's emotional or physiological, then what are the possible solutions? How Do you liberate women from the tyranny of child care?...

Well, it turns out we've done this successfully many times throughout history. For example, the washing machine is had more of an impact on women's freedom than anything we've done in the past fifty years. For much of human history, cleaning clothes and linen's that was a woman's job and it was incredibly labor intensive. It used to be that women would spend entire days of the week dedicated to laundry. So the invention of the washing machine freed up massive amounts of time that previously been devoted to these pointless, repetitive tasks. And in the twenty century, and you know it's not just washing machines, refrigerator, electric stove, when these things were made accessible to more than just very rich people, not to mention the birth control pill, which blew this all up, because now women could control when and how many kids they had. These inventions freed up massive time and as a result, women entered the workforce. So in one thousand nineteen hundred, five percent of married women had jobs. In one thousand nine hundred and eighty fifty one percent. Women's Liberation came on the heels of these inventions. So what is this tell us? It tells us that technology that is aimed at reducing household Labor has been the number one catalyst for Women's liberation. Now What's interesting is today we live in a technical technology economy. Everything is Tech, tech, tech, so why isn't anything else come along since the birth control pill? What do we do today that could be automated that we're ignoring? I think part of the reason that we haven't had any revolutionary invention in the past fifty years is because we've been so focused on getting women to climb the ladder and make more money. That's really been the focus of modern feminism, but there hasn't been any focus about putting there...

...hasn't been any time or energy devoted to figuring out how we're going to make the time for women to go out and climb the ladder. There's nobody focused on how to tackle the demands of child care and domestic chores. So we're adding more responsibility on the career and financial side without taking any away on the childcare side, and I think this is left women worse off. So if we know and invention that free up time is really the catalyst, what would that look like today? So years ago, I'm going to tell you what my idea is. I came up with this business idea many years ago and it was based on the idea that throughout human history, women dealt with the burdens of child care by dividing Labor. Back then, people didn't live in these isolated houses with phones and entertainment. There's more of community and communal aspect to raising children and with that they approached tasks of child care by dividing Labor among the women. So some wash clothes, some supervised kids, some prepared food. But today we live in our own little boxes, with each home having to be sort of recreated. The wheel has to be recreated all the time. All the clothes, all the supervision, all the cooking, all the cleaning, all the financial stuff follows on the woman every day. The wheel must be invented all over again and it's so inefficient and that inefficiency ends up being shoulder by us. So I was thinking about this all the time a few years ago and I first moved, was more than a few six over six now. When I first moved into the neighborhood where I am now, my kids were very young, like my oldest was four or five, my twins were two or three and I was working in the city of Google. I had three hours a day, I was commuting and I had a babysitter to be there with the kids after school. But I was so overwhelmed. I had just moved. I was overwhelmed by the tasks, the mundane...

...making lunches, the dinners of plateates, the after school clubs, like I remember one night driving home from work and I remembered I had to get, or we were told that day. I remember exactly, but the twins were doing art project in their preschool the next day and they had to bring smocks into their class and they I just remember thinking like where do I get a smock? It's an occurred to me at the time I could use an old tshirt, so let's put that aside for a second. In my mind I had to like go find an apron, a professional smock, and I'm thinking like where do I get a friend? This is the last thing on earth I want to deal with right now. And it sounds small when I tell the story, but in the moment I just felt crushed by it. I don't think Gett. You know there's all these women in the neighborhood. Oh, I didn't know yet, but a lot of them don't work and they had all day to get a small I wish I could just find one of them give her money for the smack and an extra twenty bucks for the trouble. Then I was thinking I'd also pay twenty bucks for a mom to pack an extra three lunches every day that she's already packing lunch for her kids. So would she be willing to just pack three more same lunches for certain amount of money. Or what if a MOM LOVES TO COOK? Right? She loves cooking, she cooks a homemade meal for her family every night. I'd love to give my kids a homemade meal. If she could just siphon off three extra portions, I'd be willing to pay for that. So I had a great job and a lucrative I had a great salary, so I had extra money, but I didn't have any time and I knew there were a lot of MOMS in the neighborhood that had extra time, but they weren't there making they weren't making their own money. And this is a classic economic dynamic or opportunity where you trade time for money. And at first I was thinking,...

Oh, maybe I could use task grab it, but when you're dealing with your children and child related or school related tasks, that's an just go to anyway. You need to trust the person. So I was also thinking I'd pay someone, you know, to take my kids home from school so I didn't have to sort of think about this stuff every day. But when a mom, and so going back to the task rabbit, this stuff kind of exists in pockets, but there's not that trust, but with a mom in the neighborhood whose kids go to my kids school, that trust is more implicit or automatic. So I started sketching this business idea out on paper. I thought, you know, Uber Works by connecting riders demand rides with the excess capacity of drivers. That's it, that's you were in a nutshell. So what if we had something like that for mom's local to their child school, something that connects the excess capacity of stayathome mom's with the excess income of working moms? Now, I understand not all working moms have excess income and they're still just trying to make ends meet, but in case there are a lot of cases where working moms would be willing to true to give money to save their time. So, for example, I always thought if I pay someone to do my laundry, not really paying them for the laundry, I'm paying for the time that that frees up that I could spend with my kids or do other things that I wanted to do, and I know that as kids grow into elementary school age. I knew a lot of women who had left the workforce to be a stay at home mom and then suddenly as their kids got older, they found themselves with lots of extra time in their hands and their husband's are working and they still have to be cautious about money and, you know, they kind of feel like they don't have anything of their own. So I thought, you know, this would give them an opportunity...

...to make their own money for very little extra effort. And if you could connect moms in this way, then suddenly you had this virtual community of MOMS helping each other and it almost recreates those close knit communities of the past where women helped each other by division of Labor. And the best part, in my opinion, of this idea is the name, because I wanted to call it my wife. Now, whether you think this is a good idea or not, what it does is address an underlying issue that constrains our time and limits our freedom and it uses technology to solve that problem and it freeze up time of a working mom and it gives financial independence for stay at home moms. And I really like this idea of, you know, mom's helping MOMS, that we're not feeding into this whole, you know, dumb stereotype of how there's some divide between us and then maybe the best part is we get more freedom. It doesn't depend on women nagging their husband's to do stuff all the time. So that was is my solution for liberating women from the tyranny of child care, and I went so far as to make a business plan and all this stuff. But I've learned over the years I'm not the kind of person. I'm an entrepreneur in the creative realm. I love writing and speaking and all that kind of stuff, podcast all that stuff, but building a business requires a whole other set of talents that I do not possess. I still think the ideas merit. I think it could create a new billion dollar industry and economy by empowering women and I think it's the true essence of when we use these pithy phrases like women helping women. You what does that mean? But in this way with my wife, that's a true manifestation of...

...women helping women in a way that gives us more power, more freedom and more time. So I love to hear from you guys, what you think on this topic. I'm don't want to just be in an echo chamber, so hit me up on instagram or twitter at Marissa Beth or or on Linkedin. I love to hear your thoughts on this episode in general and any other solutions that you guys have in mind or your thoughts, so don't hesitate to reach out. Hope you guys enjoyed this episode and I will talk to you next time on nice girls, don't watch the bachelor. Have a great day.

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