Experiment No. 17: The Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Take turns being the point of contact to lighten the mental load.
Blog Post
Feb. 10, 2020

The Basics

We’re Trying to Solve: More fairly sharing the parenting mental load
Target Audience: Parents and co-parents
Ages: Adults
Category: Mental load
Estimated Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy

When school officials kept calling and interrupting Ruth Bader Ginsberg at work to talk about her mischievous son, she calmly reminded them that the child had two parents. “Please alternate calls,” she told them. “It’s his father’s turn.”


  1. Take a moment to talk about who usually gets all the calls and emails from the children’s school, the PTA, or other organizations. How did that happen? At the beginning of the experiment, decide who “owns” keeping track of which institutions, activities, events, and for what period of time—the week? The month? The season?
  2. The parent who isn’t usually the one contacted reaches out to the school or other organizations overseeing an activity your child is involved with to make sure both parents’ contact information is on file. Request that notices, emails, and texts be sent to both parents. Now, no one has an excuse to reach out to the same parent again and again.
  3. Now that you’re both fully in the know, take turns taking the lead when it’s time to sign up to help with a school-related event or after-school activity. Feel free to take ownership over-communicating with particular organizations or however else you’d like to divide the work. But remember, this is work, and it isn’t fair for one parent to do it all the time.
  4. After you’ve empowered both parents to own this kind of communication, take a moment to reflect on how this new arrangement feels. Is it hard to give up being the primary parent? Is it annoying to have to pay attention to all these details and interruptions? What does this tell you about your partner’s experience in the past? How does it feel to have more of a partnership when it comes to managing the children? Has anything changed in your relationships—with each other? With your kids?

The Research Says: “In 2015, among parents with children under 18, 45.1 percent of mothers volunteered for an educational or youth service organization, compared to 36.8 percent of fathers, according to a survey by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Source: As reported by Nicole Graev Lipson

Connect With the Better Life Lab

Are you going to try this week’s experiment? Do you have a story about how you and your own family solved a problem with the work at home? Is there a specific challenge you’ve been trying to tackle? Can this experiment be improved? Please let us know via this form, at bllx@newamerica.org, or in our Facebook group for BLLx Beta Testers.

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