Nov. 23, 2021
Brigid Schulte and Haley Swenson were interviewed by CNN about the holidays and the gendered division of labor:
CNN: Let's start by stating the problem. How much more domestic and invisible labor, (i.e. the planning, organizing and internal ticker-taping), do women do?
Haley Swenson: The unfair division of labor between women and men when it comes to unpaid labor remains, despite women's advances in the workforce. In non-holiday periods, mothers do two to three times as much as fathers, and the holiday season is a moment that really exacerbates that imbalance. Polling on it, as well as ethnographic research, shows that it's mostly Mom who manages holidays.
Brigid Schulte: There is a longstanding tradition that women not only come home to the second shift of housework and childcare, but they are also expected to do what we call "the third shift" of creating the holiday magic. Let me tell you, as a parent, the "magic" is the hardest. When my son was 13, I asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said, "Mom, I love it when you surprise me, just create the magic." And I thought, "Noooo, just tell me what you want! So I can get it!"
This pressure can make the day really awful for the person who is planning it all. Look at stress that happens over the holidays, and depression. It's really untenable for women. The holidays are magic for everyone except Mom.