Playing the Game

Dear readers,

Last week I talked about the new system Tom and I are trying out called Fair Play. We’re one week and one day in and it’s going pretty well! The biggest improvement last week was around meals: Tom was in charge of lunches and dinners Monday through Wednesday and I was in charge of dishes on those days. That meant all I had to do was sit down to meals and enjoy the delicious food Tom had cooked and Tom was free to go as soon as the meal was finished. Obvious benefits included a tidy kitchen and practically zero time spent discussing “What are we going to do about lunch and dinner today?”.

Another bonus was zero takeaways in seven days. Tom had the “groceries” card which includes keeping the fridge stocked throughout the week and going out for groceries if necessary. He let me know ahead of time that he was planning to go out for groceries on Wednesday, so I had some time to pick out a couple recipes for the Thursday and Friday meals I was in charge of and prepare a shopping list. By the time Thursday rolled around, all I had to do was execute on my plan: I already knew what meal I was cooking and all the ingredients were available. Which is not to say that I don’t like throwing a meal together with whatever we have lying around the kitchen, but at the end of a taxing work day, I’d much rather chop vegetables on autopilot!

The Monday-Wednesday and Thursday / Friday split worked well for us too, because Tom and I both have reduced work weeks: we both work 32 hours, me from Monday to Thursday and Tom, from Monday to Friday. That means that Tom has more time to cook and shop on days where I work full-time and Thursday evening is my “Friday” evening so I’m generally in a pretty good frame of mind and up for cooking.

One aspect we’re struggling with at the moment is keeping track of the cards we each hold and remembering what the “minimum standards of care” (MSC) for each card are. (The MSC refer to the mutually agreed expectations for a task, e.g. does the “dishes” card include wiping down surfaces or not? It sounds mundane, but it’s the small things that cause the most friction). Right now, we’ve stuck a photo of the cards we each hold up on the kitchen wall but we both found that wasn’t visually engaging enough: we barely looked the cards all week. We’ve now tweaked the system a little by annotating some of the cards depicted on the printouts with MSC’s so that we don’t have to keep them all in our head, but the result still isn’t great. Next step might be to buy a whiteboard and maybe even turn the cards into magnets… If anyone else has tried the system, I’d be curious to know what works for them.

In terms of re-dealing and adding or discarding cards to the deck, we haven’t changed much. Apart from cards that represent chores that need to be done regularly like “weekday breakfasts”, one week isn’t enough time to get ahead on bigger tasks like “school forms” which in our case translates to “kita applications”.

For those of you not living in Germany, applying for a kindergarten (i.e. kita) place in Berlin is a BIG DEAL. Most children don’t start going until they’re one year old but the process of finding a place for them often starts before they’re even born—hence why we’re starting now. There’s no centralised system to allocate places so what happens is that parents apply to a hundreds kitas or more (yes, you read that right: one hundred) to ensure that their little ones get in. The good news for me is that Tom is handling that card for now 😅


Something else I mentioned last week was the podcast “I Weigh” by Jameela Jamil. Some of you might know her as the actress who plays Tahani in The Good Place (which I never really got into), but she’s also an activist bringing attention to all the pressures women are faced with when it comes to their appearance and their bodies. Like so many women, I’ve struggled with body image from the age of about 12 so it’s refreshing to listen to Jameela talk about her own struggles so candidly. She also interviews a bunch of special guests on everything from mental health, eating disorders to fat shaming and white feminism. I’ve actually been thinking about starting a second publication focused on women’s issues like body image and pregnancy which I don’t expect will appeal to everyone reading this newsletter (although I would be thrilled to be proven wrong!). The first step for me is to actually write something so I’ll keep you posted 😉

Take care,

Alicia