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Episode 38: Household Equity with Kate Engler

Updated: 4 days ago

Kate Engler


Welcome to the "Wellness in Every Season" podcast, where we embark on a transformative journey towards achieving total wellness, even in the midst of overwhelming moments. I'm your host, Autumn Carter, and I'm thrilled to have you here.

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Join us as we step out of survival mode and discover the path to thriving, embracing wellness in every season of motherhood. From sleepless nights to new beginnings, we'll explore practical strategies, share heartfelt stories, and uncover the transformative power of self-care and self-love.

Together, we'll unlock the wisdom, strength, and resilience within ourselves, reminding one another that we're never alone on this beautiful, yet demanding, journey. It's time to prioritize your well-being and reclaim your joy, one season at a time.

Autumn Carter: Welcome wellness Wanderers to episode 38 of wellness in every season today. I have Kate Engler back with me. She is a licensed couples and sex therapist and a fair play methods facilitator. And today we're going to be talking about fair play. I am so excited because of her. I read the book while I was on vacation a couple of months ago and it was amazing.

Autumn Carter: And there are little bumps in the road, but my husband and I are doing it. And I Love it. I'm recommending it my coaching practice. I have one client right now who's working with me on it and I'm just so excited. Do you want to introduce yourself a little bit more before I ask my questions?

Kate Engler: Yeah, sure. That's the Basic gist of it. I have a practice. I see primarily couples. And as you might imagine, the stuff that we'll dig into why fair play is so wonderful, but it comes up a lot. And I found it a really useful tool because division of labor in the household gets real sticky in relationships.

Autumn Carter: This will go with the question that led you to become a fair play facilitator. And what is it?

Kate Engler: Fair play is a method that was developed by this really brilliant woman. Her name is Eve Rodsky. She actually is an attorney, but she works in family law and has been really big into systems.

Kate Engler: She would tell you this all came from frustrations in her own life. And she worked for years to develop a way to more equitably Distribute household labor amongst people so that it was, the research shows unequivocally that women bear the brunt of this by a lot. And she was definitely feeling the burden of that and seeing that amongst the women in her world.

Kate Engler: And that's what led her to develop this. The book came out in 2019 and there's some cards that go along with it. I can talk more about those. I think those came out the following year and you can imagine during the pandemic, this just exploded. I think it, quadrupled in popularity or something.

Kate Engler: I know from my own life, I always joke, I wish this had come out before because it would've been easier than my husband and I slogging our way through it to find it. But this came to me. I've always talked about division of labor in my couple's work, it was actually. It's weird, but it was really frowned upon in the field of couples therapy for a long time.

Kate Engler: The notion was that it was too tit for tat, and that it was scorekeeping, and that it was never really about the dishwasher. And there are times that's true, but oftentimes it actually is about who's loading the dishes, and who's filling out the school forms. And, the thing that always surprised me was...

Kate Engler: People kind of pooh poohed the idea of talking about it, but the research shows so strongly that relationship satisfaction and fairness and division of labor could really go hand in hand. I would talk about it a lot in my sessions, and then when I came across this book, I actually don't even remember how I found it.

Kate Engler: Kind of by accident, I think, I stumbled upon it. I was so grateful because now I had something I could really point clients to. When the cards came out, I actually started using them in my office with people and I feel it's a really clear and concise and digestible way for people to sort this out in their own relationships.

Kate Engler: There is an

Autumn Carter: app that I have that my super tech savvy husband found that actually has the cards in it and it's super helpful so we can on the go on any device we have look it up. Tell us what she fault parent is.

Autumn Carter: I really resonated with that and dig deeper in division of labor. What is that?

Kate Engler: Yeah, the she fault is such a great term. It's a term that Eve Radsky, I think coined, but that we all know so deeply. It's this notion that, we, if we're talking about, cisgender heterosexual couples, men married women married to men. It tends to be that there is this idea that household labor, everything to do with anything related to the kids, to the household, to school stuff, grocery shopping, all is the women's, the woman's job. And even if people don't say it explicitly, it shows up in all these sneaky ways.

Kate Engler: Any of you who have kids in school know this, the school will always call the mom. They will call the mom, they send the emails to the mom, if there's birthday parties, the mom gets the text, Evite, if there's, and there was actually this woman, you guys may have seen this, it came out there was this viral thing, I think it was on Instagram or TikTok, this woman went around on the playground and started asking all the dads for their text messages, text, or phone numbers, sorry, so she could send Evites for her kid's birthday, and 90 percent of them gave her their wives.

Kate Engler: And so the notion of she fault is just it's a woman's job to do it. And if the men are doing it, they're helping her. And I'm doing air quotes because it makes me crazy. They're helping her out by doing it. So that's the she fault

Autumn Carter: part. Wait. So when you're babysitting your own kids, Oh God,

Kate Engler: I could go on for days about that one.

Kate Engler: Yes. Rather than parenting. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. And then household labor is. Every single thing that you can ever imagine that is what allows a family to function and a household to run. And so we're going back to Eve Rodsky when she started this, she had this day, she was out with some friends, and they I think were doing a breast cancer walk, and then they were going to go have lunch, and I think maybe go to the spa or something.

Kate Engler: And by the time they got to lunch, I think she said there were a hundred text messages from the male partners about do the kids need lunch? Yes, they do. Where's the birthday present? Where? And so a lot of the women just said, forget it. It's not worth it. I'm just going to go home. In a moment of frustration, Eve came home and created this Excel spreadsheet.

Kate Engler: She started just listing everything I do. She called it the shit I do. Excel spreadsheet. And she just wrote down okay, I make breakfast in the morning. I pack lunches. I do the school forms, and then she started sending it around to her friends saying, add to this as needed. And suddenly, and then they were sending it on to women all over the world and they were adding to it.

Kate Engler: My favorite one she talks about is this woman was you have putting sunscreen on the kids as like 20 minute chase. To pin them down before you do the sunscreen, and she was attributing time to all of this too, to start to really see how much, how many hours we were all spending doing this.

Kate Engler: And I think her Excel spreadsheet ended up having 50 or 100 tabs on it that listed every, so it just really points out. All the little tiny things that we take for granted that happen, and we call it often invisible labor because stuff just happens. My mom calls this FM, which is effing magic, which means that basically like it's effing magic.

Kate Engler: Your laundry just appeared in your room and it's clean. It's effing magic that food you want is in the refrigerator when you want it. And if you don't know that someone is actually planning it, thinking about it, doing it, you just think it appears there. And so that's all that's encompassed in this system.

Kate Engler: It's literally trying to tackle every single thing that, ever goes into making your lives run well.

Autumn Carter: I don't think I could have summed any of that up nearly as well as he did. That was so great. I love it. The app is called Notion and I will make sure to link it everywhere. It's a free app and Notion is used for other things. It took me a little bit to figure out how to use Notion but It's really helpful to not have to carry around the cards everywhere.

Autumn Carter: That's great. I'm actually going to share that with some clients. Somebody just asked me today if there was an app for it, and I wasn't familiar

Autumn Carter: with it.

Autumn Carter: I'll send that to you later.

Autumn Carter: Yes. Okay, great. Thank you. Super helpful. Yes. Especially on the go is that my task? Is that yours? Instead of having to email back and forth about it, which we're still doing, I really just need to look at the app. I need that reminder.

Autumn Carter: Is there anything else that you want to tell us about Fair Play before we move on to Unicorn Space?

Kate Engler: Oh, yeah, actually a couple things about Fair Play I think that make it really different and that are really critically important. And these are the things I find I spend the most time on with couples.

Kate Engler: The thing I think is so brilliant in this is this concept called CPE which is Conception Planning and Execution. And it takes it, I would imagine many of the people that are list your listeners know this, right? It's this notion of helping versus actually doing the job. Delegating requires it to stay on your mental list, right?

Kate Engler: If you have to say, yes, Jimmy has to go to Suzy's birthday party on Saturday, you need to go to Target and get a gift, and then, be home and take him to Chuck E. Cheese at this time, that's all fine that your partner Goes to Target when you tell them, gets the gift you ask them to, goes to Tuck YouTube.

Kate Engler: But that still requires you to hold all of the information about getting there. And that's some of the mental load that we know causes burnout for women. There's 3. 2 million cases of burnout for women every year. It's bonkers. So conception planning and execution means when you take on a task, it means you are responsible for all of those things.

Kate Engler: That means you are, so if I own the birthday parties task, which My god, I don't ever want that task. It means you are talking to the parents. You're RSVPing to the parents. You are the one that they are talking to when the invite comes in. If someone needs to be there, like when your kids are little, you're staying or you're making sure that you connected with your partner on that front.

Kate Engler: You're deciding what's getting purchased. You're going to target. You're getting the wrapping. You're doing the whole thing. You know the address for Chuck E. Cheese. You know the time that it begins and it ends and you're managing all of it. If you have the card for cleaning the floor, you're paying attention to when the floor mop is broken, when the soap used to clean the floor is running out, that if the kids ran in with the dog that was muddy, that you need a different kind of floor cleaner because they just ruined the rug.

Kate Engler: Conception planning and execution is critical. It moves it away from this notion that men are helping women and gets everybody responsible. And then minimum standard of care. The other thing is I just don't care about clean in the same way you do, I just don't care about these things as much as you do, which is also baloney.

Kate Engler: Because things being done well are what makes our life function well, right? When people are working on this as a couple, they come to an agreement about what is our minimum standard of care? So if it's that the floors, you have the floor cleaning card, you both talk through it and determine okay, what floor clean means to me, what it means to you, what do we agree a reasonable person, that's the threshold, would say needs to be a clean floor, and you both agree to do that.

Kate Engler: One of the big ones might be like, thank you cards for kids. Okay, Timmy and Susie have to write one within three weeks after they get the thing, okay, if that's your card, you're making sure it's happening. So I think that kind of differentiates Fair Play from other things in that it really pushes full accountability and ownership of each of the tasks.

Autumn Carter: Some of the fights are over you need to be doing this stuff, and some of it is the standard of care, so it gets rid of Two different fights that are super common. So I really love that and from us doing it My husband decided I will take on thank you cards as long as instead of a card It can be me recording a video and sending it to the person sold done.

Autumn Carter: I'm not doing it. Cool done. And a big one was the photos. I thought that I needed a scrapbook and it needed to be on me and I was years behind. We got rid of all the scrapbooking supplies. There's a nice little hole behind me right there. It's nice and pretty. I just want to leave it a hole just to remind me that I took it off.

Autumn Carter: And instead, We have Apple TV and my husband being the tech genius that he is, he has the photos, and now finally going through and organizing his million photos. Some of them are just of a wall that he was fixing. I don't need that. He's deleting photos and he has them where they cycle through on the TV.

Autumn Carter: So the kids can all see the photos and I don't have to scrapbook them and ta da, they're done. He's editing them. It's huge, I love it. There are little pits where we still need some time to figure out the little kinks, but overall, it's huge, and I never remember the acronym, so I always call it something different and funny each time that we chuckle.

Autumn Carter: There's so many people that I've seen where they don't agree on what CLEAN actually is for this, or what constitutes as being done, and It's huge because one person thinks it's done and the other one doesn't and vice versa. One person thinks they're wasting too much energy and they should be working on this.

Autumn Carter: Where if people have their own tasks, they're focusing on their tasks. They're not looking at the other person. It's gives so much bandwidth. Is there anything else that you wanted to share about it? Because we could go on for a while. Yeah, I can

Kate Engler: talk about it for days. I love your scrapbook example, right?

Kate Engler: Because that's one where sometimes there's a knee jerk reaction of I just don't care about that stuff. Except when you start to dig more, and a lot of this is getting into values based conversations I'm going to say stuff that might not be true about you and or your spouse, but I'm just running with your example of the scrapbooks, right?

Kate Engler: I would bet that everybody would be really happy to see pictures of the kids as they grow up because you know how quickly it happens and that you would like to have some remembrance of being able to look back on fun family trips and all that. And so you start to dig a little bit and then the person would say yeah, of course I care about that.

Kate Engler: Yeah. I want to be able to have pictures at my kid's wedding of when they were little and sure that all matters. And then you say okay, how's that going to happen? That's the FM part which is that doesn't just happen one day. It's funny. My husband, I get it.

Kate Engler: We were talking about this morning when we were first married, we would have this thing like gifts for his family and I would say don't you feel they should get gifts on their birthday? Yes, of course. Okay why is it my job? And he'd say it's not your job. And I'd say, okay if it's not your job and it's not my job, how exactly does this get done?

Kate Engler: And he would just look at me with this blank stare, so that's some of that stuff where you start to get to if this matters to us. Then let's figure it out and I think to your point about the scrapbook thing is when you start to get into those conversations and you can stick with what's the important part because the important part is we get to see the pictures of the kids do maybe less important is the paper, actual book and the time of that part of it. Maybe that doesn't help us meet our values, but the actually doing it this way does. You can really get away from some of the arguments that way that I think are really important. One other thing I wanted to touch on too is within the tasks, there's a set of them called the daily grind.

Kate Engler: And these are the cards that you don't get to choose when you do it. if my card is mowing the lawn, I can do it when I want to, it doesn't have to be every day. It's mostly on my time. And if I pick a beautiful Saturday, that's great. But making my kids breakfast when they were little, making sure that school bags are ready to go, some of that more thankless stuff that has to happen every day and not on your own time.

Kate Engler: There's, if you look at some of the research about that, The person in a family who has the tasks that you have the least agency over you don't get to pick when they happen, is more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the person who has the task of you get to clean a garage when you feel like it, you get to hang pictures when you feel like it, they're not the daily thing.

Kate Engler: So I also love about this system that those are differentiated and those come first. And those are the ones that are really critical to divide the most equitably. I want to be clear about equitable, not equal, right? What's equitable for your family is not the same as what's for my family. Again, this is my research nerd in me.

Kate Engler: What we know is it's about perceived fairness, right? So if. If your husband and you are 50 50 and that feels great to you. Wonderful. If we're 70 30, like my husband holds 70 percent of the cars and I hold 30 and that feels fair to us, that's great too. Where things get dicey is if it feels like it's not fair.

Kate Engler: And if it feels like your partner is another dependent, that's where we see real issues in relationship satisfaction. And this really great study came out two years ago, which was one of those studies of yeah, duh, thanks for telling us something we knew, but thanks, now we have the research.

Kate Engler: Partners who hold more of the domestic load, who feel it's unfair, and feel their partner is a dependent, sexual desire goes way down. So it significantly impacts physical parts of the relationship, too. It feels pretty obvious, but it was nice to have the research to back that up.

Autumn Carter: I don't know about you, but I don't want to have sex with somebody who's a kid to me.

Kate Engler: No, we're actually wired to not want to do that. We are supposed to have that thing where this is something and our brain does not go there if they're, like, our own child. So if somebody... tries to, your brain is no, thank you.

Kate Engler: I'm not into that.

Autumn Carter: Yeah, past. Repeat that part about depression again. Just that needs to settle in deeper. Yeah. So they,

Kate Engler: they split, this isn't necessarily language from fair play. This is own nerdy researchy things that I do. I think they're called low threshold and high threshold tasks.

Kate Engler: I think I'm getting that wrong, but a task where you get to decide when it happens, right? Mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage raking, I don't know, things that can happen. Grocery shopping. Yes, exactly. And grocery shopping could be If you plan it out. Exactly. That's one where you have a lot of say and agency over when you do it, right?

Kate Engler: It's not necessarily going to impact anyone else's daily functioning. And I can choose if it's rainy, I can say, I'm not going to move along today, but if it's a gorgeous day and I'm going to be outside and listen to music, I can pick that. Then there's these other tasks where they are directly impacting other people.

Kate Engler: They're not done on your own time. And they usually aren't necessarily for your benefit. They're often for the benefit of other people. So it is like making your kids breakfast, getting their bag packed. It could be grocery shopping depending on Diapers. Diapers. For sure. Bathtime. These things that , have to happen for the day to day life.

Kate Engler: And I'm talking about kid stuff, but there's also household functioning things, right? That if you don't have children in your home if there is one person in the relationship who the majority of the tasks that they're responsible for are those things that you don't get to say when they happen. Then Yeah.

Kate Engler: I don't get to say to my three year old, I don't feel like making breakfast today. Sorry, buddy. I don't get to do that, right? You are more likely to experience anxiety and depression. Then you would be if you have a lot of the tasks that are, give you more and unfortunately, historically, because of the way we do gender roles in our culture, typically, men have held the tasks that have a lot of agency about when and where they happen, and women have tended to hold the tasks that are more for the benefit of other people and required to happen at a time, whether you want them to or not.

Autumn Carter: I'm going to need to think about that more. That's so true. Let's just let that sink in. Just that's so true. Seeing that with my dad, him being a single parent, we lived with my grandparents, too. So He was basically another child like an older brother in a lot of ways.

Autumn Carter: But the tasks that he didn't want to do that were his chores growing up, he then gave to me that are more of the daily tasks and how much he tried to be like, you need to fit into this woman role. And here's the male role. And no, and it's still It's sometimes weird to me when I hear of women who don't cook.

Autumn Carter: I'm like, huh. That's a great way to make sure that you don't get one of the major cards though. So I enjoy cooking. Yeah. Not all the time. It has to be fun. You have to find ways to make it fun for me to want to do it, but what helps is my husband does it during some days of the week too. So he gets the weekend, I get the weekdays and he takes the kids to activities.

Autumn Carter: So there's a way of having a balance out and now it's, there's more room for fun. Plus I listen to music while I cook and do some dancing and make it fun. Yes.

Kate Engler: And I think that's a great example because it can be relentless and thankless to be cooking. When you have people that come in the kitchen and go Ew, what's that smell?

Kate Engler: I don't want to eat this. That's not fun. But if you get some breaks from it and you get to do it in times when you choose Ooh, today I'm going to make this new fun thing. I'm going to have some music on. I'm going to dance around the kitchen and nobody's going to bug me. Technically it's the same thing on paper, but the experience of it is so different and you can see how one is soul sucking at times, and the other is really soul nourishing,

Autumn Carter: and I don't have all four kids with me because one of them is inevitably gone to an activity. So there's a little bit of break from all four of the kids. Plus if they're bugging me enough, guess what? They're helping me. I delegate. Amazing. I was really good at doing that with the kids. And then it's realizing with the cards Oh, okay.

Autumn Carter: I need to re delegate some of these things. And now I'm slowly doing some of the household cleaning chores. I don't love these ones, honey. Can you take some of these? Good for you. Yeah. I did that last night.

Kate Engler: You, if you go to the website, if you search the Fair Play Method, there's a whole facilitator page. And there's some people. That their background is really in working with new parents. There's other people who are coaches for women. There's people that do a bit. So it runs the gamut, but you can find people in your area. You can find people that can see you remotely there too.

Autumn Carter: And you can find people who are super fans who haven't done it yet. Hi. Tell me about unicorn space and why it's important. This is something that I realized. When I was re reading the book, re reading certain parts, I have my unicorn space, and what I was missing was self care. When you're talking about this, if you can differentiate between those two, that'd be really helpful, because I had to go back through and really dig into what is the difference for me, and how does that look.

Kate Engler: I love that you just separated those two out from the start because it can be a little confusing. Unicorn space is really, like, When I say creative, I'm using a very broad umbrella when I say creative expression. What's creative for you might be different than cooking might be a creative expression, right?

Kate Engler: Dancing it could be writing, it could be art. It's not just like we think of art, but it's whatever kind of way you really nourish yourself and express yourself that makes you a whole person, fills you up, and helps you feel good in the world. I don't know, are you familiar with the concept of flow state?

Kate Engler: No. It's this psychological concept, you've probably experienced it, but it's essentially like when you're working on something, and it can be something really hard, but something that you love and you feel passionate about, you're super into, and it's like time evaporates, you look up and four hours have gone by, okay,

Autumn Carter: Yes, love that when that happens, except as a parent, sometimes it's oh, they're already awake already? Darn it, that nap was like two minutes. Yes,

Kate Engler: exactly. There's some sort of overlap with unicorn space and and flow state, but the biggest thing is this is about what fills you up.

Kate Engler: And really, none of us have enough time for this, but it's so critically important to be a whole person, right? To feel good in your own skin to feel like you're really filling yourself up. This is different than self care. Self care might be hanging with your friends. I don't know, getting a massage, going to, it could be, taking a nap, taking a walk.

Kate Engler: That's all good stuff and critically important too, but unicorn space is a little bit different because it's the thing that really gives you spark, right? Scrapbooking for you, maybe at one time was unicorn spacious because it allowed you to express, but maybe now it's become burdensome. So it doesn't fall in that category anymore.

Kate Engler: It might be something really purpose driven, right? It could be volunteering, it could be mentoring. It might be really getting in the dirt with your hands. Maybe you want to garden in your own backyard. Or maybe you're in a community garden. It's whatever the thing is that just lights you up.

Kate Engler: Self care is ... The stuff that you need to do to just physically feel okay, mentally be okay, taking care of your body and all of that and unicorn space is the next level. And unfortunately women tend to have less. Available time, less time where you're unavailable to your family.

Kate Engler: That's another big thing about Fair Play is making sure that all of us have time, we're unavailable, right? If you have something that matters to you. Let's say it was still scrapbooking or you had painting or something that you like to do, you need time to go off and paint without your kids interrupting you, without your spouse saying, Hey, have you seen the mop to go and get yourself into that flow state while you're doing it to fully immerse yourself in it in a way that you are unavailable to anybody else in the world unless you want to be. And I think we let this fall to the bottom of a priority list way too often.

Autumn Carter: I like how she talked about how it's a hobby that you want to do for six months and because that you to evolve because we do with each child, with each stage of life with we evolve. You should evolve, because it makes you more interesting as a person. More interesting conversations, more learning, it's really good.

Autumn Carter: And then what was the other part? Oh, she also talked about how it should be something that is giving to your community. It's not just for you. And when you were talking, I was trying to dig into why, because I've been wondering about this. And I think, because if you feel you're giving to somebody, you're more likely to do it than if you're just doing it for yourself.

Autumn Carter: And you have people who are enjoying different aspects of it with you. Is what I was thinking. What are your thoughts? Yeah,

Kate Engler: I think that I would say that it can be something that gives to your community. I think there's these different ways. It doesn't necessarily have to be, right? If you during the pandemic, I suffered pretty intense burnout.

Kate Engler: I just reached a point where I was a mess. I started dialing back my clients and I started thinking about what did I used to do when I was a kid that really just made me feel alive and excited. I was in dance forever. So I started taking tap dancing classes. For me, that became my unicorn space.

Kate Engler: I left the house. I didn't care what anybody else was doing. My time was carved out during the week to go do this. And it was just for me. I was never going to perform for anyone else. It was going to be my thing because it made me feel back in touch with this creative part of myself, this part that really filled me up and made me excited.

Kate Engler: So Transcribed It can be like it might be for some people that's a big thing like it matters to them right one of the things I know I really lost as I used to always volunteer I mentored forever and then once I had kids it fell off so that might be another thing that I'm like I want to get back and mentor kids or I want to go back and work in the community because that really fills me up as a whole and it's tricky, the hobby part is tricky because it can be a hobby.

Kate Engler: It definitely can, if it's something that you love to do that really fills you up, but if it's just a distraction, it's not quite, it needs to be something a little meatier, I guess I would say.

Autumn Carter: I'm disagreeing with you a little bit because you were part of your community by going to class.

Autumn Carter: So maybe it's still connecting you to other people. Maybe it's part of the point. I don't know. I need to read the next book still, as you can tell. Yeah, yes

Kate Engler: and no. Again, if painting is your thing, and for you I live thankfully by this really beautiful lake, and I want to go down and every Saturday from 9 to noon, I'm going to go paint by myself at the lake, that would also totally count.

Kate Engler: But what matters is about I'm Wanting to increase my , let's say I just I'm not a painter. So I'm going to butcher this. I'm sure i've never used watercolors before and so i've decided i'm going to teach myself to do this. i'm going to go down every saturday come hell or high water and paint And sometimes it's going to look really ugly and sometimes i'm going to learn a new trick Yes, i'm in my community in that place, but it's also really for me.

Kate Engler: I think the key part is about The nourishment of your soul, which sounds really woo and whatever else, but it's a thing that really fuels you. For me. Sometimes research for me is a unicorn space thing. Actually, one time I was at a training with Eve, and she was talking about this, and I think we narrowed out about it similarly, right?

Kate Engler: Is, I could go down the rabbit hole, I could spend two days doing research, and it makes me excited, and I feel alive, and I want to talk about it, I'm totally geeked out. And then there's other times I have to do it for something. And I'm like, I don't know. I have to do this today. It's work. It's not unicorn space.

Kate Engler: So that does that make sense? The differentiation can be the same activity, but it's what it's doing for you that matters most. I

Autumn Carter: think it's what fills your well versus what fills your cup. Yes. Because the well can hold so much more water and you need to reach for that when your cup is empty.

Autumn Carter: That's great. Yeah. Okay.

Autumn Carter: And we definitely need that extra nourishment for our soul. It might sound woo.

Autumn Carter: I don't think it does, but I'm a life coach, whatever. But you need the deeper not just... Skin deep, something that like really gets in there and fills in crevices that have been festering or whatever. Yeah. Full heart healing type of thing. Is there anything else regarding unicorn space?

Autumn Carter: Other

Kate Engler: than saying put it at the top of the heap, if you decide to do the cards you will never have enough time. We live in a culture where nobody has enough time to even do their day to day life things, but it doesn't become something else on your list you feel you're not doing and you're failing at.

Kate Engler: You want it to feel good and when tap dancing got to be something that was actually just taking time away and it wasn't soul filling for me anymore, I stopped. It wasn't, I just decided and I felt guilty about it first and I thought, why? It did what I needed to do. I needed to move my body for a few months in a different kind of way and be with a bunch of old ladies in a room and tap dance to dorky music like that worked for me.

Kate Engler: And now it's feeling it's weighing on me and taking some time I'd like for something else. So I'm

Autumn Carter: done with it. Everybody else needed to hear that. I did a podcast episode recently with somebody who was podcasting and decided, you know what, it's taking too much for me.

Autumn Carter: I'm not enjoying it for right now. So I'm going to take a pause and she doesn't know how long that's going to be for. If you're the one that gave yourself these tasks, why can't you then take them away? Absolutely. Yep. So I really love that. You talked about it not being a distraction.

Autumn Carter: Can you talk about that a little bit?

Kate Engler: Yeah, this is where I'm going to get real therapist y about it, right? Is that I think distraction can be great sometimes. You can't always be swimming around in Totally present that doesn't work and sometimes you need to watch a dumb TV show and melt your brain for a minute But if you are let's say you're feeling really burdened by your household stuff or there really is a really unfair Distribution of things and it's weighing on you and it's preventing you from being full in your life you go and you do this thing , you paint, you tap dance, you do whatever else, but it's mostly just to numb out.

Kate Engler: Like it's not. And that's why I think exercise doesn't necessarily fall in this category of unicorn space. That's a different thing. That doesn't really serve anybody for the long haul. You want this to be something that is, your brain is on, it's engaged, and it's active. If we had a brain scan going, we want to see all those little synapses firing crazy in those moments.

Kate Engler: If it's a numbing out, shutting down, turning off emotions thing, in very small doses, that's helpful, but that becomes problematic, because whatever feelings you're numbing just are gonna pile up, and they will make themselves known at some point. You gotta be careful with that.

Autumn Carter: That is why I quit drinking.

Autumn Carter: I quit drinking super early on. I was 19, so still under age drinking before it was legal. I realized that the things I was numbing was coming back even worse once. The numbness was off, worn off the numbness. Does that word even work? Yeah. You know what I mean? I saw my life trajectory that it was not going in the direction I wanted with that, where if I am a hundred percent engaged in my life, I can move it in the direction that I want it to go instead of being moved by the winds.

Autumn Carter: So I, I really liked that. And I think part of the distraction should go under self care. Because there are times where we just need to scroll Facebook. We're not even absorbing anything. It's just The scrolling, because it does fire up the dopamine in the different areas of the brain and sometimes we need that cool, but it doesn't need to take up a ton of space.

Autumn Carter: I actually have a timeline on my phone just for that.

Kate Engler: Yeah, you can. It's real easy, right? But I definitely have clients where I have a client right now who, she is just, it has been 1 thing after another. And I said to her this morning, your only job is to lay on your couch and watch really dumb TV today that doesn't make you think.

Kate Engler: Because she is at the point where she just needs to rest and that's okay if she's a little distracted and numb. Won't be that way forever. She just reached a limit. Her nervous system is fried. Today, that's the right thing for her to do.

Autumn Carter: And sometimes when we get sick, it's not something that's contagious.

Autumn Carter: Sometimes it's our body going, Nope, shutdown time, we're done. And if you can self regulate enough to realize, I'm starting to get into the yellow, don't even get to the red, get to the yellow. That is where I think unicorn space and self care are so important. If you are doing fair play, you have the bandwidth and the time to then do these things.

Autumn Carter: My husband, he has a really hard time with self care and unicorn space. So he has to schedule it out, do what you need to do to make it work for you. And it needs to look authentic to you. Otherwise it's not going to stick.

Kate Engler: Yep. It's funny. Men actually struggle more. They really I think that it's interesting because in some ways, you look at the research and it's men have more leisure time or whatever else, but the unicorn of it all that's the piece that they tend to be like, I don't know what.

Kate Engler: What do you mean go do something that nourishes me? Unless there's something already built in I think we've been so socialized to manage a lot of that stuff and coordinate life that, given this open time, it can be daunting for people. And you probably, I know you work with a lot of new parents and, especially moms, it's that feeling when you look up and you're , I don't even know what I like anymore.

Kate Engler: I don't have anything. Even if I went out with my friends, I wouldn't know what to say. That's a good sign that you need some unicorn space, and it might be uncomfortable at first when you do it.

Autumn Carter: It gets pretty boring talking about kids all the time, and I really like where she talked about the woman who wanted to do something for herself.

Autumn Carter: Everybody told her no, and then she gets a divorce, and the judge does a Gavin warning, which means that After a certain amount of time, he is no longer going to be paying alimony. She has to figure out what she's going to do with her life. So she then had to go and do what she wanted to do years ago, a decade ago, whatever.

Autumn Carter: She was an interior designer, I think it was. And she, before this at parties, she became super boring to talk to because all she had was kids. That was the only thing that she had in her vault. And. We want to be interesting people. We are drawn to people who are interesting. Don't we want to be that interesting person ourselves?

Autumn Carter: This is where this time comes in. Yes. You don't have to just know how to do math homework. Yes. You can know more than this.

Kate Engler: Yes, absolutely. You said it so brilliantly. Yeah. Oh, good.

Autumn Carter: Yay. And it's so fun to go away from conversations. I learned so much more than I ever expected to. I thought I was done with my learning for the day.

Autumn Carter: Have you ever been like that? Where you're like, nope, I'm done. My brain's shutting off now. I'm good. And just to go in with somebody else and you're just... Fired up for life and you're excited to learn a little bit more about what they were talking about. So you're over there on Google on the drive home.

Autumn Carter: Hopefully if you're not driving, if it was a passenger, or you get home, once the kids are in bed, you're looking it up or you're going and checking out that book that they were talking about. It's so fun. And then you have something else you look forward to that conversation with them again, you have something else to bring to the table.

Autumn Carter: I really like that. That really struck a chord with me and I did some social media posts around it and started thinking about, okay, how can I best help mothers to not lose themselves in motherhood? Cause it's so easy we have so much mom guilt that we need to be doing it all. And if we're working, we need to be a hundred percent with work and we need to be a hundred percent at home and Are we 100 percent for us?

Autumn Carter: Where are we in all of this? We're robots, but where are we?

Kate Engler: A good starting place for people if they're feeling stuck or they don't know where to begin. I often recommend go back to your childhood. What did you like to do? This is before we had all the stuff that gets piled on us when we become adults and cynical. What did you like to do? Did you color all the time? Did you make bracelets with beads? Did you run around and climb trees and build forts? Did you go roller skating? Did you... That's a good place to start. And because that we, it's still in us, most of us. And then it's just okay, if you did gymnastics when you were a kid, trust me, there's adult gymnastics out there somewhere.

Kate Engler: And you don't have to become a professional gymnast. You just go and you do the thing. Cause it's fun. Or you build a fort in your backyard, you go to home Depot, you do everything, but that's a, that can be a really nice starting place.

Autumn Carter: So when I did the eight dimensions of wellness and I interviewed Nancy Richardson, I'll have to link the episode number, but she talked about how every fall or every summer, like that with the different seasons, we're there with the parks and rec book or the YMCA book or boys and girls club book whatever other organizations.

Autumn Carter: And what do you want to do kids? What looks exciting? Why don't we do that for ourselves? So I really liked that on that. That's so true. We give our kids all these opportunities, but why aren't we doing them for ourselves? Love that. Is there anything else relating to motherhood that you would like to talk about?

Kate Engler: We know there's a real motherhood penalty. First of all, there's this notion that when you become a parent as a woman, there's this expectation that you're not going to work right?

Kate Engler: Like I had when I was pregnant with my first son, I cannot count the number of people are like, you're not coming back. You're not coming back. You're not coming back. I think, why are you so sure about that? And then when Moms leave work to go pick up a kid who's puking at school because undoubtedly it's going to happen or go to a doctor's appointment or go to a game.

Kate Engler: They are penalized over and over again in terms of opportunities, finances, all of that stuff. Dads actually tend to get a bump up on a lot of levels because it's like you got to care for your own family. We should probably give you promotion and a raise right now. Men also suffer horribly.

Kate Engler: If you demonstrate you are a caregiver in your workplace, then you begin to be penalized. It's tricky. It's a little damned if you do damned if you don't for both men and women and different things, but what's important with the fair play is if it's what you want to do if you're working outside of us in your career or something that you feel strongly about or you just want to, I don't know you just want to make a lot of money or just want to achieve or whatever your driving factor is.

Kate Engler: You need the opportunity and the time to be able to go off into the world and do your thing. So maybe it's a professional life, maybe it's something else, but we know that not having the opportunity has been hindering women in the professional world for a long time.

Autumn Carter: I think it showed up so much more during COVID too.

Kate Engler: Oh my gosh, yes. New York Times had a huge profile on that. I actually, I cried when I read it because it was so frustrating.

Autumn Carter: I'm just so glad that it was brought to attention because when things started happening and the shutdown and everything else, I kept looking at my husband saying, there's going to be so much research about women in the workplace and domestic violence.

Autumn Carter: Those were the two that really stood out to me. Yep. So you're right. Both of those were huge. Okay, so tell me again, because now I know, but listeners need to know how to follow you.

Kate Engler: So you can find me at my website, which is 3PointsRelationships, and then it's the number three spelled out, PointsRelationships, all one word.

Kate Engler: If you go there, you can sign up for my newsletter. I do not bombard your inbox, I only do it once a quarter. I usually pick a theme and we dig into some of the things about relationships. Quarters theme was about the pain, pleasure, paradox, and dopamine. And some of you touched on some of that stuff earlier.

Kate Engler: You can reach me there. You can also find me on Instagram. My handles at three points relationship and same with Facebook, any of those places. I'm

Autumn Carter: just realizing I did not sign up for your newsletter. I'm going to do that after this. All right. Is there anything else that you want to leave us with really quick?

Autumn Carter: I know we're running close on time, but this is so good.

Kate Engler: I don't think so. No, this was great. I love talking about this stuff. I could talk about it for days.

Autumn Carter: Great. And there are organizations, if you are a mom who is in the workplace and you feel like you need the extra help, there's a lot of mom organizations just to help have your back as you're working through different things with your boss, or you just are feeling really alone in the workplace, I know that it's really easy to feel that if you are a mom, in general, it is easy to feel alone in every aspect of life, but You're not, there's so much help out there.

Autumn Carter: I recently did an interview. It'll go out several months. But it's with IMAS. I am M. A. S. and there are so many organizations out there that if you are needing help, if you want to go back to work, I have a program that can help you with that. There are many other organizations that can help you is what I'm leaving our listeners with and thank you again Kate for being on here it was amazing and This is so much fun to talk about and thank you for Recommending the book because I think I already owned it, but I hadn't read it yet so you definitely brought it to the top of the pile and it's been a game changer for me and For people who I'm using it with so thank you again.

Kate Engler: Fantastic.

Kate Engler: Thanks for having me. This was great.


Episode summary:

Next week on 'Wellness in Every Season', we're taking a deep dive into a topic that resonates with many: the delicate balance of motherhood. Ever felt the weight of challenges like depression, anxiety, or ADHD while navigating the intricate pathways of being a mom? We'll explore the transformative power of introspection, setting boundaries, and the profound act of letting go. How do we replenish what we cut out of our lives? How do we ensure our inner gardens flourish even amidst life's storms? Tune in to 'Balancing the Scales: The Risks of Cutting Out Without Nurturing Within' for insights, strategies, and stories that promise to enlighten and empower. You won't want to miss this!



Thank you for joining us on this week's refreshing wellness discussion. I'm Autumn Carter, your guide through the seasons of motherhood, and I hope you found inspiration and valuable insights during our time together.

If you resonate with the topics we explored today and want to continue your wellness journey, I invite you to follow me on Instagram at Moms Wellness in Every Season. There, you'll discover a wealth of ongoing wellness tips specifically curated for moms like you.

Sharing our podcast with others is an act of caring, and I invite you to spread the word by sharing, subscribing, and leaving a review wherever you enjoy your podcasts. Your support is deeply valuable to us and enables us to reach more mothers who are seeking transformation and empowerment.

If you have a specific topic you'd like us to cover in more detail or if you're interested in a free coaching consultation, don't hesitate to reach out. You can send me a direct message on Instagram or visit my website,, to send an email. I'm here to support you on your wellness journey.

Thank you again for being a part of our vibrant community. I'm genuinely excited to connect with you, hear your stories, and continue this important discussion in the weeks to come.

Until next time, remember to prioritize your well-being, embrace every season with grace, and always strive for wellness in every aspect of your motherhood journey. Take care, and I can't wait to catch up with you soon.



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