We spoke with New York Times bestselling author, lawyer, and mother of three Eve Rodsky about her book, Fair Play, and how to manage “invisible work” at home.

Q. What inspired you to write a book about “invisible work”?

Eve Rodsky: This started with a single text from my husband eight years ago, on a day where it felt like the space-time continuum was collapsing on me. My second son was just born, and my older son was three. My husband sent me a text that said, “I'm surprised you didn't get blueberries.”

You can picture the scene. I had a breast pump and a diaper bag on the passenger seat of my car. I had gifts for a newborn baby to return in the backseat. I had just "opted out" of the corporate workforce. I had started my own mediation firm. A client contract was in my lap. A pen was stabbing me in the vagina. And I was racing to pick up my toddler at his transition program — which, in America, lasts 10 seconds because we don't value working parents.

Then I got this text, and it hit me in my stomach. I pulled over and started thinking to myself, well, if my marriage is going to end, it should be over an affair with an NFL player. It just felt so cliché that I was crying over blueberries. But I was really thinking to myself, I used to be able to manage employee teams and now I'm at the point where I can't even manage a grocery list.

More importantly, I was thinking about how I became the default — or “shefault” — for literally every single domestic task in my family besides mowing the lawn. It wasn't supposed to happen that way to me. They called me a parental child. At age seven, I vowed that I would have an equal partner in life. And on top of that, I'm a mediator and a lawyer. I'm literally trained to use my voice.

I kept thinking to myself, if this was happening to me — this state of overwhelm and surprise of where my life had taken me — then it must be happening to other high-power women. I went on to interview 500 men and women for this book, across socioeconomic statuses. It was happening to pretty much every woman in every hetero, cisgender relationship.

Q: How do you define invisible work?

ER: It helps to consider where invisible work comes from. We’ve referred to this concept for hundreds of years. Virginia Woolf said “you can't have a room of your own.” Victorians argued Shakespeare couldn’t be a woman because of all our domestic responsibilities. Today, it’s the mental load, emotional labor, the second shift. My favorite word for what’s happening to women is invisible work, because it feels like there is a modicum of a solution in there.

Right after I learned that term, I went on a breast cancer march with 10 of my close friends. These are women like you — they’re Chiefs. We had an award-winning movie producer, a nonprofit CEO, et cetera. We're marching with signs. It was a great, empowering morning.

Then it hit noon, and the first text came through. My friend Kate's husband wrote, when are you coming home from the parade? He had been with the kids all morning. He was done babysitting his children. And then it was like a sociological experiment — all of our phones started blowing up at the same time with texts like, where'd you put Hudson's soccer bag? What's the address of the birthday party? And my favorite, do the kids need to eat lunch?

I was watching all these empowered women frantically text back, and lose all their power. Then one woman said to our group, “I probably did leave my partner with too much to do. We might as well skip lunch and go home.” And we did. We skipped lunch and went home.

That afternoon, I counted up all the phone calls and texts we received from our partners and the women that had come in to replace our vaginas that morning — the nannies, housekeepers, babysitters, mother-in-laws, and mothers. Collectively, us 10 women received 30 phone calls and 46 texts over 30 minutes. That's how I define invisible work.

Q: How do you begin deprogramming invisible work from your life and relationship?

ER: As a mediator, we're taught that the presenting problem is not the real problem. With invisible work, the real problem is that as a society, we view men's time as finite, like diamonds, and we view women's time as infinite, like sand.

That was such a chief finding for me, because if we continue to guard men's time, nothing is going to change. None of the communication tactics I teach will make a dent.

In the workplace, we know that women's time is not valued the same as men's because we're not paid the same amount for the same job. But outside of work, I learned that the most insidious guards of men's time were actually women — myself included. Over and over again, women told me things like, "Well, I'm just a better multitasker. You know, my husband is just better at focusing on one thing at a time. I'm wired differently.”

I heard this so many times, I went to the top neuroscientists in the country and I asked him whether women are actually wired differently. He just looked at me and said, "Imagine if we can convince half the population that they're better at wiping asses and doing dishes. How great for the other half of the population."

That's the only other day I cried during this book, besides the blueberries.

Other women told me that in the time it takes to teach their husbands what to do, they might as well do it themselves. I took that argument to one of the top behavioral economists in the country, Dan Ariely. He said, “Of course it makes sense to tell him how to wipe asses and do dishes. Otherwise you're going to be doing it repetitively, forever, at the expense of your own time.”

So I'm here to tell you that all time is created equal, and it starts with us saying that we value our own time. We only get 24 hours in a day — the same as men. None of the myths we believe about women and multitasking or the time it takes to teach men are true. Get rid of the guilt and shame and move on to what a new reset household can look like.