Whether you’ve previously seen the clip of Lucy and Ethel working in a chocolate factory or not, you need to watch it below before you go any further. Go ahead and enjoy a bit of humor for this morning. I’ll wait.
Their frantic behavior and makeshift solutions hit home every time and make us laugh out loud.
We know why, of course, but we’d rather not think or talk about it.
Well, the time has come. . .
Far too often, we feel tremendous pressure in our lives, much like Lucy and her friend, Ethel.
Go ahead. Admit it. Own it. Embrace it.
It’s ok. After all, we are human and we are among friends here.
And we are overwhelmed.
We are octopus-armed, multiple hat-wearers who stress over finding time to do it all: to make cupcakes for the classroom, to cook and deliver dinner for a family in need, to sit and listen about Billy’s exciting school day, or Sally’s hurt feelings over a fight with her best friend, and that is just the top layer of a family-size box of chocolates.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Moms are just trying to do too much.
What are we thinking?
We strive for perfection, forgetting we are imperfect beings.
We want to be able to do it all, refusing to recognize we just aren’t SuperMom.
We focus on the constant stream of smaller tasks, losing sight of the bigger picture.
We overwhelm ourselves, thinking the solution is to not let a single sweet on that conveyer belt of life pass by untouched.
Moms are running a one-woman show.
The television shows, magazines and culture show us these picture-perfect families with smiling, happy, moms who seem to effortlessly do it all, by themselves. And we find ourselves wanting some—or all—of what they have. We want our children to have opportunities, so we enroll them in multiple sports and activities. We want to help make a difference, so we add volunteering for our church and community to our already long list of responsibilities. We want our homes to look as neat as wonderful as the images we’ve seen, so we add those house cleaning tasks to our pile as well.
The problem is that the to-do list for the family has become miles long, and we are pretending we can stretch to cover it all by ourselves.
Moms must involve the family.
I have spoken to many parents about having children help with the chores around the house. Countless times, the adults have shared excuses about why it wouldn’t work in their house:
Their teen is a great student who is involved in sports, and they wouldn’t want to upset that applecart.
Their child is too young/too irresponsible/too slow/doesn’t want to learn, so it’s just easier to do the work themselves.
The moms will also sometimes say their husband just can’t do anything right, so in order to everything done properly, the moms have to do it themselves.
I propose a sweeping change of perspective, a paradigm shift without a clutch, as it were.
Let’s pretend you were called away on an imaginary assignment for the next month.
Now, I know you are probably laughing—or hyperventilating—as you imagine the damage that would be done in your absence, but stay with me here.
Think about that. It is just an unacceptable state of affairs.
You have enabled your family to count on you for everything.
No wonder you feel overwhelmed.
What has to happen for the family to be involved?
You need to let them know they are an important part, and their help is vital to the family’s well-being. It is no more reasonable in baseball for the team to expect the pitcher to also cover every other position on the field than it is for your family to expect you to cover every base at home.
You need to expect them to help, teach them how to do the tasks, and have a plan for who is responsible for each one.
Let go of your preconceptions about what you think your children can do. Consider every chore in the home as fair game, as long as it can be safely completed by each child. This will include tasks like laundry, vacuuming, mopping floors, and more.
This may sound more overwhelming than where you are right now, but you just have to trust me. In the long run, this pays tremendous dividends.
To get started, I recommend a couple of resources. The first is a book by Jane Nelson: Positive Discipline, the classic guide in helping children develop self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation, and problem solving skills. The author walks through the entire process of finding solutions, including family meetings, and replaces punishment with consequences. I can tell you from personal experience this knowledge made parenting easier and our household happier.
The other resource is Financial Peace Junior for Kids, by Dave Ramsey. This kit will help you teach your children how earning money actually works, the importance of giving, and how to have fun (yes, fun!) on a spending plan. It also gives great suggestions for how to deal with the thorny issue of allowances for chores, especially important when you are involving the kids in being an integral part of the household.
Remember to keep your eye on the long view. In the short term, there will be frustrations as everyone gets used to their new roles. The kids, especially, will do what they can to test your patience so that they can return to the magical land of Mom Does it All. You can’t blame them for that, but you also can’t let them off the hook.
Also, be sure you present a unified front with your husband. Kids have an uncanny knack for spotting dissension and then going in to widen the divide. Be alert, supportive and forgiving, and stay strong together.
It’s about accepting the good so you can enjoy the great.
Above all, you need to stop listening to and believing that evil voice in your head, an unrelenting supervisor much like the woman in the clip, who says you will be fired if anything gets by you. You just need to send her packing, and replace her with the voice of encouragement and hope for when things get tough, and with the arms of grace and forgiveness for when mistakes get made.
You will need to let go of the perfect, of the it’s not the way I do it, if your family is going to be encouraged to help.
How would you feel if your boss came along behind you and re-did everything you had done because it just wasn’t up to his standards?
Really, will the world stop spinning if the shirts aren’t folded a particular way, or if the dishwasher isn’t loaded in a certain order?
How about if the dust bunnies are left undisturbed in their natural habitat under the furniture?
Give lots of grace and encouragement while everyone is learning new tasks, because it is what we pay attention to that grows.
Once we truly are accepting of where each family member is in this new journey, our burdens will get lighter, the pressure, guilt and bitterness will begin to ease, and our relationships will improve. We will have more time to spend enjoying each other because we have chosen to help each other.
That is a great and wonderful place to be, indeed.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Question for today: What has to happen so you could move towards sharing more responsibilities at home? If you are already at this place with your family, can you share a tip or two for moms who are here for help?
Remember to check the little box under the comment area so you will be notified if anyone responds to your wit and wisdom!
Image credit-John Hritz via Flickr