It was another normal morning in my life.
I was trying to make myself get up after a long night of fighting “monsters” under my child’s bed. I looked at the time and quickly got to my morning routine.
My morning routine usually includes making a hot breakfast for my family of 5, getting lunches ready for 4, making sure backpacks are by the door, reminding my children ever 5 minutes that it’s time for them to come down stair or else they will be late. Once they make it downstairs then I become the “eat your food” patrol. While they eat I usually share a morning devotional for us to glean on something positive before we tackle the day. We end our morning routine with prayer as I kiss everyone on the cheek and remind them that God loves them, sees them and knows them by name. (Oh my gosh can you believe I was trying to do all of these things in 30 minutes by myself.)
If I lived in a perfect world I would end here and say we lived happily ever after.
Unfortunately, that day I found myself giving my child a look of terror for coming downstairs without combing his hair and brushing their teeth. Then scolding the child who just asked me to give send him to school with 21 cookies for his class party.
One child walked out the door sniffling because my scolding hurt his feelings and the other looking sad. I closed the door behind me thankful we survived the morning.
Then I sat down and cried. This was not okay. My kids are walking out the door of our home feeling defeated instead feeling energized, loved and safe. Our home is supposed to be a safe place for them not a place where they can’t wait to leave.
That morning I decided something had to change.
Not only was this not fair to my family but it wasn’t good for me. I was running myself ragged trying to make sure I remembered everything for everyone. Trying to get everyone fed and fully clothed and presentable before they walked out the door.
I am fortunate to have a husband who is more than willing to help out when I ask him, so it was just a matter of letting go of the messages I had picked up along the way. Messages that kept me doing because a good wife and mom have to do it all.
If you had asked me if I believed such a statement I would have wholeheartedly said, “No!” But I subconsciously believed it. I thought sharing the work load of parenting 3 boys and making our house a home was my sole responsibility.
The Lies We Believe
We believe our children aren’t capable of handling the task at hand. We think it’s OUR job to maintain the home and raise our children and doing it ourselves is much easier.
It may seem like it’s easier to do it ourselves but in the long run it’s not. We are familiar with the exhausted moms who have lost the love in their work and are running themselves ragged trying to do it all. Well don’t panic if I just described you.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
What subtle cultural nuances have we picked up along the way?
Why do we believe we are doing our family a favor when we are in charge of everything?
Why do we believe we are the keeper of all things, the healer of all things, the maker of all things, the discipliner of all things? That we are the only ones who can make dinner right? Tuck the kids in bed on time? Get a load of laundry done? Change a diaper the “right” way?
I know some of you are saying but I love doing it all. I know you do. I do too! It’s easier for me to control everything even if I’m running ragged and exhausted
Some of us genuinely love doing it all and others of us are plagued by guilt that we should be doing it all. Others of us struggle with control and it’s just easier to do it ourselves because we will get it done the “right way”. Or maybe for you it’s because it’s hard to say no and you desire to please your spouse and children.
We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.” ~Lysa Terkeurst
Maybe you can relate to one of these scenarios or a few but regardless where we stand it’s important that we are not trying to do it all. I constantly have to remind myself that even in my shortcomings God will do His will with our family. Remember His truth helps me walk away from the disease to please. From the desire to earn my keep because guess what He loves me just as I am.
When We Try to Do It All
Research shows that women spend more time doing unpaid work.
Worldwide, women spend an average of 4.5 hours a day on unpaid work, including grocery shopping, child care and laundry. That is more than double the amount of time men spend, according to O.E.C.D.. Men spend significantly more time on paid work and also on leisure activities, which include playing sports, watching TV and hanging out with friends.” ~via NYTimes.com
Here’s the deal our daughters are watching us and they are seeing the examples we set when we try to “do it all”. Our sons are watching and they are learning that it’s the wife’s job to make dinner, clean the house, change the diapers, help the kids with the homework, pray with the kids, lead devotionals, bathe the kids, play with the kids…
Let’s stop encouraging this cycle and start setting the example in our home to our sons and daughters of what it looks like when every one pitches in and works as a team.
50/50 Systems Don’t Work
I came into my marriage with the notion that 50/50 is how our family is going to function. This is highly inaccurate and I warn you not to get caught up in keeping score or equally sharing the amount of work, because it pointless.
A healthy family works as a team and a team is not following this clear cut rule of 50/50 because life isn’t clear cut. A healthy family is about being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak.
I remember when I was pregnant and vomiting for 9 months with little energy to clean or cook my husband jumped in and did more cooking and cleaning. He was okay with doing more because he had not bought into this 50/50 system.
I do realize that in this day and age we have more and more stay-at-home dads, work from home moms and families where both parents work outside the home. No matter where you find yourself in this phase of life it’s important to share the work load with your spouse and children for these powerful reasons I have outlined below.
6 Powerful Reasons We Should Stop feeling Guilty about Sharing the Parenting Load
- You’re bridging the gap. I still remember the mornings my Latino father who was very traditional in his role as a man would do the unthinkable–he brushed my hair before school. Occasionally he tried braiding my long dark hair.
As a young child, I knew it would look better if my mom did it but I treasured those few moments I had with him in the morning.
The reality is the parent who is working outside of the home has less opportunity to connect with the children so let’s bridge the gap by encouraging our spouse to be involved.
Don’t be surprised if they aren’t asking to change the diapers or help with homework. You may need to encourage them, ask them and sometimes even show them how. When you’re the only one who does bath time, homework time, story reading time, bedtime time you are depriving your spouse of the opportunity to connect and make memories with your children. This alone is a powerful reason to share the responsibilities of parenting. I cherish the simple memory of my dad brushing in the morning on occasions.
Connecting doesn’t only happen when you set up an ice cream date or go outside and throw the ball with your child. The connecting moments are built in the everyday routines as well, like changing their diaper, when putting them to bed, brushing hair, reading them a story, leading devotional time, playing a board game and making dinner.
When you allow and encourage your spouse to be involved in these moments you are saying “I want you to be a part of this family and I trust you.” Sometime the latter of that statement is the hardest because we have a certain way to bathe the kids and God forbid your spouse washes their body first instead of shampooing first. That’s when you sing, “Let it go!”
- Empowering your family – When we share the parenting load we empower our family with tools and values that cement this truth– Our family is a team. You are not just talking about teamwork, kindness and serving one another but you’re modeling it in your home. You remind yourself and your children that your home runs on a team effort with everyone pitching in and looking for ways to serve one another. What an example this is for your kids.
Have you watched the video where a Middle Eastern father painstakingly watches his daughter do it all while her husband is watching tv? If you haven’t watched it you should, it’s powerful because the dad is thinking about how he should’ve taken more of the load at home so that his daughter wouldn’t think that what she’s doing is normal. Then he leaves her a beautiful note.
- It reduces entitlement – “Where’s my food?” My 5 year old demanded. I looked at my husband appalled. I wondered how did we get here. Yes, I do realize he was just a preschooler but his tone of voice and attitude that screamed entitlement was jolting to my ears.
When clean clothes appears in our drawers and food magically arrives hot on the table just in time for dinner and our kids don’t have to work for anything they begin to believe this is their right and they become self centered, ungrateful and lazy. I do realize it’s our responsibility as parents to clothe, feed and provide a safe environment for our children but it’s not only our sole responsibility to take care of that clothes and prepare every detail of that meal and clean every corner of that safe environment.
In our family we have a system set up for chores in which we all pitch in to make our house a home. It took us a bit to get into a groove and get the hang of teaching them how to do a chore, delegating it and then letting them do it. Reminding myself that the process could be an opportunity to grow closer and for my kids to grow in character. Believe me after you do it for a couple of months you will reap the rewards of watching your kids learn to serve each other. You begin to see kids who don’t expect everyone else to serve them.
- It builds responsibility & confidence– When we give our children responsibilities in our home the message we are sending is “You are capable!”. We are letting them know we believe in them and their contribution is valuable. These messages build confidence and remind our children they are valuable. When we work alongside of our children to coach them on how to crack an egg, make their bed, make their first batch of pancakes or mow the lawn these things build connection and confidence.
Even little ones can start contributing by doing age appropriate chores. In fact, this is perfect age to instill the value of teamwork because at this age they have a strong desire to learn and help out around the house
- You need it for your sanity. It’s not possible for you to do it all and remember it all, so stop feeling guilty when you ask your husband to bathe the kids when he gets home from his job. Next time say yes to your mother-in-law when she offers to take the kids to the park instead of thinking you’re imposing on her. Remember you are encouraging connection and building memories.I work with moms of all ages as a parenting coach and one of the comments I regularly hear is, “Our home is dirty all the time because I can’t keep up with their mess.”
Moms hear me out please, you don’t have to keep up with their mess. When you realize the importance of sharing the load, you will gladly teach your kids to pick up their own toy mess.
“The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines.” ~Lysa Terkeurest
- Letting go gives you room to do other things. When you share the work load it allows you to say “Yes!” to something or someone else.
“Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less.” ~L. TerkeurestTeaching your daughter to clean up her own Lego toys gives you the freedom to sit down and say “Yes!” to reading to your 3 year old. Letting your husband bathe the kids even if he’s not doing it “right” might allow you to lay down next to your son and maybe even sneak in a cat nap.
Social media and the internet have given us a voice and what I hear women sharing from all over the world is, “I’m exhausted!” We feel like we are drowning under all the demands of life and no matter what we do we can’t manage to keep our heads above the water.
I mentioned above I was frazzled and exhausted pretty much every school morning for years. This left me little room to breathe so when something didn’t work out in the morning I would fall apart and my children got the brunt of my overwhelmed state.
We miss the joy each season brings when we are caught in the lie that we are responsible for everything. How our kids turn out, what our house looks like, if our kids are thriving and if our husband is content.