The Journey of Redefining Family Chores

I sometimes cannot believe I didn’t realize something sooner. It just seems I get caught up in my own little world of things and don’t realize what was going on until later. Like the pun of the joke where I didn’t get it until someone explains it to me. Then I feel silly for not knowing it and am watching intently for it next time. I think that’s the trouble with having so much going on in life too. We get distracted or think we can multi-task when in truth we miss the good parts by it.


When it came to admitting I needed to slow down because I wasn’t getting it all done or right, I fought it like a bear. How in the world was I going to keep up if I slowed down! There were lots of things to do and be done and if I didn’t do them, well we all know where the buck stops right? Most of us women can agree it is up to us with so many things in our jobs, family and homes. We at the very least have to start them and get others moving in that direction if not do it all ourselves. This was all true in my situation too and yet I was at the point where I couldn’t do it all anymore. Doing it all was too much and I felt buried under it.


I needed to take back some of my time for my own needs. There wasn’t any time for me to exercise, sleep well, prepare meals and any of the other things I needed to be doing to feel good. If I didn’t feel good I couldn’t do all the things either. That’s where I was now. Not keeping up, not getting it done and not loving any of it either. It felt like a hamster wheel that wasn’t fun anymore to ride and I was going through the motions of it all without feeling. That’s when I knew it had to change but I realized the it in this scenario was me. I had to recharge how I was feeling so I could do it all and have it mean something to me again.


It was more than burnout though that was a big part of it. We all get to the point we are tired and overwhelmed from life. We carve out that little time, take a break or a vacation and then come back at it strong. That wasn’t working for me anymore either because when I came back from the break it felt like slamming into a brick wall of stuff just piling up waiting for me. I get the importance of me in a lot of roles and responsibilities in my life but my goodness enough was enough already! It was time to change the demands on me so I could have some essence of me in all of that stuff. It had gotten to the point where that was lost and it was just a bunch of chores and obligations.


When mom goes on strike we all know we’re in trouble right? Well in most cases mom makes her point and then goes ahead and does it all just like she used to do right? Not this time at least I told myself. Since I was working full time, that meant the family needed to take on things around house to help. It also meant I needed to show them how to do things and then accept they would develop their own way about doing them to an extent. I had to also loosen my expectations of when it got done understanding my family wasn’t used to going like a steamroller to get it all done so they could relax. I needed to loosen that expectation of myself too.


It didn’t feel good at all, I admit that honestly. Seeing my son and husband fold towels in the wrong way drove me crazy. I learned to laugh with them about it though and after several lessons they eventually got it. I also had to laugh when I would hear the vacuum start on Friday afternoons. They knew what time it was and they knew I always started housework Friday evenings so that I can have some weekend time for fun. It wasn’t perfect but it was done and I learned to redirect the need to do it again behind them into things I still needed to do.


This delegation of sorts got better over time. I still do a lot and sometimes still did more after them but it did get better. The advantages of it also increased because I saw time returned to me. I could actually make it to the treadmill more consistently and had some weekend time for preparing for the week and my own interests. What came of it too was I started to relax some. What I had to do began to feel less of a burden and more of a contribution to a whole. When I cleaned the kitchen floor I realized I was doing it for my family who was running the vac and folding towels for us. It became less of what I could do for them and more of what we could do for each other in the care of us and our home. That shift started to break down the big wall and make it more manageable.


I hear my friends complain their husbands and children do little to help around the house. I hear their exhaustion and stress and know it well too. When I tell them I let go of some of the housework to my son and husband they look at me horrified. It isn’t always how I would do it but it is no longer my responsibility to run the vac, clean the pool, mow the grass, empty the dishwasher or clean the bathrooms. I pitch in where I can and I do still clean the kitchen and mop the floors but the rest is theirs. It works for us now because it gave me back what I needed most, my time, energy and focus.


The thing I saw that stopped me from seeing this is a healthy change at first was because my family wouldn’t do it as thoroughly, frequently or the way I would do it. Once I realized releasing it also meant releasing to a point what and how it done it was possible to see their way as also right. It became possible to ask the vac be run as needed instead of just on Fridays too because we were working together. I let go of it just being how I would do it and how I knew it should be done and let it be about my family helping each other.


What are you ready to release to reclaim your life?


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