I’m so sorry to those of you who have been waiting on this post. Life has been crazy! But it’s been driving me mad that I haven’t finished up this series like I said I would. Anywho, I’ll just jump right back in from where I left off.
In my last post, I spoke about letting go of my entitlements. When I realized that I didn’t want anyone doing anything for me unless they wanted to & only because they would be happy to do so – I realized that I shouldn’t be doing anything for anyone unless I wanted to & only because I was happy to do so as well.
How many times did I think to myself, “why should I be doing all the cooking, cleaning, child rearing, paying for everyone’s living expenses etc., while my husband does nothing at all?” But you know what? If doing A-Z makes me UNHAPPY then I actually shouldn’t be doing any of it. If I continue doing things that make me feel unhappy, whose fault is it? That’s right, it’s mine. There’s nobody to blame but ME. So I decided that I would do NOTHING in my life unless I wanted to and unless I was HAPPY to do so.Lesson #3) Give to Yourself Before Giving To Others.
After thinking about “all the things I do for my family,” I realized the biggest reason why I wasn’t feeling happy about it all wasn’t because, “I didn’t want to do any of it,” it was because after doing, and doing, and doing, and giving, and giving, and giving – there was nothing left over for ME. This was the problem.
I MAJORLY neglected myself in life thinking it was for “the greater good” or whatever. But no, it only made me MISERABLE, so this needed to change ASAP. I knew that if I could give to myself FIRST, then giving to others wouldn’t feel so AWFUL. I cannot take care of the needs of others and feel good about it UNLESS I take care of myself FIRST, and that’s exactly what I aim to do nowadays.
I take excellent care of myself in ALL aspects of life and always consider my needs before doing anything for anyone else. I’ll give you an example if you want.
In the morning, for example, I make it a point to wake up a couple of hours before everyone else. This gives me time to be alone (which is very important for my mental stability), it gives me time to workout (which helps me feel like I’m taking care of my health), it gives me time to take a long hot shower (which helps me to feel super relaxed and puts me in a good mood), and last I have time to take care of my appearance, I get dressed and ready for the day in a way that makes me feel pretty, feminine, and confident (which helps me feel like I’m taking care of my needs as a woman.) After giving all of this to myself first thing in the morning, I am MORE than happy to prepare breakfast for my family. c:
This is the rule that I live by. Since I only do what I want to do, I always feel like everything I do (even the things I do things for other people), is being done for me, which prevents me from feeling “unappreciated”. And since I only do as much as I’m happy to do, I’m always keeping my own personal well-being in mind and so I never go beyond my limits, I never give too much of myself away to anyone or to anything, which prevents me from feeling overworked or overwhelmed in my daily life. I’ll give examples of what I mean by this.
Cleaning: I’m an appreciator of beauty so living in a well-maintained environment that is pleasing to my eyes is a personal need of mine and I’m responsible for making sure my own needs are being met. Because of this, I view cleaning up as something I do for myself – even if I’m not the one who messes the place up. At the same time, I have to make sure that I don’t go beyond my limits to where I end up feeling resentful or bitter about the work that I put in. So what I did to prevent myself from overexerting myself was, I de-cluttered and reorganized my home to the point where it was very easy for me to clean up. I made it easy for my children to help clean up their mess as well so it’s even easier to clean, yay!
I also re-decorated my home a little so that when my work is done, I am very pleased with the results which makes me that much happier. It only takes me 20 minutes tops to clean up my home at any given time, and I only clean up twice per day. I play music and even dance around while cleaning to help keep a cheery, upbeat attitude about it all.
I found that I don’t need my home to be super clean all day, every day, in order to feel happy with it. The only times I really need it to be super clean is when I wake up in the morning and when I come home in the afternoon. That’s why I only clean up twice per day, once in mid-morning before I leave for the day, and once before I put my children to sleep at night. By not trying to be OVERLY neat and tidy and by NOT trying to combat the mess throughout the ENTIRE DAY, it leaves room for the children to be children, it helps me maintain a more RELAXED attitude about the whole situation, and even leaves room my husband to take it upon himself to clean up too, that is, if he chooses to do so.
When it comes to my husband, I only clean up after him as much as I’m happy to do – which is NOT very much at all. I will take care of his dishes when I clean the kitchen, and if he leaves his clothes laying around the house, I have no trouble throwing them in a basket - but that’s pretty much it. The reason for this is because he is an adult – and I cannot clean up as much after able-bodied adults without it leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. The second reason is because he is an adult and it’s his home too – so he has the right to be messy in his own home, he has the right to feel comfortable in his own home, he has the right to be treated as an adult and not as a child. I have no authority over him, he can do what he wants. If his mess bothers me – that’s my problem, not his. Everything can’t be my way all the time.
I didn’t do any of this thinking that it would change my partner, but he did change quite a bit. The more I stopped complaining about his mess, stopped arguing, and stopped making him feel guilty about “all the work I do” –the more he started taking it upon himself to clean up either after himself, after the children, the kitchen etc. There are no “cleaning rules” between my husband and me, we both do what we want when we want as individuals.
Cooking: The way that I’m able to view cooking as something that I want to do and something that I’m happy to do is by cooking meals that I want to eat, not catering to everyone else’s tastes. I keep foods in the house that everyone likes as well and I’m don’t have MALICIOUS intention to purposely make meals no one else likes, but when it’s my time to cook my main priority is to make sure that I’m going to enjoy the meal. If I don’t feel like cooking, I have no trouble asking my husband if he would like to do so, or perhaps he could order us food, or even take us out to eat. I have no trouble ordering food for the family or taking the family out to eat either. There are no “cooking rules” between my husband and me, we both do what we want as individuals.
Child Rearing: When it comes to taking care of the children, I am a stay-at-home mom so I’ve always done most of the work. But even when my husband would come home from work, or if it was his day off, or if he wasn’t working at all (for whatever reason), I always felt that it was UNFAIR that I had to do most of the childcare. Being upset with my husband affected who I was as a parent. I would be in a bad mood while taking care of my children because I’d be thinking about how my husband should be helping out with this too. It created thoughts of, “Why should I be the one has to do this while my husband does nothing.”
I took care of those sorts of thoughts by taking care of my own needs first (as I’ve explained in lesson#3), and by not going beyond my limits in any given moment. I view taking care of the children as something I do for myself because I care very much about the relationship I have with my two girls, my hope is that I’m able to maintain a strong bond/connection with both of my daughters throughout their entire lives. I believe that the better care I give them as their mother, the stronger that bond is going to be. I enjoy being a mother very much, it’s not something that is a drag on my life – I feel like our society is so anti-children/anti-parenting nowadays, which is pretty sad IMO and I totally disagree with that mindset.
I follow a routine with the children so that I’m able to live up to my own standards as a parent, I’m able to have time for myself, and I’m able to have time to take care of the other things I have going on in my life as well. So there’s NO reason for me to be UPSET with the amount of time/effort that I put into taking care of the girls, I do so happily each day.
When it comes to my husband, the only thing that was left to UPSET me was the worry that he and the girls wouldn’t form a strong bond together and I really wanted them to have that for all of their sakes. I realized that if I kept telling him what to do, when to do it, and how to take care of the children, and if I kept looking over his shoulder all the time/kept tabs on what I do vs. what he does - my husband would NEVER feel like a real parent. All I could do was try to encourage a relationship between them and SEE what happens.
What I did to encourage a better relationship between my husband and our girls was, I left opportunities for them to be alone with one another and let them figure it out for themselves. I try to do that as much as possible without giving my husband advice/directions on how to handle it, and without asking a bunch of questions about how things went once I return. I just ASSUME THE BEST!
Whenever my husband and I are both home at the same time, I leave room for my husband to have a chance to be the one who gives permission for something, to make meals for them, put them to bed etc.
“Mommy, can we have a snack?”
“Hmm, I don’t know. Let’s go ask Daddy what he thinks.”
I also always talk my husband UP to the children. “You know, daddy loves you so much. What’s your favorite thing to do with daddy?” I always let my husband know the sweet things the children say about him, as well.
I wasn’t sure if trying out any of these things were going to make any sort of difference, but I really feel like all these things together made my husband feel more CONFIDENT in his ability to be a parent which made all the difference! It wasn’t fair of me to think that my husband should know how to take care of children without giving him the time and opportunity ANY parent would need to learn how to do so. I had SO much time alone with the kids since their birth which gave me the time that I needed to build the parenting skills and the confidence that I have as a mother today – it DID NOT happen overnight. So I wanted to give my husband a fair shot at it too WITHOUT judging him.
Again, there are no “parenting rules” between my husband and me – we sort of just go with the flow.
Finances: In order to be a stay-at-home mom, I work from home, so I actually make a lot LESS money than my husband does. Even so, I found that my husband would always come up short when it came time to pay for things. He didn’t manage his money well. He would always think that he could afford so much more “extras” than he actually could, so when it came down to paying for bills, food, diapers etc. – he didn’t have much to give. Which left me feeling like I had to pay for most-all of our family expenses while he used his money as “play money.” Which I obviously thought was UNFAIR.
But I didn’t WANT to argue about money anymore and I didn’t WANT to manage his money for him anymore either, <- I wasn’t HAPPY doing these things and it wasn’t doing anybody any good, so I stopped thinking in the sense of paying for things “50-50”, because I found it to be way too stressful. I just paid for things that I felt comfortable paying for, regardless of what my husband had to offer.
I found that I didn’t mind paying for things that would benefit the entire family and if I had money left over for myself afterward I would be even HAPPIER to pay for it too. To improve the situation for the long run, I looked for ways that I could make more money for now, and/or sometime in the future. I didn’t have to WORRY about my husband's money situation anymore because either way, we would be okay.
With that in mind, I left my husband alone to figure out the best way to manage his own money, and I could be happy with whatever he DID have to offer at the end of the week/month no matter how much it was. For example, I would just ask, “Hey, we have the electric bill to pay soon, how much money do you think you’ll be able to put towards it?” And I would be happy with whatever it was he had to offer. If he only had “a small amount” to contribute, I would just smile and appreciate it. And if he had nothing, I would smile and say, “That’s okay, don’t worry about it.” There was nothing fake about it, my intentions were GENUINE.
I didn’t do this in an attempt to change my husband, but I found that the more I did this, the BETTER he became at managing his money. All I really had to do was step out of his way, appreciate what he DID bring to the table, and let go. He started contributing more and more money to our family expenses and he was very happy to do so. I actually don’t even pay for much anymore because, well, he won’t let me – he wants to pay for everything. But I still never EXPECT him to! I always ask about the bills and offer to pay for things just the same. If my husband falls off the wagon one day, loses his job, or feels like he’s not able to pay for as much, that’s okay!
When it’s all said and done, I really feel like the energy I brought to the table made all the difference in the world for everyone in my family. I was able to do all of this with a happy attitude because I was more concerned about MYSELF and what I could do to improve my life than I was with my husband. I stopped looking down on him with harsh judgments & let him be while choosing to believe the BEST in him. But NONE of this happened over night. It took me time to settle into my new mindset and it took my partner time to notice the change in energy, too. Over time, I’ve noticed a TREMENDOUS difference in EVERYONE involved. We are all soo much happier now.
Sometimes I did fall off the wagon, though, and I still do! I’m not perfect and I don’t try to be. I found that when my mood DOES start to change and dark thoughts towards my partner begin to resurface, it’s always during the times where I get lazy about taking care of myself.
I want to add that sometimes my daily tasks still DO overwhelm me, as well. And that’s when I have to remember the golden rule, “Do only as much as you are happy to do.” For example, if I’m feeling like I’m having a hard time with the girls, I need to stop whatever I’m doing and take a short break, take a little “me” time and get back into it once I’m feeling better. ETC. The rule is, whenever I'm feeling down I always focus on me, not others. I'm responsible for keeping myself happy and for making my life the way I want to be.
Okay guys & gals, I feel like I’ve explained A LOT and yet, not much at all lol, I couldn’t explain everything here, but I tried to explain as best as I could. I hope this makes some kinda sense.