One time I had a family come to my work. The topic that day was about how many hours it takes to be healthy. I told the group that I spent at least 25 hours a week on my health program; The lesson being how many hours are you spending to get the results you desire? So we strategized effective ways to make time more efficient.
At the end of the meeting, the father sat with me to question me about the possibility of joining the program. He started speaking to me like this. “Hi, I’m her husband and I didn’t really hear anything today that would help me. I work all day from 7:00am until midnight and my wife works as well. We have a nanny for when the kids get home, but otherwise there is no time to eat differently than the children. No time to plan, shop or look up points. I put the kids to bed at 9:30 and then I work until midnight. My wife comes home at 7 and goes to bed at 8:00.
Meanwhile the wife had disappeared and the 3 kids were chasing each other around in my office, out of control, ignoring the father’s admonishments. When the wife did return, she was totally frustrated, told her spouse she couldn’t take it, and demanded to the three kids to come with her to the car. Meanwhile the husband, not responding to her, told me, “Yes but…” to every suggestion I made.
“You can purchase precooked chickens.”
“But chicken gets boring.”
“You can look up calories at take-out places?”
“Well that takes up a lot of time.”
“You need to eat simple and clean.”
“My kids won’t eat that way.”
I also suggested contacting a grocery store for delivery and spending time memorizing what good choices might be.
Here was a completely chaotic family situation whose mother was exhausted, whose father decided somewhere along the way working 16 hours every day was fine and three kids who understood poor boundaries and were catered to morning, noon and night.
The father told me he had 3 herniated disks and leg pain.
The mother was burned out and needed to lose 40 pounds.
And at that moment, they weren’t going to change a thing. What he sought was that something outside of himself should change. This was complete chaos and really not going to end well.
How many of us live in chaos and don’t see our own contribution to the madness? How many feel that there is no choice? How many of us only want to change if it doesn’t cause any discomfort? How does this work?
Change is required. Life demands the bill be paid. Something is on the breaking point and some one will break, be it in physical or mental health, or relationship issues, some bill will be paid. And unless that family gets help, they might break up and feel completely frustrated, blame the other and fall apart. The book is already written and they are just playing the parts.
Or course I’m on the outside. It’s easier for me to see. I’m not in it. This is not a blog to judge. I’m using them as a reminder to my own blind spots. My own places where I blame others in my family for my frustration, or my stuck places; Where I feel overwhelmed and no one is listening to me and my needs.
I’ve recently sought support from a girlfriend who put her teens on a work schedule of chores around the house. She is much better at this than me. I talked it out with her and made changes. I took my family out to a fun dinner adventure and said, “I need some help with dinners. I want everyone to pick a night and you cook. If anyone doesn’t like what is being served, you may make the choice to eat something else, but no one is responsible for cooking multiple meals for everyone (including me!)”
Then I added, “And when I’m doing the laundry, I’ll yell out which type I’m doing and your laundry may join mine, but when it’s dried, you’ll be folding your own laundry. And if you don’t join my laundry when I choose to wash, you’ll be on your own.”
So this is a very positive start. I didn’t get any blow back. And over a month later it is going well. Some of you have done this division of chores way more effectively than me, but the point is I’m doing something that will ultimately raise better sons and give me a well deserved break.
I don’t want to feel chaos all the time. I don’t want to be responsible for everyone else. My need to do everything is a harmful habit and not the truth. Other people in my life can do things. They just don’t because I’ve been doing them for so long. Change is slow and difficult, but I’m taking action to see my way to another way to live. Wish me luck!