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Jugglers' Helpers

Enlisting the home team

by Florinda Pendley Vasquez  |  5222 views  |  1 comment  |        Rate this now! 

It's a familiar feeling for working moms to feel like we're carrying everything on our shoulders - because we usually are. Some of that is just an occupational hazard, but some of it could be avoidable if we're just willing to ask for some help, and maybe give up a little control in return. That may mean things won't exactly get done the way we'd do them ourselves, but they'd at least get done and we wouldn't actually have to do them ourselves. It involves adopting a manager's viewpoint and skills, including delegation and empowerment. And some of those potential sources of help are under our own roof. We may just have to change perspective a little to see them that way - as a help with the work, and less as a source of it. It's redefining the "home team."

By the time our kids get to be school-aged, they are probably ready to start doing things to help out with the daily household routines. In my opinion, younger kids are the most helpful when they are doing things for themselves - dressing themselves (if you're afraid of what that might look like, give them a restricted set of options to work with), making their beds, picking up their own toys (not just in their rooms, but anywhere in the house), even fixing their own breakfasts and lunches. They'll probably still need you to supervise and direct for awhile, but that's something you can handle while doing something else simultaneously - aren't we supposed to be master multitaskers, after all? Ideally, as time goes by, they'll be capable of taking on more, and branching out into things that benefit other members of the household in addition to themselves. This is actually a great opportunity for them; the more skills they have the chance to learn at home, the better prepared they will be for that eventual day when they're out on their own, and have to feed themselves and do their own laundry. (Yes, it will actually happen someday...)

In the "Advanced Jugglers" forum on this website, some of us were recently discussing the not-so-guilty secret of divorced parents - a schedule that divides the kids' time between two homes and leaves each parent with specified "child-free" weekends and/or evenings. In some cases, just having the kids elsewhere for a specified amount of time, at reliable intervals, may be the most help the other parent has ever provided. The part-time parenting schedule does provide built-in pockets for catching up on things that are just easier to do when the kids aren't around (which sometimes feels like everything), as well as for socializing with other adults and indulging in a little "me time."

About the Author

Florinda is a wife, mother, stepmother, blogger, and accountant employed by a Southern California nonprofit agency.

Read more by Florinda Pendley Vasquez

1 comment so far...

  • In some cases, just having the kids elsewhere for a specified amount of time, at reliable intervals, may be the most help the other parent has ever provided. That certainy describes my childrens' father! He was also one who WOULD NOT do any housework. Worse, not only did he not pick up after himself, he criticized my housekeeping! Astonishing, really...

    In this relationship, I have a partner, in every sense of the word. I do most of the household stuff because I'm home more, because it bugs me more, and because, as long as he knows where HIS stuff is, he doesn't see the rest. BUT... we have assigned chores, and we all do what we said we would. Additionally, he'll do a sink of dishes or some other concrete task if he sees it needs to be done. And finally, any time I want someone him to do something, I just say so, and he does it. If he can't, he says so -- politely, and generally with an apology and a reason, from which point we can negotiate, or perhaps choose to just let the mess lie for now!

    WHAT a welcome change from that first guy...

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 4th October 2007