I confess I was sort of late learning to ride a bike. I was so girly, I didn’t want to fall off a bike and scar my legs (don’t judge me). By the time I got the courage to learn how to ride a one speed bike, most of my cousins I wanted to ride with had moved on to the ten speed bike. It was bigger and better, yet a little more complicated. The ten speed bike came with gears that I could shift to adjust the bike, making for a much easier ride up or down a hill. That feature alone made the ten speed bike better than the one speed bike. If you have ever had to walk alongside your one speed bike instead of riding it while going up a hill, you know exactly what I mean!
Moms, can you imagine life in one speed? I can. I did one speed for a while, but the journey got hard. Living life in one speed wasn’t intentional. It was subtle—very subtle. I imagine I was like most moms. My husband and I brought that beautiful bouncing baby girl home from the hospital and I went into action—feeding, changing diapers, bathing, changing clothes, combing hair, doing laundry, packing baby bags, and on and on and on. I did it day after day, month after month, year after year, and I neglected to shift. It just became natural for me to do it all, even after I had my second child. I was too exhausted as the mom of two young girls, only 18 months apart (yeah, almost twins). I did manage to make some minor adjustments along the way, but I can’t say I had actually shifted gears. I didn’t even realize I was supposed to shift gears. The realization came when my 7-year-old niece came to stay at our home for the weekend. She was about the same age as my girls, but she was extremely independent. She took showers (not 30 minute baths with the perfect water temperature, bubbles, and toys). She had selected and packed her own clothes, managed her own hair fairly decently, and much more. I was SHOCKED! It had never occurred to me that my girls were at the age where they could do more for themselves. Somewhere along the way, between the hustle and bustle of life, and the longing to just get things taken care of, I had become like a maid, an unpaid maid I should add.
That day I did what any good mom would do- I FIRED the MAID, and HIRED the COACH! This revelation did not mean I would no longer serve my kids, it just meant I would start training them as well. I honor and respect the position of a maid, and in no way am I putting it down, but in the life of a mom, the maid must be a seasonal position. You must know when to shift gears and start coaching instead. A maid does everything for you. A coach trains, instructs, and prepares you. Prepares you for what? They PREPARE you to WIN the upcoming game (of life). Once the game begins, the coach isn’t allowed to get in the game and play for the player. At best, the coach can give guidance from the sidelines. A great coach uses practice time to show the player what to do, watches them do it, and then gives them any needed correction or further guidance until they can successfully do it on their own. The coach is satisfied from seeing the player use the preparation he or she taught them, and score big during the game! Just like game day comes for the player, the day will come where your child will be on their own, putting all your instruction into action. Prepare them NOW to WIN when that time comes. But keep in mind, WINNING TAKES TRAINING!
That ten speed bike I mentioned earlier is much like the life of a mom. As our children grow, we have to make the necessary adjustments for a much easier ride. I have seen it time and time again, you know, that burned out feeling you get when you don’t shift gears. That is because LIFE IS NOT MEANT TO BE LIVED IN ONE GEAR. Most of the time when the moms I know get burned out I ask them what are their responsibilities and what are their kid’s responsibilities around the house. I have usually found it’s the mom doing it ALL! Some moms do it all because they got in one speed and stayed there. Due to a lack of knowledge, they missed the shift. Other moms do it all because they don’t want to teach and train. They figure it will save them time and frustration just to do it themselves. That way they know it will be done right. Then there are some moms who have a need to be needed by their child. They attach what they DO for the child with their VALUE to the child, so they joyfully do it all. Moms, please know you are an invaluable treasure simply because of who you ARE, not only because of what you DO for your child. You are valuable just because you are their mom. Remember, when you do it all, you rob your child of the benefit of being responsible and knowing HOW to do things. If the President and First Lady of the United States make their daughters have responsibilities in the White house, why can’t our kids have some responsibilities in our house? Let’s evaluate where we are now so we can make the SHIFT!
Evaluate What – Make a written list of what your household responsibilities are. The best way to get a complete list is to write down every household related thing you do over the next seven days. Seeing it in writing will give you much more clarity than just thinking about your responsibilities in your head. If you’re exhausted just looking at the list, you probably need to shift!
Evaluate Why– Look at each task on your list and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Is it because your kids are infants? Is it because your kids are too busy (this busy kid thing will be in an upcoming blog)? Do you pity your kids, and think giving them responsibilities is unfair? Be HONEST with yourself. There may be some good reasons. There may also be some not so good reasons. It’s okay, that’s why you are doing this evaluation.
Evaluate Who & When– Who can do what you are doing? When can they start? This is about establishing age appropriate duties for your kids. If your toddler can take toys out the toy chest, they can also put toys back in the toy chest. Have you ever observed all the duties a child has at their school? Even the kindergartener has to empty their own lunch tray. Why can’t they empty their dinner plate at home? Can your 7-year-old access the cabinets? Have them help put away clean dishes. Maybe they can put canned goods neatly in the pantry. Are you still waking your kids up every morning? Why not get them their own alarm clock without a snooze button? Are you still telling them when to get in and out the shower? Put a timer in there; let them set it to 10 minutes before they get in the shower; when it goes off, they have to get out the shower. Can your child fold towels, move clothes from the washer to the dryer? Do they know their colors? If so, get a dark, white, and bright-colored laundry baskets and have them sort the clothes accordingly. Teach them to make their bed correctly, instead of you doing it for them. You get my point, right coach? Show them how, do it with them, watch them do it, make corrections as needed, and then let them have it. You will always OVERSEE everything and hold them accountable, but you don’t have to DO everything.
SUPERMOM Tip– Making the necessary shifts can help you not to burnout quickly. It’s not about making lazy moms, but making responsible kids! Coach your kids on how to do things for themselves. When game time comes, they will be ready, and you will be proud to watch them WIN!
What are your thoughts? Have you been the maid for too long? Do you plan to implement these steps? I enjoy your feedback and comments.