Article #39, November, 2005
You Truly Deserve To Be Happy - Today
OK, we all acknowledge that women care more for others than for themselves, and that our kids, parents, spouses, employees, etc. all suffer when we are depleted. How do they suffer? Your children miss you. They want to just be with you, but you never sit down - even the teenagers. Ask them. They want to talk to you about the kid at school who they like/hate and ask your advice, but you're busy and they don't want to interrupt.
Your employees are unhappy with some aspect of their job, but they don't want to bother you with it. Instead, they begin looking for a new job.
Now that the problem has been identified, solutions are needed. Not just any solutions, but easy to implement solutions that almost everyone can do. Some ways in which to reward yourself don't even take any more time, just a little fore-thought.
Many women care for children. Being a good parent will take a lot of time, and I believe it's our responsibility to be good parents if we have decided to have children. One big mistake many parents make, however, is deciding that their children's childhoods must be joyful every moment. That's just not your most important responsibility as a parent!
How happy will your children be at age 21 when they're out on their own with no life skills? Soon, they will be living in filth, eating nothing but fast food and horrifically in debt. That's what happens when you don't teach your children to clean, cook and manage their money. While that sounds like a lot of work, it can make your life much easier in the long run. Start assigning chores early and often. Let them know that a family is a team and every member contributes.
- At around age 4, begin teaching your children to set and clear the table for meals
- At about age 6, begin teaching your children to empty the trash and sort the laundry
- As they show the ability to assume more responsibility, begin teaching them to:
- prepare simple meals,
- Do dishes,
- And do laundry (nothing delicate!)
When shopping for clothes, give your children a budget and teach them what "20% off" means and how to calculate it. Assign chores liberally and clearly, keeping preferences and skill levels in mind, and reward generously. Remember, each child is different - reward accordingly. My younger daughter isn't as interested in money as my older daughter, for example. Also, clearly communicate and enforce consequences, so the chores actually get done!
Husbands and other adults in your household will treat you exactly the way you let them. If you insist on doing everything around the house, they will let you! Communication is the key here, too.
If you both work, your husband may honestly believe there is an equitable division of labor in your household when there isn't. You can choose to accept this or talk about it. If you choose to accept this situation, stop complaining about it and let go of your resentment. This is your choice.
Since men are typically more visual than women, if you choose to talk about it, have visual aids. For example, make lists of everyone's responsibilities around the house, and how much time per month each chore requires. For example, grass mowing/snow shoveling may take 2 hours per month, grocery shopping - 6 hours, menu planning - 4 hours, transporting kids to and from school - 22 hours, etc. Don't forget errands. Add up everyone's totals, then talk about them. That way, it's clearly in black and white, not just opinions.
Once you have more evenly allocated everything you can, it's time to talk about being happy.
If you are not in the habit of treating yourself well, you will need to start small and schedule small kindnesses. Here's your homework: make a list of 20 activities you love to do. These can include things you do or don't do now, like reading, horseback riding, dancing, baking, etc. Two days later, look at your list and ask yourself, "Am I doing anything on this list?" Take 20 minutes and just think about this; no multi-tasking!
See how you can incorporate small things into your week. Subscribe to a magazine and spend 10 minutes reading it every day. Actually sit down when you drink your tea/coffee in the morning, and have a piece of chocolate with it! Call one friend every week and tell her you only have 10 minutes, but you wanted to say hello. Start saying 'no' – a lot - and let the machine pick up the phone.
Would you want your husband or employees to be miserable and resentful? Of course not! It makes their lives better if you are happy, too. You deserve it just as much as everyone else. Don't wait another day - have some ice cream and get a pedicure. Simple pleasures make a world of difference.
What small things do you do for yourself? Email me your self-rewards at firstname.lastname@example.org