Her Highness Jodi in two comments at 1328 describes her overloaded life as wife to a busy husband and mother to eight children 15 and under. She has to do every aspect of housekeeping and living together all by herself; she seeks help but nobody answers her pleas. Her frustrations and angst appear normally in motherhood. The following may have more application than just for her.
Jodi, you’ve mastered the artistry of a great wife and housekeeper. You only have to develop the habits of a great mother, which is finding gratitude in everyone and all they do regardless of how displeased you may be with their effort.
Recovery is everything but it takes time. You have all you need but perhaps these suggestions can help with re-nesting your situation:
Contributions are more important than results, both from mom and children not yet fully developed. You know what is required for good housekeeping, but does it all have to be done so well for good nesting? Really? What can only be done by mom? How can re-nesting relieve pressure on her?
Self-development of the children is a process, and so is life. The clean house today will be less so tomorrow. Consequently, perfection, much like equality, isn’t achievable and time spent on it is wasted. Mom serves herself better when she harmonizes the efforts of everyone so that the process of family life is calm rather than disruptive by a bunch of never ending tasks left as mom’s exclusive burden.
Re tasks and responsibilities assigned by a parent, when perfection is expected self-development stops because the child’s attitude sours against parental authority. Self-development includes each child reinforcing this lesson repeatedly: ‘I know best HOW to do WHAT you expect me to do’. Practice then brings better results if not perfection.
If already common practice, the following bad habits should be stamped out: parental expectations too high for each child’s maturity, excessive supervision, and everyone having to meet mom’s standards for how THINGS ought to be. Those disruptive expectations work against mom three ways: They prevent her finding 1) her self-importance as vital to children’s self-development before her eyes. 2) Finding gratefulness for what she has, is producing, and the various characters with whom she associates in her nest. 3) Reduced ability to earn the respect of children, because mom doesn’t show respect for them as persons capable of contrary thoughts and decisions.
Alter your thinking to accommodate this model and sell it to husband. Parents have four roles: husband, wife, mother, and father. Each is responsible to do their best in each role and report to the one to the left. The purpose is to have one person responsible to fill each role. It provides the kids with what makes everyone a better follower. Only one boss better manages future relationships, and that’s what child development is all about. Benefits seem obvious until you see father reporting to mother about the kids. It will be tough to convince your husband as family head that he as father should fill a minor role and let you be responsible for children’s behavior and discipline.
Don’t let the kids see you and husband disagree over family matters. Take every husband-wife disagreement behind closed doors. Any disagreements the children see will be used to play you and husband against one another later when the kids want something. OTOH, when mother and father disagree in front of the kids, it’s okay as long as children see that husband relents and mother shows up as the ultimate boss until at least after puberty. (Confusing reigns when people have two bosses and they learn to play one against the other; you’ve seen it at work, right?)
Don’t try to raise good kids; they will disappoint you at home or later in the teens. Give them more to yearn for. Specifically, raise them to be good adults and childhood will be much calmer.
Hold your temper. The more upset the children see you become, the more instinctively they learn how to outwit, outsmart, and outmaneuver you and other adults as they grow up. They quickly learn to read you like a book according to emotional outbursts. Calmness sells you as an effective leader in your nest and good role model for adulthood.
Say nothing until you convince yourself you can live with it. Keep your word. Let kids learn that your actions always follow your words. Their respect of you will grow according to how reliable you are for meaning and holding to what you say. As their respect grows, they will more easily please mom just because she’s who she is.
It’s much better than anger, yelling, or obvious displeasure that others witness. Teach your children that a sour look or stare from you is enough for them to correct their current misbehavior. Make it so that others don’t see your correcting them. It’s a marvelous way for them to see how well they are respected, which confirms their worth as undeveloped little men and women rather than just immature kids. They are that astute about growing up and appreciate being treated adult-like.
We are all self-developers, including your husband but he’s developing himself in his business and needs harmony in the home. Leave him out of nesting as much as practicable. Deal with him as his wife and not mother or housekeeper. Expect his husbandly affection and appreciation but don’t use his help with mothering.
Encourage father to lead, teach, and play rather than discipline the kids. If they need discipline, you handle it. Encourage him to enjoy them and vice versa. Teach and train the children to have high quality character and religious and adult values before puberty, and you’ll not likely require father’s help with the law as teenagers. IOW, let the children find out on their own that they have one boss, YOU, but you’re a kind, considerate, forgiving, and loyal one. Father is your boss and let the kids know it directly. It confirms they don’t have to worry about unfamiliar and unexplainable requirements, because they don’t know what husbands and wives are supposed to be.
Improve the self-development of children by giving each some new responsibilities. Just by being a family member, they have responsibilities up to which they must face even though they will do a lousy job at first as they are self-developers who object to having to change old habits. Each, however, should lift some burden off of you, but don’t use that as an excuse.
Don’t complain to husband and don’t explain yourself to kids. If you have to because pressures build, talk privately to your mom or girlfriend outside the home. Just to unload, not to expect or solicit help. You have exclusive responsibility for good nesting, or you will not do well at it. If you get so anxious that your nerves rattle, you’re going too far and trying too hard. So, follow your heart, trust your instinct, ponder on your intuition. Think things through as if you own the universe, as if you’re a kind and loyal god in your nest, and it will likely calm your nerves. God made you so capable of being a great but not perfect family builder. If guilt over lack of perfection stirs your conscience, you’re way off track.
Nothing has to be perfect, so don’t try to force perfection on children. Let them grow into doing things better, because they learn they can win mom’s approval just for trying. With loving approbation for just trying, they will each learn to do better, and it will help them think like adults in their development.
When children produce unsatisfactory results, forgive them and both respect and live with whatever they do produce. It’s a confirming measure of your respect for them as angels rather than misfits. The next thing they do is try harder to please mom.
You’ll have to work hardest at this. Convert every child’s temporary thought of being a misfit into conviction of his angelic standing within the family and especially mom’s eyes.
Finally, use this leadership model to accomplish that above. Assign specific responsibilities to each child and without duplication as far as practicable (two may have to share keeping their room). Given their level of maturity, delegate sufficient authority to each child to do their tasks as they see the best way and produce their version of what’s at least adequate. Hold each child accountable to at least step up to doing their jobs; doing nothing is unacceptable. Trying is good enough. Bite your tongue when results are not up to your standards. Helping them develop a good work ethic is the most important training you can provide.
They may be adults before you see it, but they will someday step up to meeting your standards. If the standards they meet are high qualities of character, sense of responsibility, dependability, and maturity for their age, you will have been the perfect mom—in their eyes, and that’s where it counts the most.