Being a mom is really hard sometimes. Being an adult is really hard sometimes. Keeping it all together is really hard sometimes. I’ve been making an effort, though, lately, to show my kids how hard I work.
The home tasks never end, we all know this. The laundry keeps coming, the lunches need to be packed, the dog hair takes over the floor, the toilet paper needs to be restocked, the dinners need to be planned and made. I could go on and on, but I am kind of stressing myself out just starting that list. I also work full-time outside the home, so these tasks have to be accomplished in the mornings, the evenings, and the weekends.
For a long time, I didn’t want to dilute the “quality time” I was spending with my kids with domestic tasks. This didn’t work on a practical level, because doing all of that during the 2 hours between when my kids are asleep until I am… didn’t work. I want down time, too. My 4 year old also at one point mentioned that the garbage can is emptied by magic… and I knew I had gone terribly wrong.
What I have started doing is laying it all out very clearly for my kids. Do you notice I am always working? I do these things so that we can have yummy, healthy dinners. So that we can have clean sheets. So that we can do fun things this weekend. Wow, this is a lot of work!
My husband and I go out of our way to point out and thank each other in front of the kids for the invisible work. “Thanks for remembering the baby needed more diapers!” “That was such a fun day, thanks for planning it!”
Some of the work I love and am happy to do for my family (some… less so…) but it is work nonetheless. And I tell them so. Not in a beaten down, poor me kind of way, but recognizing the effort I am putting into making our lives work.
So what’s the idea here? Just as I want to model other healthy habits- mom exercises to be strong and healthy, this food is delicious and helps keep my body healthy- I want to model what being an adult is. I want my sons to see their dad’s domestic work, so that they won’t grow up to be men who “help out,” but men who share the load, men who can take care of themselves and people they love. So much of motherhood can feel like pushing ourselves and our needs out of the picture, so that we can accommodate those of our families. But what is this teaching our kids?
For young ones, I am explicit. I tell them, “I am a person, too. I have feelings. I also need to use the potty.” Or have a snack. Or take a break. I do not want to raise men who discount the needs of the women in their lives. If I had daughters, I wouldn’t want to raise women who believe their needs take a back seat to those of the men in their lives.
And so the kids have (age-appropriate) tasks and chores, and I will keep pointing out that while teamwork may make the dream work, this house runs on mom and dad’s hard work.