Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘balance’

What Dad can do

Papa Bear does dishes

Papa Bear does dishes … sometimes ūüėČ

When a stay-at-home/work-from-home mama (SAH/WFHM) is juggling a lot of balls (and she always is), it can be difficult to see how there’s space for teamwork. Often she’s so busy rushing from one thing to the next that her poor Papa Bear feels powerless to do anything more than watch. And you just know she’s too busy to ask for help.

To be honest, it probably doesn’t even occur to her to do. Her mantra is “This is¬†my choice. I¬†can do this. I¬†MUST do this.” And, chanting that to herself as she gives the treadmill of her life what for, she soldiers on.

But just because she¬†can do it all, that doesn’t mean she¬†should. In fact, deeper inspection will probably reveal that she actually¬†can’t do it all, and this is where the thoughtful Papa Bear comes into his own.

The first thing he can do is notice.

Be aware of all she does. Be cognitive and present. Be appreciative. You have no idea how far those 10 little words, “I really appreciate all that you do for our family” go in the heart of a frazzled Mama.¬†What you don’t want to do here is be sarcastic, or in any way demeaning. Implying that the only reason she can do so much is because there’s something wrong with her (OCD, Control Freak, Maniac – these words come to mind) is¬†counter-productive. She’s probably doing it all because she thinks she has to. Just say thank you.

The second thing he can do is innovate.

Our on-the-go Mama can’t see the wood for the trees. If you’re like the¬†Papa Bears I know, you’re kind-of on the outside, looking in. That means you get to be objective. You might see ways to streamline operations: get the kids to help more. Take on some of the responsibility yourself. Hire a maid if you can. (It’s not a luxury when she’s homeschooling, breadwinning and getting just four hours of sleep a night. It’s a sanity saver). Helping to identify and implement practicable solutions – and see them through when she’s too tired to be consistent – will save your marriage. Seriously.

Finally, be reliable.

It’s no good saying you’ll be responsible for the laundry, then leaving it to pile up and fester around the house. It doesn’t help to identify creative solutions for managing the chores, then doing nothing to see things through. Just be there, do what you say you will, keep calm, and carry on. That’s what she needs most of all, and it’s really not that hard to do.

So go do it.

And let me know how it works out.

I’d like to help stay-at-home/work-from-home Mamas find balance and purpose in their busy lives. Let me know what I can write about to help you be the best version of yourself you can be.

Feeling somewhat Stepford.

Another Circle of Moms article got me thinking. The article is about the different parenting styles and strengths of fathers and mothers. Basically, the author is annoyed with people who claim that mothers are better than parents than fathers, or try to compare them at all. I agree wholeheartedly. The simple fact is that neither gender, if each person is a focused and dedicated parent, makes a better parent than the other. They are simply different *.

I have often fallen into the trap of comparing Papa Bear’s style of parenting to mine, and finding his grossly lacking. It is true that he is easily distracted and sometimes, despite being in a room with us, not actually¬†present. But he’s working on that, and it makes him uniquely able to parent Goldilocks through some challenges I to which I simply cannot relate. When I get together with my girlfriends this syndrome is stronger than ever, and we find ourselves spiralling into a tightly wound mesh of frustration and impotence at their “otherness“.

Since we’ve been home educating, and because we work so much and spend so much non-work time at Church, we’ve spent a lot more time together as a family, and far less time with our friends. This has pros and cons, of course. But at a recent gathering of friends, we were struck by this “moms vs dads” tendency more than ever.¬†To my suprise Papa Bear was most gentle and solicitious of me, fetching me glass after glass of tonic water and not joining in with a lot of the regular “guy talk” centered around spousal deficiencies. For my part, I stuck up for his new face fuzz!

I was so proud of him and felt so loved. It took all I had not to go all Stepford on everyone: hair in a bun, long skirt, prim smile and glowing, overflowing praise for My Man. Not to mention casserole in one hand, perfect pie in the other!¬†(Ironically, I normally do pretty much look like that, and he certainly deserves a lot of glowing praise. And don’t all Baptists carry casseroles in their apron pockets?)

Such a reaction would not have been¬†appropriate, necessary or helpful. But after reading today’s article, I thought the differences between Papa Bear and I, and how well we complement each other.

I am good at admin and order. He is good at strategy. I am good at basic needs (making sure everyone is clean and fed regularly and often). He is good at fun. (I am no good at all at fun). I am good at Bible Study, he is good at the application to daily situations, not to mention a simple, unwavering faith, which I often battle to maintain. I am good at the rudiments of school, he is good at the exciting parts: science, maths and engineering come naturally to him and he makes them fun. (That word again!)

We really are a good team and I am blessed by his presence in my life every day. As much as he drives me crazy sometimes, he is a levelling force, bringing me back to earth and keeping me from spinning out of control. I drive him crazy too, always pushing him forward, but he needs that as much as I need to be held back, an together we are much stronger than apart.

So, dear and wonderful friends, I’m sorry if I am so Stepford that I’m irritating, but Papa Bear is a wonderful part of my life, a blessing to me, my very best friend and staunchest supporter. What seem like shortfalls sometimes are little more than wondrous varieties, and make our lives fuller, richer and more interesting. I can’t be dishonest and say that he’s not all that. I can’t not say how wonderful he is.

*Found this this week on “African Queen”:

There is nothing wrong with something different.
It is just DIFFERENT.
The Bible says that we are to be different from the world:
Hebrews 11:13¬†“These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them,
and confessed that they were strangers and¬†pilgrims¬†on the earth.”
1 Peter 2:11¬†“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and¬†pilgrims,
abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”
We are all supposed to be different from this world and its lusts of the flesh.

On home school, self-employment and domestic goddessery

When I started talking out loud about the possibility of us home schooling the girls, the overwhelming response from most quarters was a screaming “Don’t do it!”. Some people pointed out the lack-of-social-interaction¬†“problem” that everyone jumps to first. I listened and pondered and for a while I even agreed. But as you know, I don’t agree any longer.

The second most common reason given why I shouldn’t home school was structure. More specifically, the lack thereof. Now, in truth, I am a very organised person. I like everything to have a clearly defined, labelled, easy-to-access space, and that space needs to be noted somewhere. Preferably somewhere indexable and searchable. I like clear shelves and lever arch files in matching colours with clear, attractive titles. I like order.

Having said that, I am pragmatic. I learned a long time ago to have clear priorities (although I don’t always stick to them!). So if I have a ton of work to do, I won’t always¬†do the dishes. And there’s a good reason for this: genetics. I come from a long line of hardworking ladies (on both sides of the family), who are very house proud, and who can never start anything until the house is “in order”. What I learnt watching them as I grew up is that the house never stops needing attention. No ¬†matter how many times you wash the dishes, there are always more to do. So now I first do my work (to pay the bills), teach my kids (because I must, and because I love it), and THEN do the house. Of course, by then it tends to be 2am, and I often choose my pillow rather than my sink on which to lavish my attention.

The obvious result tends to be a rather chaotic-looking house, and the irony is that it usually takes less than half an hour to throw it all back together.

How does this apply to actual home school? You may remember a recent blog post about this article: the 5 myths of home schooling. Myth #2 is a lack of structure and today I’m talking about how that myth applies to us personally, as well as discussing this week’s progress. To put it in a nutshell: this week there’s been no progress. The only reason our house isn’t infested with new and peculiar life forms bred in the sticky remnants of half-eaten meals in unwashed dishes is because we have a wondermaid 3 times a week. Thank God.

The last week of every month (this week, in other words), is deadline week for me. What I usually do is put my head down and work flat out for about seven days in a row, trying to get as much done as possible before the new month. And I don’t school. I just can’t fit it in. The girls love it – for the first few days. But by Thursday they’re not happy. Bored and frustrated and tearful, they fight and work on their stomach ulcers (especially DD1), and develop migraines.

Of course, being deadline week I’m already stressed, and it goes without saying that DH, lacking the HW (housework) gene, utterly fails to notice the expanding sewer around him. Plus it also usually manages to be that ¬†time of the month, as well.

I have to keep reminding myself that everyhting about my life right now is the result of calculated choices. I chose to home school. I chose to work. I chose to freelance. And I chose to be married to a boy (as one does). Every four weeks or so, I wonder why.

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