No More Team of One: How to Get Your Family to Pitch in and Help Out.
If you have a team of people under your roof but feel like you're "doing it all", this episode is for you! It's common in family life for one person to end up doing the lion's share of the work - managing the insane family calendar, cleaning up after everyone, finding sitters...the list goes on. This episode I share how my own family went from being a "team of one" to a team where everyone is pitching in and helping out. Can you say more PEACE (no more nagging), more JOY (kids are more confident and engaged) and more CONNECTION (my husband and I have regular date nights again!)? Yes, please!
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Quick follow up: Welcome back to the FOC Show! THIS is episode 2 and we are talking about Feeling like a team of ONE even though you’ve got a spouse or partner AND kids under your roof. So last episode we heard from Steve Markel, the founder and CEO of Families of Character and he shared his own personal story of raising kids and his frustration in not knowing what to do when his kids were teens and were entitled, lazy and selfish. What he realized is that he was focusing on all the wrong things - which is ironic because the same things he focused on 40years ago tend to be the things parents THESE days overemphasize as well…grades & athletic achievement. Go back and take a listen to episode 1 if you haven’t already. There’s some great connecting points in Steve’s personal story.
Well, just the other day I ran into a woman who told me she had the perfect child. I found that intriguing and asked her, “does he ever talk back?” She answered, “No.” Well, he plays a lot of video games, right?” Nope. “Huh… He must get into fights with his brother and sister…” Never. “Wow,” I answered. “You really must have the perfect kid.” I couldn’t help asking, “So, what’s your secret?” She smiled. “He’ll be six months old next Wednesday.”
We all have the perfect kids and families for a few months, don’t we??? But things have a way of unfolding. Or should I say unraveling over time… this episode will give you a little glimpse into my family story.
I’ve kinda written the book on what NOT to do when it comes to perfect parenting. (Ok, not literally, but figuratively)
When my husband and I got married 18 years ago, we were most definitely each other’s main priority. Then we had our first child. My heart was SO full for that little boy!! I immediately began meeting his every need… his very life depended on me! I took my role as a mom SERIOUSLY! He was the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last before I fell asleep. Not even joking. I committed at that moment -as a new mom- to do whatever it took to be sure my son had whatever he needed to be happy, healthy and successful.
My husband moved to the backseat.
Then we adopted a dog - man, I loved that dog, a greyhound. I jumped right in caring for Sawyer just like I did my son - anticipating his needs and meeting them. My husband was sharing the back seat with the dog and the toddler…sometimes actually getting tossed in the trunk, if I’m honest.
I was working full time as a counselor AND wearing the “super mom cape” before and after work hours. Then we had our 2nd child. My husband and I were loving the parenting moments…. when we actually stopped to look at each other long enough to share them, but looking back...the sparks between he and I were fading and the time I had so exclusively devoted to him during our dating days had now been split 4 ways. (Son 1, Son 2, Dog, then husband...in that order-although I didn’t even realize it at the time) Then we moved from Texas to Colorado to be closer to family and had our third child. A girl! She stole my heart just like the boys and I couldn’t wait to give HER everything she wanted and needed, either! And as long as I was taking care of the “kid stuff” and the home, I thought I was giving my husband a real gift by him only having to focus on his job. What a lucky guy! ;)
Imagine how this plays out, over time. My kids are now older and are involved in sports, clubs and are doing that tricky math...and I’ve loved them SO much they’ve never had to do anything for themselves (make their bed, pack their lunches, clean up after themselves). So now...WHO is getting 3 different sports bags ready, managing the insane family calendar, working 40 hours a week AND maintaining the household? You guessed it! Yours truly!
What does that look like? I’ll tell you what it looks like...a burnt-out, haggard, nag of a wife and mother! That’s what it looked like. Loving my husband and kids OUT of the family-in essence, benching them while I ran the ball down the field for yards and yards and yards before I ever realized no one was behind me! We were all living under one roof and shared the same last name, but everyone was living in their own separate world...we had all built up these silos around us and the only needs we were thinking of were our own. Everyone was used to mom “doing it all” but yet they were hiding from me. My husband had his own career goals he had poured himself into (imagine if you’re a man and your wife is absent...making your career your mistress? I was lucky it wasn’t worse) and each of my children were walking on eggshells wondering when I was going to snap at them or nag them to pitch in when I’ve never actually bothered to condition them to be part of the team in the first place.
I’ll never forget this- At one point my daughter randomly said “Mom...I think dad wants to move. I don’t think he wants to move away...I just don’t think he wants to live here.” Talk about a punch to the gut! My 4 yr old was picking up on the distance and noticing the silos before I had!
I’m telling you…Anger and resentment set in big time for me. I realized I’d taken on too much and couldn’t possibly keep up. Responsibility burnout is REAL! I remember thinking...How do I begin to tear down these silos that separate us in order to grow in love, joy, and unity? And do I even have the mental energy to thumb through someone else’s playbook to find a different, better way? I was EXHAUSTED and no one in my family was having fun on this team!
You see, what I didn’t realize when I was a young mom who was so full of love for her children (and dog), was that I would need to be intentional about making my husband a priority and intentional about transitioning my kids from that dependent, nursing phase of their life to a life where they were becoming more and more responsible for themselves. Many of us make this same mistake, where we equate love with “doing for and giving our kids whatever they want when they want it”.
But True love is when we engage our spouse and our children to grow in positive daily habits that form their character. If I hoard these habits myself and do them from a place of resentment...that’s not love. If I deprive them of the challenges of balancing their needs with their wants...that’s not love either.
One day, it dawned on me… I need to share! I need to share the family calendar with all the players on my team so they have a chance of helping to manage activities AND become responsible for their own activities and plans. (I must admit…it felt like I had found a cure to cancer, when this occurred to me.) No more “team of ONE”!
So, here’s what I put together for my own family to help get us all on the same page and engage everyone to pitch in and become responsible for their own tasks! It’s the platform for everything we do! (Seriously…this is where it ALL happens! We started this in 2019 and have continued every single week since!)
A Weekly Family Huddle! Think of a sports team and why they huddle up consistently. A family huddle is exactly that!
Here are the 3 Essential Steps we implemented to unify our team and eliminate the team of one in order to get more peace and laughter back in our home.
#1. Choose a growth theme to hone in on for the month (Example: Respect, Responsibility or in our case, Organization). Imagine this theme being front and center in the minds of everyone in the family, for 30 days. A focused GROWTH MINDSET helped our team feel solid because we knew the game plan. No more “just wingin’ it”!
#2. Then, have a brief Weekly Family Huddle and encourage positive participation by all members! During your huddle, simply review the calendar for the next week, allowing everyone to see the schedule - getting a visual is KEY for spouse and kids alike. (Remember, sharing is caring! If they can’t see and don’t know, you may remain a team of ONE…noooo!) Huddling up UNITED us and helped foster a strong sense of belonging from our teenager all the way down to the toddler. It’s true that when we feel we belong and are not alone, we are more resilient, often coping more effectively with difficult times in our lives. Coping well with hardships decreases the physical and mental effects of these situations. Can I get an Amen?!
#3. Finally, identify one specific goal to work on, daily, between Family Huddles that relates to the theme of the month. (Example: Organization - daily goal is to get up when the alarm goes off and make bed.) When each person in the family had the freedom to choose a specific vice to change…they felt empowered and supported by the rest of us! Daily ACTION felt like conditioning/strength training with the team. Each of us had a different “workout” depending on our position on the team, but we felt positive knowing everyone was doing their part to make our whole team stronger!
Funny sidebar: We end our huddles by circling up and placing our hands on top of eachother and someone counts to 3 and we yell “TEAM LANGDON” at the top of our lungs as we throw our hands in the air! Then we celebrate with a family reward like ice cream sundaes or movie night. That’s IT!
This simple Daily, Weekly, Monthly formula of Growth, Unity and Action has taken this former burnt out, exhausted, resentful mom from feeling like a team of ONE to a refreshed, goal oriented, joyful mom who still takes a lead role managing the family calendar, but now has willing and able players who step in and share the tasks and responsibilities, with joy! And my husband…he’s back in the front seat, WITH me! Date nights are even a regular thing on our calendar now! And the confidence and courage of our kids has gone through the roof, because they are taking ownership of all those things I was doing FOR them, before. It’s awesome.
Team Langdon went from not even being able to make plans for the upcoming weekend because we were so bogged down in the “day to day” to a family who is planning months in advance and even tackling some awesome 5 year plans (like visiting all 50 states, skiing every winter, tithing to charities and more!).
You, too, can do this! TEAM JONES…TEAM KENNEDY…TEAM NGUYEN...TEAM ROBERTS! Join our community of families who are building character and cruising into summer with a game plan! See…summer really CAN be that easy, breezy, well deserved break we all need!
This is my challenge to you for this week:
I want you to consider where you are in family life and what might happen if you begin thinking INTENTIONALLY. (What do I mean by that? What would your family experience if you began having a weekly family huddle to get everyone on the same page in a positive way…what if you began thinking intentionally about how you parent your kids and how you grow as a family… have a conversation with your spouse about this…write about it in a journal…jump on our Private Facebook Group “Thrive, by FOC” and post about it or DM us. Let’s get the ball rolling in 2022!
I can tell you with CERTAINTY…once my husband and I started being INTENTIONAL about our parenting…our family transformed and we continue to be excited about growing more and more!
So…that’s a wrap for today! If you like what you heard, please share it with your friends and family. Check us out on FB, INSTA and join our private FB Group “Thrive, by FOC” in that group we continue to uplift, inspire and give practical advice on how to take your parenting and family life to the next level.
Thanks for joining us and please remember….we are ALWAYS in your corner!