Do you ever feel like you are struggling constantly but never making any progress in your role as a mom? You know motherhood is valuable, but you feel so overwhelmed by all the “hats” you’re supposed to wear, such as cook, chauffeur, and counselor, just to name a few. Moms feel pressure to wear all these hats while modeling the latest SUPER MOM attire, toting around little SUPER KID who must be best at everything he participates in, and he participates in pretty much EVERYTHING because, after all, he is SUPER KID! How do we stop the insanity?! In part one of “Wearing All Your Hats Without Wearing Out” I told you about our enemy, Satan (a liar and deceiver), who aims to destroy our families. Just like he tempted Jesus in the desert, the Devil loves to tell a mom that she must be SUPER MOM or else she will be FAILURE MOM. So moms do their very best to wear all of those hats that seem IMPOSSIBLE to wear and wind up feeling defeated by all the pressure.
If we mothers are not supposed to do everything, how do we figure out what we are supposed to do. I have identified four main hats that a mom should wear and I’d like to share them a with you: Master Gardener, Manager of the Monkeys (and I don’t mean your kids), Visionary, and Barometer.
The truth that our enemy doesn’t want us to think about is that we as moms are not supposed to be chasing the supposedly ideal Super Mom. A main hat that God wants moms to wear is the hat of Master Gardener, for, instead of running on a hamster wheel, we are to be tending a garden. This garden is growing the most priceless of plants – our children. Gardeners know that much hard work is necessary before we see results, but the gardener does all of this because of her love for the plants and the anticipation of the beautiful springtime blossoms to come. When I think of my children’s futures, what does their “life in bloom” look like? For me, I see it as a time when all their abilities, experiences, and passions come together to display God’s glory through them as they pursue God’s specific-fashioned will for their individual life. That image will take many years to come to fruition. That’s their life in bloom and that’s why I tend the garden, working to help them have strong souls, minds, and bodies that are someday going to be a fascinating masterpiece, a collage of God’s intricate involvement in their lives. It is not going to necessarily look great today – the soil is dirty, the sun is hot, there are some weeds to take out, some pests to purge, and even some pruning to do before the beautiful blooms come.
How’s your patience? Because if you want the best kinds of blooms – the ones that really last, with large beautiful petals, it’s going to require patience and consistency. When my seven kiddos were all little and I was so tired and overwhelmed, I would muster up the energy to train them AGAIN on how to handle the current squabble or dispute between them, or I’d reluctantly give consequences for not following through with a task AGAIN. I would wonder if taking this time on their character was really worth it. Now that most of them are grown, I see their lives and characters flourishing and it makes me so thankful that we made their character development a top priority.
All plants have some basic needs that should be consistently met – providing sunlight, water, and soil while giving protection from weather and harmful pests. If we overdue any of the essentials, our treasured plants start to die: too much sunlight, they wither; too much water, they rot; too deep in the soil and they can’t sprout. In general, moms these days feel an obligation to overdo everything with our kids rather than giving them enough. As a gardener, we need to give our plants enough, not too little and not too much. Satan wants us to believe that we should give our kids too much – do everything for them, give them everything, make them the very best at everything (there’s a difference between doing things with excellence in a balanced life and winning all categories at the cost of our family’s sanity and peace). Until the plants (our children) are strong enough to withstand the environment on their own, we need to provide protection from inclement weather while also eliminating choking weeds and unwanted pests. Mother gardeners are protecting our children from destructive elements until their roots are deep and their trunks are stout enough to withstand the harmful elements of the world.
As we grow our gardens, moms don’t want to be just any old gardener. We want to be Master Gardeners (and by Master I mean that we look to the Master, our Lord Jesus) to see how best to raise these priceless plants under our care. We read about how the Master told us to handle life in His word, we listen for the voice of the Master who is giving us specific direction for our day, and we implement changes in our lives to align with Him).
Jesus, our example for living abundantly in all areas, is even an example to us in the reality that not all things are to get done: The crowds were following Jesus, wanting Him to heal them and teach them. Pretty soon He chose to get in a boat to get some distance from the crowd and He even took a nap! (Mark 4:38) Sure, he cared about the crowds and He wanted to meet the people’s needs, but He also knew there was only so much that He was intended to do at that moment. Another time, when his mother asked Him to change the water into wine at the wedding feast, he did do what she asked but He also told her that it wasn’t the right time for Him to be doing miracles yet (John 2:4). Similarly, he scolded the disciples when they fussed at the woman who poured expensive perfume on His feet when He said, “the poor you will always have with you, but you will only have me for a little while” (John 12:3).
In other words Jesus was saying, “Disciples, there will always be poor people that she can help, but this is the only moment in which she can spend this time with me. Do not overlook this precious moment in which I want her to focuse on me.” This is an example of what I call a “God-moment” and I believe that one of the most important ways to be a Master Gardener mom is to be always on the lookout for the potential “God-moments” in our children’s days. Jesus could say something similar to mothers by saying, “There will always be floors to vacuum, dishes to wash, kids that need to get somewhere on time and meals to figure out, but wait… do you see this more valuable, fleeting God-moment in your child’s life right now? Do not be distracted by the things of this world.” Jesus was showing that it is best to Slow down and experience this most vital and irreplaceable experience that He has prepared for your family. Stop and linger there in those God-moments, even enjoy them. Take the time to abundantly live the God-moments of your children’s days. Train your children to listen for His quiet and gentle voice, to watch for Him at work in your family’s needs and in your blessings, help your kids to identify His fingerprints on the world around them. Soak up those moments and let God saturate these times with your family. Lead by example by being a sheep who listens for His voice and who lingers in the green pastures of His presence.
Moms, the false view of Super-Mom and Super-Star Kid carries an empty promise that leads to all the wrong things, such as emotional and physical burnout. The amazing thing about God and His ways is that when we focus on the right things- like the God-moments in each day, He brings to fruition many of those other hopes and desires of our hearts, but He does it in His way, in His timing, and in ways that bring Him glory. A Master Gardener (in this case, a gardener who follows the Master) isn’t focused on the scurry and hurry of the rest of the world, rather she is focused on patiently, consistently tending her garden and this Master Gardener is especially focused on the God-moments that are the best nourishment of all for her growing plants.
How can we identify the God-moments when all day is chaos? Oh, now here is the key! You must organize and delegate for you can not identify the God-moments in the midst of chaos and disorganization. And so we come to the next appropriate mom hat, Manager of the Monkeys.
MANAGER OF THE MONKEYS Hat (and I don’t mean your kids)
“Well,” you are saying to me, “now isn’t that a warm-fuzzy image about God-moments and gardens, but for the real world I have bills that need to be paid, kids who are hungry for lunch, and quite frankly I’d like a shower today.” Mom, I get it; I hear you. What I’ve figured out in my own life is that it’s a wrong paradigm to think that I should be the sole cook, maid, seamstress, and every other task that is needed to have a family, but I am the Manager of all of those needs. There’s a difference psychologically and physically in a paradigm of “all the tasks are mom’s hats to wear” versus “mom manages the tasks and who they belong to,” which means doing some, delegating some, dumping some, and letting some go undone.
Let’s look specifically at the tasks that you need to be delegating to your children, often referred to as “chores.” Are you sure you’re delegating chores EFFECTIVELY? Let’s say you walk into the bathroom and see that your four-year-old son brushed his teeth and left toothpaste-spit in the sink. Lovely. Before you go off to scold him or give him consequences, you should ask yourself, “Okay, I taught him how to BRUSH his teeth, but have I ever clearly shown him how to clean up after he’s done brushing?” If the answer is, “no,” then frankly, you can only blame yourself for that lovely little mess in the sink. Training a child in what excellence looks like in a given task requires some time but it is well worth it! Keep reading, I’d like to show you how DELEGATING TASKS can be best for all of the family, including your kids!
Delegating jobs to our kids is not a cop-out on our responsibilities. Rather it is teaching them to be responsible, which prepares them for abundant living as adults while it also gives them a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency now. I wanted my kids to have a visual of me giving them a responsibility so I use the phrase “monkey on your back” to describe giving them a task that I want them to own. I’ll often tell my kids, “I am giving this ‘monkey’ to you. Own your monkey.” Recently my youngest son, a junior in high school, asked me what his password login is for the ACT prep account that I had just set up for him. While I didn’t mind looking up the password and giving it to him, I didn’t want to look it up multiple times- when he asks again tomorrow and the day after, etc. I could instead make him in charge of something that should be appropriately his. But it wouldn’t be effectively giving him that “monkey” if I said, “now don’t forget this password because I don’t want to tell you again.” Instead, I want to equip him with a success habit that will help him throughout life. So I told him, “get a little notebook and label it “ Andrew’s Passwords.’ ” Then when I told him what his password was, it was the only time I would need to give it to him because I was passing the ‘password monkey’ to him which was both saving me time in the long run and giving him a system for being self-sufficient in this area.
So as a mom, I wear the hat of MANAGER of the MONKEYS: identifying what to Do, Delegate, Dump and leave UN-Done. For those tasks that need to be delegated to my children, I make these decisions prayerfully because I really do believe that God wants to be developing different character qualities at different times in each of my kids. I try to delegate jobs by assigning them to the YOUNGEST one capable of doing each task. Notice that I said, “capable” not
“knowledgeable about” that task. If I am constantly evaluating what my kids are capable of doing, then I am constantly increasing their ability and self-sufficiency. Resist the temptation to give the monkey to the one who you can most easily hand it off to, such as the oldest or the one who won’t complain about it, because this Manager of the Monkeys role is not about making life easier for you, it is about GROWING your kids’ abilities, character, work ethic, attitude… Honestly, usually the one who complains the most about a task, is the one who needs to be assigned that task because they’ve clearly got more character development needed in that area.
At our house, the quickest way to be given more work is to have a complaining or sluggish attitude in completing a chore. When we allow complaining, we actually are keeping them focused on the negative in situations and allowing them to have no emotional self-control. Once this bad habit is reduced, you can imagine how more peaceful and pleasant a home can be! (By complaining, I’m referring to an attitude of whininess). I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t hear our kids out when they want to talk about some suggestions on how to do chores more effectively in some way or brainstorming on how to make it more fun, even. I want them to think and reason and create, I just don’t want them to habitually complain. I’ll reward ingenuity all day long, but I’m not rewarding complaining ever. A home where work is done pleasantly with excellence means you’ve all got way more time for fun and freedom as you haven’t wasted time on kids complaining about the job and trying to weasel out of the job, mom nagging about the job or having to have a child redo the job because the quality of work was poor. Just think of how much time is freed up when we get those issues taken care of! Consider your children’s future employers and spouses, and the success that they’ll experience in those situations because they learned to own their task, with excellence as their standard, and all with a joyful attitude. Now that’s an atmosphere of abundant living for each person in the family! (Don’t send me comments about my being unreasonable and raising robot kids. The truth is that whining, complaining, and low quality standards equals a much more unhappy life for your kids and is definitely not something I want for my kids.) A life of abundance is only possible if we reduce bad habits that keep us from joy, peace, and freedom. While we’re on this topic, I will also say, if they have learned emotional and physical self-control, developing good habits in these areas, then when they have an off day where they’re not displaying these qualities, you as mom are able to quickly identify that something is going on with that child and you want to figure out what’s up. I refer to this as being the Barometer in your child’s life, and that’s the third mom-hat. You can learn more about being a Barometer of your kids in “Wearing All Your Hats Without Wearing Out, 3 of 3.”
So, just to sum this up- we moms are encouraged to believe that all the various tasks in our lives are an obligatory mom-hat and your worth as a mom is based on how well you complete all those tasks. But those tasks are actually just tasks, they’re not the main thing about motherhood. In fact, many of those tasks, if dispersed appropriately, are just right for developing your kids into people who experience Abundant Living!
How to Hand Off a Monkey: Effectively DELEGATING
Show it, Watch it, Praise it, Repeat, Followup with
*Standard of Excellence
*Praising what you want Repeated
When you give a task to one of your children for the first time it requires DETAILED TRAINING: Show It, Watch It, Praise it, Repeat, Followup. Show them what doing this task with excellence as the standard looks like by you doing it while they watch, then having them do it while you watch, being coach and cheerleader while you’re watching, correcting with a standard of excellence, praising a job well done. Yes, this process does require a big chunk of time the first time you delegate a particular “monkey” to a particular child (and perhaps even needs to be repeated the second time you assign this task to that child, depending on the child’s age and the complexity of the task), but in the long run, thorough training as you delegate something new SAVES a great deal of time and results in a much more smoothly functioning home. Remember, one of our goals in delegating is to eliminate the chaos that is keeping us from identifying the God-moments in our days. It is worth it! So effective delegation steps are Show it, Watch it, Praise it, Repeat, and one more step, Followup – to see how their task ended up.
Recently my youngest child, age eight, had been tasked with cleaning and cutting the radishes. When I came and checked the job afterwards I saw that she had left the stems and leaves on the counter and hadn’t put away the container of radishes either. I could have cleaned up her mess myself and that would have been quicker in the moment, but it wouldn’t have produced the character in her that we’re aiming for and it would mean she would continue to work with a low standard in the future. So, I went and got her to have her take a look at the mess. I asked, “What is incomplete about this job?” She immediately knew that she hadn’t really finished because I’ve told her many times, “A job isn’t complete unless it’s cleaned up and put away.” She said, “I didn’t finish cleaning up and putting it away,” so I had her finish the job and gave her an extra job because I need her to know that “incomplete work always has some consequences”. I didn’t give her an extra job AND a scolding, just an extra job. I used to do both (and still fall into that trap on occasion), but I have learned that gently spoken consequences are much more effective than lecturing and much less harmful to our relationship. Following up after a task may be time consuming at the moment, but it will create a much more peaceful, less chaotic home in the long run as well as producing character qualities that are necessary for abundant living. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” If you delegate with quality training, appropriate expectations, and consistent follow-up with necessary consequences as needed, it will pay off both in relieving of workload for you AND (most importantly) it will be wonderful character development for your children’s abundant life!
In addition to Master Gardener and Manager of the Monkeys, there are two more mom hats, roles that ONLY YOU can fulfill in your child’s life, the VISIONARY and BAROMETER Hats, see part 3 of Wearing All Your Hats Without Wearing Out to finish up this topic. I would be so honored if you would choose to follow my blog by clicking on Subscribe below.