I love my family and even love taking care of them, but our family dynamic has become unbalanced to the point where I feel like a servant. So, before I completely crack and run away, I've decided to go on strike instead. If you're already judging me and can't relate to this feeling, then this post is not for you. Exit and move on - back into your "perfectly" balanced family life/marriage.
But, if you're like me and a lot of moms I know, you're familiar with this feeling or some version of it. We all have our ways of dealing with it. Most aren't good (I'm not a fan of martyrdom or passive aggressiveness).
Am, I guilty of trying these methods in the past (and occasionally in the present)? Of course! But, neither solve anything and in the end usually make things worse for all parties involved.
This post is for all moms, but personally I have been juggling parenthood and career for almost 24 years (13 of those alone), and marriage for over 10. I have now been a Pandemic SAHM/WFHM for almost a year - while also being a homeschool teacher/learning coach. For a few months, after my (money making) business was forced to close, I also had a part time job that I did while my husband was temporarily working from home. The part time job is long gone, my husband has been back at the office for 7+ months now, and my plate is fuller than ever. My momming/caregiving cape is now officially threadbare! When the pandemic hit, our lives were sent into a tailspin. I instantly became a stay at home mom for the first time (other than a brief stink when my son was a baby). And, since I try not to do anything half-assed, I threw all of myself into my new “job”. I put my business (that didn’t close) on the back burner for the first half of the pandemic, started skipping showers, stopped wearing jeans, spent whole days cleaning the house/running errands, and questioned my life-purpose almost every day.
I told myself that this was necessary because my husband still had a "real" job he had to go to outside the home every day...and I was no longer contributing financially. But, that line of thinking isn't really "me" and it definitely does not work for my ME long term . I still have another business that needs love, and being a career/entrepreneur woman is part of my identity - a part I love.
I can't work on my career, take care of me, and do ALL of the household management, upkeep and caregiving! And, even if I didn't have another job (outside of momming). I still shouldn't have to do it ALL.
Just because my husband works outside of the home, doesn't mean that it's ok for him to come home and just "check out". Just because this new at-home-almost 24/7 life is stressful for my daughter, doesn't mean I have to over-compensate and do more for her. It's stressful for me too! Who's doing stuff for me???
...Now, before you come at my husband with pitchforks, I am actually quite lucky. He is an amazing supportive partner, an awesome involved dad, and although he seems overwhelmed right now - he's totally on board with the strike. We are both at fault for things getting to this point. Like I said before, I do enjoy taking care of him and my kids, for the most part...and not when it feels expected. But, I have a tendency to take on too much.
He's just as overwhelmed with the pandemic life as I am, so why wouldn't he just let me do it all, if it seemed I was handling it well??
Ladies, we have to speak up!!!
Pandemic aside, this is not the first time I've gotten to the "I can't do it anymore" point. We usually have some big discussion followed by a game plan that I create. For awhile he starts pitching in more - starts "encouraging" Daphne to pitch in more; but then we all fall back into our patterns. I'm hoping this strike will be the first step in stopping this cycle for good and will help my daughter to become more independent.
My hope is that we'll start to be more of a team rather than "them" and "me".
So, how does a mom strike work? Get a notebook and pencil....
For one week my family gets to learn how to take care of themselves (or in my husbands case, re-learn). He was single for a few years before we got married, and as far as I could tell, doing a good job of taking care of himself...although his vegetable consumption was next to nothing. The point is, he will survive. My daughter and son will be ok too - maybe even better off.
Ok, back to the "how".
Well first of all, you have to have a relationship with your spouse that is safe to even propose something like this. If you don't then, STOP right here, put that pencil down, and get you (or both of you to counseling). Your family issues go deeper, and starting with a strike could make things worse (for all of you).
Secondly, your kids have to be at an age where they can (somewhat) take care of themselves; or your spouse is able to completely take over what you were doing for them. My daughter is 9 1/2 and my son is almost 24.
Ok, now that everything's in order and you're ready to get that (virtual or real) sign put up...
1. Sit down and write a list of all the things you do for your family on a daily/weekly basis.
2. Then go through that list and circle/highlight all the things they can manage on their own.
3. Grab a piece of paper or poster board, big or small. I chose a bright pink piece of card stock paper....cause I didn't have energy to look for anything else.
4. At the top write: Mom's on Strike starting (date) through (date).
5. Then under the title is where you write your subtitle: This is what I will/won't do during this strike....
6. Write your list. Remember this is part is personal. You choose what will make you feel good, give you time to feel like you again, and work for your family situation. And, before you think about making the list small (unless it's something like, "I won't do anything for anyone but myself this week"), trust me when I say, they are more capable than you think. They will survive.
7. Call a family meeting and try not to laugh (evil laugh) at their facial expressions.
8. Then display your list in a prominent place. Be ready to direct them to it throughout the week.
I personally chose to list twenty things I WILL do this week. Such as...
·Clean up after myself (including dishes) ·Plan, prep and cook three dinners this week (I normally plan, prep and cook approximately eighty percent of EVERY meal) ·My personal laundry and shared laundry ·Refuse to help people find things unless I truly am the only one who knows where it is
·Ignore others messes and let them figure it out on their own
The list also includes taking my daughter to playdates, Dr. appointments, ect while my husband is at work (she's 9); make sure she takes her vitamins and eats at least one vegetable/day (it's only a week-she'll be ok). I will also help her with meal prep and cooking when needed for safety reasons. And, of course, I still have to be her learning coach for online school (my husband has a regular 9-5 and I don't think his boss would be ok with him taking a paid week off for a #momstrike).
I chose to keep grocery shopping on my list because I actually like doing it when I can do it alone. It's like a mini vacation (sad mom reality). So, I'll still do all the grocery shopping (in the evening ALL- BY - MYSELF). But, rather than listening to everyone's requests all week, and then trying to remember them; they're responsible for putting the items on the shopping list that I will then take with me. If they forget something, it's my husbands responsibility to worry about it.
In the words of Bob Marley, "Don't worry about a thing 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right".
We're not even through the first day and I'm already feeling more relaxed and creative. I mean, look at me - I'm sitting alone writing a blog, scheduling podcast releases, and planning my marketing strategies for HealingWaze. My husband is cooking dinner and my daughter is helping. The house is already a mess, but I prepared myself for this. It's only a week. We will all survive. And, in the end we'll all be better for it!