Working on a quilt with my daughter Julianna
Years ago, I made a list of all my duties I was attempting to keep up with—which can be voluminous when you are a young mother! It looked something like this:
Nurse the baby
Wash the clothes
Keep the house clean
Do errands for Daddy
Take kids on field trips or outings
Play with the little ones
Do my church job
Take a child on a one-on-one date
Wash the dishes
Look pretty and fresh
Clean the bathrooms
Take kids to the park or playground
Read aloud to the kids
Bake homemade bread
Sew costumes or special clothes for the kids
Play games with the kids
Help kids have parties with their friends
Take walks with the kids
Make Daddy’s favorite meal
Mend the clothes
Go shopping for clothes
Teach kids homeschool
Go on a date with Daddy
Make a meal to take in to the sick
Read the scriptures with kids
Not overwork myself
Sit and talk with Daddy
Talk with kids one-on-one
Have other families over
Cook healthy food from scratch
Go to bed on time
Help Daddy make financial decisions
Drive kids to their activities
Teach a class for the kids and their friends
Make holidays special
Have dinner ready when Dad gets home
I planned a family night and passed out a copy to all the kids and Daddy too. I explained to them that there were just 24 hours in each day, and I did need to sleep and take a shower, read my scriptures, etc., so with the time I had to serve them, I asked what would they like me to do specifically. I asked every family member to rate my activities choosing their top 5 in order. I was working hard, but not sure that I was picking the things to do with my time that were most important to my family.
Wow, was this ever an eye-opener! I could hardly believe it when I read over each person’s paper. To one teenage son, having groceries in the house was top priority—I should have figured! To my growing-up girl, long talks were the most important thing I could do in her life. I had spent lots of time making healthy meals from scratch which took lots of time, and yet this didn’t rank on my husband’s priority list. He was happier just to have the dinner ready, than to have me spend a lot of time on it.
Of course, I have my own priorities, but it is very informative to know what my family members value. If I am going to serve them, I want to score!
Sometimes we think we are building a relationship, just to find out that what we are doing is not important (or is even annoying) to the other person. For example, my husband likes a clean kitchen so he does dishes. I am grateful, of course, but doing dishes is low priority for me. I’d rather he sat down and talked to me. Knowing what each other values helps tremendously!
As time changes, so do everyone’s priorities. My little ones wanted to go to the park—it was in their top 5—but those little ones are grown and not so excited to go to the park anymore. They’d rather go on a “walk-and-talk” with Mom.
I found out, by giving my kids this survey, that they often preferred my eye contact, my listening and talking time to all the running around and trying to make life happen. My individual time with them was the things they remembered most and cherished most. This was both a great relief and a guilt trip (that I hadn’t been more perceptive of their needs and had worn myself out doing not-so-important things).
What do your kids want Mommy to do?
What does Daddy want Mommy to do?
Ask them—you’ll be surprised!
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