My husband and I were getting ready for bed one evening and he said, “Once I take my shower, I will pack my bag.” We were traveling the next day to visit his family. As he stepped into the bathroom, my mind started fuming.
“So I got gifts, made the baby’s bag, replenished the diaper bag, picked out toys, packed my bag, did the laundry, and starting thinking of a pre-departure list so we won’t forget anything… and you just have to pack your bag and call it a night? Seriously?” I let anger hold my hand and then slowly slipped it away. I am loved, respected, and taken care of in my home. I don’t carry the burden of our house and family all by myself. It’s not that I don’t feel appreciated. My husband always tries to please me with little attentions and thoughtful gifts. For any days that include celebrating or gifting me, he goes all out and makes sure that I feel loved. He says “thank you” on the daily too. If I ask for help, he is there, ready to offer it. He is dedicated to us and provides for us. He also cooks, cleans, and takes care of the baby. I let go of my dark thoughts and realized that the true problem was that I don’t want to be responsible for any of it.
I don’t like housework. I don’t like to clean, pack up for the baby, or have to cook every (or other) day, multiple times a day. I don’t like to have to think about spring cleaning or plan for events. Nonetheless, I accept all of these and their relatives as my responsibility because I love my family. I want them to be prepared for seasons, be taken care of, and live in a lovely home. It is a lot to do, it can be overwhelming, and it can be very repetitive. I don’t want to spend most of my time running around doing errands. This is actually the main reason why I try to live a simple life. The less I have, the less I need to maintain. I want the freedom of an open Saturday morning instead of one full of chores.
My thought process led me to identify how to make things easier for me:
- Spread out the work over several days. Not leaving things for the last minute or the day before gives me a breather even when I have other unrelated things to do. A great example is our store-bought chicken. Whenever I buy chicken breast, I would split it as is into freezer bags. One day I decided to slice them before freezing them and it has made cooking them so much quicker, making us spend less time in the kitchen.
- Recognizing how much you can bear so you do not sign up for too much. I have spoken before on how I believed that taking it all was the ultimate sign of strength (see post here). I have long since understood and agreed that I am a limited human being, and even though I aim to keep growing (hence why this blog exists), I am careful when saying yes. You can see this in our front yard. I don’t like to garden so our yard is plain. As long as it’s clean, I am good. Yes, some flowers would look beautiful, but I don’t value them more than my free time.
- Identify what triggers the stress. Because I had been preparing for multiple days, my final item in the to-do list was to put it all in the diaper bag. This would have been easy if I had not picked various toys and snacks in an attempt to keep the baby happy during the ride. Her diaper bag was not budging. This is a very small thing, but schlepping an overflowing bag while handling a baby and our other carry-ons can very quickly make one sour. We moved things around and were able to fit all the toys and snacks nicely. Reducing the probability of frustration made me breathe a lot better.
- Meet your family half way. My husband loves to be around people and loves Christmas. He wants to share with others this special season. The thing is, December is such a packed month for us. We have events, parties, shopping, and family gatherings, plus our regular jobs. My husband wants a party that turns into the talk of the town, and that to me means a lot of delicious food. When we have such large events, we usually cater the food, but because I want everyone to be super satisfied, I stress out and object. Last year, my mother-in-law suggested a dessert party. Why hadn’t we thought about it? People can come in and out. We don’t have to feed them a meal. It ends up being more work because we have to make all the dishes but the expectation is way lower. I enjoy the baking and don’t have the pressure of having to fill up a crowd. My husband gets his party. Everyone is happy.
I promise that it all happened in my brain in the span of ten minutes. I was so grateful that I didn’t stay angry but came full circle. At the end of it, I told my husband that I needed him to listen only and he very kindly did. When I was done with my monologue, he told me because he knew that I would appreciate the honesty, I had to suck it up. I laughed out loud because he was right.
Remember, it is not worth it to feel overwhelmed or resentful towards your family. We all have limited time and resources. Simplify your life by removing anything that does not add value so you can have plenty of time for those things that do.