Harmony at Home and Work - Living with respect fun and connection
Harmony at Home and Work –
Being together with teenagers and adults with respect, fun and connection
Do you crave greater harmony in your household or workplace? As I said last week no matter what situation we may find ourselves in, we all want to create an atmosphere of peace, respect and cooperation. Being mindful of living with respect, kindness and consideration of others and ourselves is the key to harmony at home and at work too, however we often do not know how to do this. I know I am still learning.
As I also said last week, I am not a psychologist or parenting expert. I am a mother of 4 adult children, 3 of whom are living at home. This seems to have happened so quickly and I have found it useful to continue to reflect on how we can do our best to live together with respect and cooperation with our changing circumstances. When our daughter was undertaking year 12 last year I tended not to demand too much of her. However maybe I needed not to be so ‘protective’. That has changed now and the expectation is that she contributes to our household by taking responsibility for her own washing, shares cooking, tidying etc. We are in the adjustment phase and it is tricky as we negotiate what it means to be interdependent and be respectful of others.
While it can be tricky when we feel that others restrict or control our ‘freedom to do what we want’ it is important that we respect ourselves and others we live or work with by cleaning up after ourselves, putting in and contributing to the running of the household or workplace and letting others know if we are not going to be at work or home for meals or the night. When we fail to show respect to others or to honour the commitments we make to them and let them down we end up destroying our own peace of mind and create the causes to feel disrespected, let down and unhappy ourselves. I know I always feel lousy when I have been disrespectful or not done what I said I would do, no matter how much I try to fool myself it doesn’t matter. It is important we assess our resources before we commit to undertake a particular task. However once we have said we will put away our dishes, meet that person for coffee, be home for dinner, do that task or whatever it is, it is important to follow through. We all have times when something unavoidable happens and we can’t fulfill that commitment but most of the time, in my case anyway, it is my distractibility, ignorance or selfishness that prevents me from following through.
I have found it useful to reflect on some, often unconscious, unhelpful habits I have developed along the parenting path as I skip and trip along. Some of you may be able to relate to these, others of you not. I am sharing my experience because it may be of benefit to you and it certainly helps me contemplate and hear myself say such things
Why it is not useful to revisit unhelpful habits in order to bash myself up for my ‘so-called’ parenting mistakes, it is helpful to learn from these situations and to think about how to move forward. Becoming more mindful, receiving some wise advice and doing my best to put it into practice has helped me be able to reflect on some unhelpful habits and change these for more helpful ways to think for a happier me and more harmony at home.
Reflection on some unhelpful habits
The need to be needed
For me, I think that sometimes I was reluctant to let go of my control of household tasks because of a ‘need to be needed’. Often I did not give others the chance to be involved in these tasks because I felt the need to be indispensible and the super efficient mum who had everything ship shape. I think this encouraged dependence, laziness and did not always allow my family the freedom to give things a go. I plan to explore this in a future blogs - 'My Signature Dish'.
Setting high standards and expectations that are not realistic
Sometimes I did not communicate so well with my family, and at times set unrealistic demands regarding what needed to be done or by when. I would catch myself barking instructions from the end of the house expecting them to be heard and performed straight away. At times my unwillingness to accept that these tasks may not have been done to my ‘standards’ saw me taking over with an exasperated “I may as well do it myself”. So often instead of asking for help I would 'huff and puff' and do it myself with the burning smell of martyr lingering in the air. I was interested to read recently that a martyr is person who pretends to suffer or who exaggerates suffering in order to get praise or sympathy. It is so good to be aware of this unhelpful habit, which erodes peace of mind. I plan to explore this further in a future blog 'Slapdash Socks'. It may have been more helpful to be patient; appreciative and encouraging of efforts made with kind face to face reminders and appropriate consequences that were followed through. And to ask for help!! Please.
I remember sitting down with my older teenage children a few years ago and apologizing for 'over-parenting' them. I felt my over-parenting behaviour related to ‘needing to be needed’ and high standards, had contributed to a lack of opportunities for us all to be involved in the running of our household. This approach with me taking some responsibility for the lack of cooperation, instead of my usual blame game, seemed to promote more peace and working together. We now share cooking, each do our own laundry and tidy up after ourselves. As I look around the house I am reminded this is a work in progress and we all have a way to go as I learn to loosen of the control at home and share responsibility while at the same time remind my family to be respectful of our home and standards.
Not following through
I now understand the importance of following through on what I say I will do. This also includes following through with logical consequences, as I mentioned last week.
The need for approval
Often we go looking for approval in things outside of us. We look for others’ approval of us as a good parent, cook, employee, partner, or person. I would go looking for the family’s approval and appreciation regarding how I was doing with the cooking, and parenting in general. It is exhausting to be constantly looking for this approval and appreciation from outside of ourselves. I did a cooking experiment over a month once where I did my best to make healthy meals and tried to let go of the expectation of the family approving of them. I will write this up as a future blog post “The Cooking Without Expectation Experiment”. The truth is that we need to give this approval to ourselves. We cannot get it from others until we are able to give it to ourselves. Some things that have helped me remember this and to approve of myself are
In last week’s blog post http://www.pom-melbourne.com/blog/harmony-at-home-living-with-young-children related to younger children I explored the importance of setting boundaries, clear realistic expectations and logical consequences, which are followed through. And also the importance of being aware to avoid materially and emotionally indulging our children to prevent that unhelpful habit of a “sense of entitlement”.
It is tricky sometimes because as parents, even of older children, we are reluctant to enforce restrictions and are tempted to give them what they want to keep them happy. This tendency to want to have their approval or be their friends may not be appropriate, respectful to ourselves or helpful to them.
I was reminded of this recently when a friend of mine mentioned to me about her adult child who had come to live at home after some time living in a share house. Her child had commented how easy it was to slip back into habits of just leaving their stuff around, and not tidying up or offering to help around the house while back at home. While they felt they had learnt to be more respectful and cooperative in the group home they felt it was ok to be lazy around the family home. While it may seem easier as parents to let this go, to not upset the situation and 'keep them happy' and to have them 'approve' of us it is certainly not helpful for them or us. Strong love is required to kindly say something to show respect for ourselves as parents and also to allow them to not harm their peace of mind by being disrespectful. It may be that tricky conversation we need to have. It is important to live with respect and consideration of others no matter who they are. Being grateful and respectful is important for our happiness and peace of mind. For me it is helpful to remind myself and my family to be respectful of our home and each other without nagging. Quite tricky, but well worth it.
As a parent of teenage children and young adults some things I have found useful include;
The bottom line is to treat others as you wish them to treat you. Being responsible to show respect and kindness toward others and ourselves is fun and makes for harmony and peace at home and at work.
I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow through all the challenges and rewards that parenting and living and working with others brings. Like us all I have done my best with what I knew at the time and have made lots of mistakes along the way. I am continuing to learn and grow from these so-called mistakes and to do my best to live with respect, fun and connection. I am grateful to you for the opportunity to share what I have found useful. I sincerely hope you find something of benefit to create more harmony and peace of mind at home and work.
Why not explore doing the ‘Worry to Wonder’ 4 week course to develop a mindfulness meditation practice and get some tools for more harmony at work or at home and a happier, more confident, peaceful you and your family? To find out more about POM You can sign up for a free 30-minute phone consultation, below
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