Joyfully Rejoycing proudly created with Wix.com

© 2019 by Joyce Fetteroll

There are just things we have to do in life

i've tried explaining to him that i often don't want to go either, but it is a necessary outing.

 

I've used that reasoning too. But now it doesn't make much sense. It sounds like there's some outside power forcing you to do something you don't want to do. From his point of view you're lying. He knows you could choose not go if you really wanted to.

 

You're saying in essence "I have to do this even though I don't want to, so you have to do this even though you don't want to." It's like you're passing on the punishment that you're getting onto him. "I'm suffering so you should suffer too."

 

From your point of view the appointments aren't that big of a deal. You grit your teeth. You do it. They're over and done with.

 

But look at the appointments as though it were your husband dragging you around all day doing pointless boring things. And you couldn't take along the book you would love to stay home and finish. You just had to stick by his side, not touch things and not talk much.

 

How would you want him to treat you if for some reason this was a necessity? Wouldn't you want him to say he's really, really sorry he has to put you through this? You wouldn't want his apology followed by a BUT (which essentially negates the sympathy and says "Tough about your feelings.") You'd want his apology to be sincere. You'd want to feel like he really was in a bind and would never do this to you unless it was absolutely necessary.

 

Telling you sincerely how important to him this thing he needed to do was would be helpful. But it shouldn't be said in a way that he expected you to understand and stop being so whiny about being bored. It's just an explanation on why it's important to him, not why it should be important to you too. He should accept that it isn't important to you.

 

(If he did drag you around often, you'd start to wonder how much effort he was putting into other options! So that's something to think about. If you tell us about the appointments, maybe we can brainstorm some ways that don't involve him.)

 

Wouldn't you want your husband to do something really nice for you when it was all done to show that he appreciated the fact that he couldn't see a way to get what he needed without torturing you?

 

He really is a smart kid, that sometimes scares me!!!

 

That's because kids see the world as it is, not through the lens of a million "that's just the way life is."

 

For instance it feels right to adults to have all the toys put away. But to kids it doesn't make sense. It makes a lot more sense if toys are out where kids can see them and grab them.

 

It doesn't make sense to spend a huge amount of time cooking and eating dinner when a handful of crackers and a scoop of peanut butter will get you back to playing a whole lot faster.

 

If we can eliminate the voices that say we "have to" and see the world in terms of what we want to do, then we can see it more as children do. We don't have to cook dinner. We could have peanut butter. We could order out. We could make a month of meals on one day of the month. We could buy prepared food. All those have consequences that maybe aren't worth it so we tend to dismiss them. But they are options we could choose. And when we see that we do have options, then we realize that we are cooking dinner because we want to -- because it makes someone happy, because it's cheaper, because it's healthier, because it has the foods we like, because we enjoy the process of cooking or whatever the reasons.

 

We don't have to take out the trash. But we do it because we don't like the consequences. We don't have to pay our taxes. But we do it because the alternatives aren't appealing. We don't have to feed our kids but we even more don't want them to starve. We don't have to do laundry, but we don't like the idea of only having dirty clothes to wear, dirty sheets to sleep on, dirty towels to use. We don't have to scrub the toilet. But we do it because we prefer it to be clean over disgusting.

 

There are very few have tos in life. (Maybe none!) There are only choices. Some of the choices are way better than others, but they are choices. And once we recognize that our life is full of choices rather than have tos, then it's a lot easier to do them. I even find myself cleaning the toilet more often now that I've given myself permission not to. It was that nagging "have to" and "supposed to" voice that made me want to rebel. I don't necessarily like cleaning it, but it's easier to focus on the fact that it's reached the point where it's dirtier than I like and that I have the power to clean it if want to -- and I even have the choice not to!

 

I think it's hard sometimes though to know exactly what I have to do.

 

Don't think in terms of "have to". Think in terms of want to.

 

You know, I think a lot of people have an authority figure voice in their heads who tells them what they have to do and won't let them not do it. [Sandra Dodd later pointed out that Freud called this the Superego. It's a subconscious collection of rules we've cobbled together about how the world works and a list of what is right and what is wrong. Things like: Don't be loud when people are sleeping. Learning needs to be systematic. Wait until someone's done before speaking. Pick up your child when he cries because he needs comfort. Don't pick up your child when he cries because it will spoil him. Toilets need scrubbed once a week.]

 

Get rid of the voice. There's no one there to make you do anything you don't want to do. Give yourself permission to not do chores.

 

By making that mental shift it frees you to do the things you want to do. To which some people will then say "Yeah, right. If I only do what I want then I'll do nothing but read, watch TV and waste time on the computer. And we'll live in a pig sty and we'll eventually starve."

 

Does anyone want to starve? Does anyone want to live in a pig sty? Well if they do, then they wouldn't respond to the suggestion to do what they want with sarcasm. They'd be responding with joy ;-)

 

The only reason that response seems to make sense is because we assume we're only doing chores because that voice in our head makes us. We assume if we get rid of the voice we won't do the chores.

 

But that's not true. If we give ourselves permission to not do chores, we'll find we really do chores because the consequences of not doing them are worse than the consequences of doing them. And we may even find, if we get rid of the voice, that we can do chores because we appreciate what they accomplish. And maybe even get to the point where we can appreciate the process of accomplishing something.

 

If you give yourself permission to only do what you want, then you can clean so you don't live in a pig sty not because you have to. You can find ways to eat because you don't want to starve. Even better is to cook because you want to enjoy the process of cooking, try out new recipes, do something with your kids, or do something that you know will make someone smile.

 

You can scrub the toilet when you notice it's dirtier than you like it to be. You can wash the dishes because you'd like to have clean plates. You can wash the sheets because you'd like to have the feeling of clean sheets.

 

So if you think of chores in terms of something you want to do, something that's important for you, like reading a book, you can in all honesty say "I'd like to have some clean dishes for the morning so I want to get that done before I go to bed," just as you might say "I'd like to have some time to watch my favorite show." And just with watching the favorite show, we have options. We could skip it. We could tape it (which can cut down the time it takes to watch it). We could offer to do the game after the show. Unlike reading a book where the purpose is to enjoy the time doing it so we don't want it speeded up with "help" ;-), with chores it's often the end product we want so help can shorten the time it takes to get there and free us up for other things. (Though sometimes people appreciate the time alone to think that a job (like washing the dishes) provides for them.)

 

(A little off the topic of "have to" but still on the topic of making chores less of a chore ;-) is finding ways to enjoy what we're doing. If we're folding a child's clothes it can give us the opportunity to think about how great the opportunity is to have the clothes and the child to fold them for. We can appreciate the fresh smell. We can think about special meals that we've cooked in a pan. It sounds sort of like the advice given to 50's housewives to make them happy sappy home makers ;-) But if there's a path we need to walk to get to where we want to go, we can walk it with resentment or we can find a way to appreciate the journey.)

 

Another thing with "have to" is that it often prevents us from seeing new ways to accomplish something. If we see a tub full of dishes as an inevitable consequence of cooking and eating, then it doesn't occur to us to rethink the problem. But someone here said they only kept available enough plates for a meal. That way they never had more than a few dishes to wash. Most of us probably have too many clothes in circulation. If there aren't as many clothes then laundry will be done more often but the sorting and folding and returning won't be a huge chore.

 

(Those are just "out of the box" ways of viewing a couple of chores not intended as suggestions for anyone to adopt.)

 

I don't know if that really answered your question. Having a rule would be a lot simpler! Explaining and getting a new philosophy is a lot harder but more flexible and more rewarding.

 

 

Believe me, my standards are pretty low! I already do the bare minimum. There is, I think, a certain amount of "have to" involved in housework. e.g. the dishes have to get washed at night or we'll wake up with a sinkful of three inch cockroaches. The laundry has to get done at least every couple of days or we'll run out of underwear and socks. the toys have to get at least partly put away or we won't have any space to eat dinner.

 

And it helps not to see it as "have to" because really and truly you don't have to. What you're doing is choosing something you don't like over something you don't like even more. Most people categorize a choice they'd never take as the same as no choice but it isn't. When we feel like we don't have a choice, then we feel trapped. When we recognize the choices we do have, then we can often become more creative.

 

I liked someone's idea of having just the dishes for a single meal that way there's never a lot to do and it's simple to wash a handful of dishes. And you'll find you'll accept lower standards. Rather than doing a formal wash with a tub of hot water, you'll find a touch of soap and a quick rinse are good enough. Or fill up the dishpan at the beginning of the meal and make it a habit of cleaning up right after. Maybe he can have a tub too to do his own dishes. As long as you still own the task and just are inviting him to share some time with you, maybe sing songs, tell stories, tell him about when he was a "baby" ;-), he'll want to join you fairly often. (Except when he has important 3 yo business to attend to :-)

 

I'm assuming the washer and dryer are out of the apartment, like in the basement? Which obviously makes it a larger task. Perhaps separating the laundry would help so that essentials are in one laundry bin and others that can wait are in another. It might also help to have a different bin for each person so that separating after washing doesn't take as long.

 

For the toys, maybe a rolling bin and just playing with them on a large cloth that can be picked up and poured into the bin and the bin rolled out of the way.

 

If you're trapped by have tos then there are no other solutions. If you recognize that there are other solutions then you can free up your thinking to allow them to come.

 

Sometimes life hands you things that you 1) don't like 2) aren't any good at and 3) find extremely stressing, boring, and futile ... but you HAVE TO DO IT ANYWAY.

 

Who's making you do something you don't want to?

You.

 

Mind you, I don't believe that children should have a steady diet of this kind of thing, but isn't there some value in giving the kids things to do, that they don't want to do? Doesn't it build character or something?

 

Who'd be making the kids do something they don't want to?

 

Someone else.

 

As Pam pointed out, when we're faced with something we don't want to do, we can seize that opportunity to brainstorm other solutions.

 

And look at it this way: you can (choose to :-) continue to see things that you "have to" do. But what advantage does it give you? Does that view point make it easier to do the"have tos'? Does it improve your relationship with members of your family?

 

But if you see everything you do as a choice, even things you'd never question like taking care of your kids, and you know you could choose not to do them but you choose to do them anyway, you're in a better, more peaceful mental place. It's the same for unschooled kids who choose to go to school. Unschooled kids in school may look like all the other kids in school but knowing you can get up and walk out and never come back is the polar opposite from sitting there day after day knowing you have no choice.

 

 

Joyfully Rejoycing