Q: I'm a working wife and mother with a preschooler and a couple of school-age kids who are also involved in lots of extracurricular activities. My family's schedule is so tight and there's so much to be done that I feel compelled to "work" all the time. How can I stop feeling guilty and resist the temptation to try to be Superwoman?
Jim: Let's face it. Nobody needs to be able to do it all. In fact, it seems prideful to suppose that we can. That approach to life produces unhealthy and destructive stress.
Our licensed counselors here at Focus on the Family have suggested a few strategies for minimizing strain:
-- Don't feel pressured to be productive every time you have a block of free time. For example, turn a preschooler's weekend naptime into "you" time and do something that makes you happy.
-- Involve older kids in family decision-making and household chores. Give them a chance to help you bear the burden.
-- Consider limiting after-school activities to one or two favorites. This can alleviate excessive running around, allowing more quality time for family togetherness.
-- Connect with other working moms. Share ideas, meal preparation, organizational tips and suggestions for fun things to do as a family. Save driving time by joining a carpool.
-- Be sure to regularly set aside time to connect with your spouse. Even if your marriage is solid, regular date nights will strengthen your bond and benefit your entire family.
When all is said and done, one of the best things you can do for yourself, your marriage and your entire household is to keep life simple. Make it your goal to breathe deeply, smell the flowers and enjoy everyday pleasures. And don't get down on yourself if you can't do it all -- nobody can.
Q: My husband travels all over the world for his job. I just can't help being really jealous that he gets to go to all these wonderful places and I don't. I've started to obsess to the point where my husband doesn't want to talk about his trips. How can I stop being so jealous and just be happy for him?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: It's easy to become jealous when someone else gets opportunities that we don't. This is definitely something you need to discuss together, but I think you need to deal with your own heart first.
It's important for you to identify what is really going on with you; in other words, what "hot buttons" are being pushed in your mind and heart? Beyond the feeling of jealousy, try to put a name on the deeper emotions involved, whether they are forgotten, unfair, unimportant, minimized, insignificant, etc. Honestly assess if -- and how -- this may be something that you've dealt with for a long time and in other situations.
Remember that your emotions are your issues. You need to be able to communicate to your husband that this is how you're feeling, but that you don't want him to shut down or stop sharing this part of his life.
You'll also want to get a better understanding of what you truly desire. Do you really just want to travel, or is it more a need to be acknowledged for doing your part on the team (managing the house, kids, etc.)? Maybe you could use more fun and adventure in your life. If so, you can strategize as a couple on how to make that happen and how he can include you -- for example, using some of his frequent flyer miles to go along occasionally. (Many companies allow a spouse to travel at least once a year.)
The goal is to find a win-win scenario, and you can hopefully do that by working through these considerations together.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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