If I do this then the family will suffer

There are few people who are given one role in life. Many people are both parent and spouse. Others have older dependants to support as well as one of both those roles. Then there is work to do or other income generating activities that need to be carried out. Not forgetting a home and garden to care for.

How can we do all we want to do and not neglect any of the things that we should be taking care of?

The issue here is prioritising and deciding what is important to us. We can spend every day every day at work if that is what is important to us or we can take a day off and go to a football match with our children on the weekend. The choice is ours.

No one wants to see spouses and children neglected or otherwise harmed but on the other hand, there are ways of going forwards that take a balanced approach. We may need to plan our time more carefully and set up systems at home so that others do their share of household duties.

Children can put their own toys and clothes away. Teenagers can do a variety of housekeeping or gardening tasks. Parents can share duties like ferrying children round to various activities or cooking. We can employ someone to do some tasks like cleaning or gardening. We can spend the money we earn on ready meals or eating out or buy a slow cooker and use that to maximum effect.

Planning is essential

This is where careful planning is necessary in order to achieve all the targets. We can plan our time so that we can do all that we really want to do. It may mean though that we will need to leave out some less important things.

One way of looking at this kind of planning is that it is like filling a jar with different sized stones. We could if we wanted try putting in all the stones at the same time but then we may find then that there is not enough room for the larger stones. If we put in the large stones first then fit the smaller stones around the larger stones then add the smallest stones so that they fit into the gaps we will be more likely to fit in all the stones. The large stones represent the important things that we really must do like spend time with our spouse or children. The smaller the stone the less important an activity it represents.

There are alternatives – if you look for them

One of the problems that we have is that home based responsibilities are not always valued. There was a time when a woman would give up her job shortly before she got married because it was so shameful for her husband not to be able to earn enough to support his wife.

These days a woman who stays at home to care for her family is seen as a shirking her responsibility to contribute to the family finances even if she has a husband who has a job and someone else has to care for their children. What is even stranger is that in the UK many people expect the government to help them pay for that child care in the form of working tax credit. 

There are people who have done their calculations and recognised that their family is better off having one parent at home. They realise that there are so many costs involved in them working that they are actually better off not working. If they were not working they would not spend as much on travelling expenses and on looking good enough to go to work. They also realise that not spending time earning money they have more time to do things that save money. So they have the time and energy to cook an evening meal rather than going out for a meal or having a takeaway.

There are also alternative ways of earning an income. It is quite possible to find a way to earn money using a computer at home. This could be by working for a college who needs tutors to help them run an online course.  Some people set up a home based business. Others use the time to practise selling things on auction sites like eBay or develop other skills that will help them when their presence at home is not so essential. This makes it possible to fit their income generating activities around the needs of their family.

Superwoman does not exist

Many years ago someone wrote a book called Superwoman. It was supposed to be a work of fiction yet many people took it absolutely seriously because it so clearly described what they were trying to do. Others look at the ideal wife described in Proverbs 31 and think ouch I cannot do that.

This biblical ideal of a wife described in Proverbs 31 woman was the description of what the wife of a wealthy man would be able to do. We do not know how many servants and helpers she had or indeed, whether she carried out all those tasks in the same month or even the same year. She is a picture of what a mother dreamed her daughter-in-law would be able to do. Whether her son managed to find such a woman is unclear. We only know what sort of wife his mother told him to look for.

Things don’t stay the same

Children grow up and become less dependent upon us. Parents grow older and can become more dependent on us before leaving us bereft and unable to work out what to do next. The issue is making the most of the situation that we find ourselves in. We may be able to build up an online business while the children are small and need us to be at home with them. We may be able to work part time to gain experience while they are at school. It is a question of finding something constructive that can be done in the circumstances that we find ourselves in.

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