Our family has been trapped in the narrow rigidity of an old-school employer. Under the weight of an obscenely long commute, long hours including weekends, and a structure that regards any kind flexibility as a sign of weakness (precluding our children from spending much time with their father), I chose to work from home whilst being the primary carer of our children. It is something I deeply value and (mostly) love.
The burden of frequently going solo with four small children has certainly had its moments. But my husband is one of those men who walks in the door after a hard day, sees what needs to be done and gets on with it. Dishes, the tail end of bath and bedtime rituals, household projects. You name it, he will take it on. Without being asked. I know.
Still, we have long imagined a future for our family that involved both spouses working flexibly, with an ebb and flow of truly shared parenting and operational management of our family and household. We have both taken turns as chief family breadwinner. We both understand the inner workings of our family systems. There isn’t much that would require a handover.
Or so I thought. A couple of months ago, our family began a period of reinvention. We are in the midst of a renewed phase of entrepreneurship. Mine. And his. Oy vay! There are still four small children (it’s not like you can hide them anywhere – there are FOUR of them!). I got my wish. All of it. It is scary sometimes. It is exhausting all the time. It is fun a lot of the time. And parts of it are harder than I expected.
We are navigating and negotiating in profound new ways our family culture or “the way we do things around here.” I am not used to being accountable for how my day runs or the decisions I make. He might be more used to it, but not to someone who doesn’t write his salary check! My co-worker is now my husband not just in our parenting, but in our household and our business ventures.
You Need This:
The governing values of who we are, what we are trying to create in our family, in our marriage and how we raise our children are more critical than ever. I have relied heavily on the vision we created together so many years ago to remind me what this is all for. It takes faith and courage and patience. Oh patience. It also takes more kindness than I expected.
Our family is focusing on demonstrating kindness to each other in this season of peace and joy. I have noticed that there are multiple opportunities each day for me to choose kindness or its opposite. It seems especially hard with my husband – remember him – the one I love more than life itself? Why is that?
All roads lead back to those governing values and creating a conscious culture. As I wrote recently in the Huffington Post for National Work and Family Month, culture is everything. It can arise organically. Or you can make decisions about what is most important and who you really want to be.
In the work life world, we typically discuss culture in the organizational context. Isn’t a family or a household just a very small organization? It is a phenomenal place to begin and the very best place to practice.
Get Your Own:
I will be leading She Negotiates Balance and Purpose for a six week telephone and on-line based program at She Negotiates University. I would be honored to have you join me as we get into the nitty gritty of conscious living. More information and registration here.
What culture are you creating? Even if you live alone, you are crafting an environment and a way things are done. What does that look like? Did you plan it or did it just happen?
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