IF I DON'T DO IT, IT DOESN'T GET DONE!

How many times have I heard that from friends or clients who have become overwhelmed by the list of jobs on their ‘to do’ list. How many times did I, as a wife and mother, at work, as a charity worker think this, mumble this or actually say it out loud to anyone who would take the time to listen? I, probably like you, have done so more times than I care to remember.

FRUSTRATION RULES OK!

It is frustrating when you feel that others don’t pull their weight. This frustration can move on to become anger and also lead to difficulties in families, relationships, friendships, teams. Are you expected to be superman or super woman whilst others seemingly do not pull their weight, or dip out completely on ‘doing’?

HOW CAN THIS APPLY TO SPECIFIC PEOPLE/GROUPS OF PEOPLE?

The Perfectionist

There are those of us who believe that any task will not be done by others to our levels of achievement and satisfaction. There may be several outcomes –

The task may be only partially completed by the non-perfectionist, often having been put off for some time. Procrastination can go on to become hopeful avoidance if the perfectionist gets fed up of waiting and does the task themselves.

The end result may not be ‘satisfactory’, definitely not meeting the standards which we presume are etched into the psyche of the perfectionist.

Maybe any delay is built in as there is an expectation on behalf of the doer that they will be criticised, put down for what or how they have done, even though it has been done to a standard which satisfies them.

Time for a chat, but certainly not a nag. The fact that we are all different makes the world a more interesting place. Don’t let those differences convert from molehills to mountains. Sometimes, perfectionists, in order to have a happy, healthy relationship need to employ the art of compromise and flexibility; it may be necessary to lower those standards of yours. They aren’t written in stone, and they may not always be best for your relationship.

The New Mum

New mums can often feel overwhelmed by the tasks that they feel have to be done following the birth of their baby, especially if having to nurture and care for older siblings. Mums carry with them the picture of the perfect mum who has a home fit for the Queen to pop in at any time, a baby who is fed, contented and never crying, a partner who simply does what has to be done without even a request, supportive but not ‘overtaking’ friends and family who step in at just the right moment, doing just what is best for the whole family. For the majority of us, life isn’t like this, but still the adverts and magazines feature that happy smiling mum and baby in that impeccable house.

This is a topic about which I feel strongly, so will be taking on to my blog/podcast post in a couple of weeks’ time.

The parent of teenagers

How many of us who are bringing, or have brought up teenagers fall foul to the feeling of being unable to get your teen to toe your line as far as joining in with tasks is concerned? There are occasions when even the most simple asks seemingly come across as so demanding that they are met by a shrug, a yeh, yeh, or a why me – plus many variations of these responses, depending on time of day, and probably what they are hoping you will be going to do for them.

As a teenager, my son was lovely but could be a lazy oik. We had regular ‘discussions around his laundry’. I refused to go round his bedroom trying to isolate just what had decided to reside on his floor rather than make it round to the laundry baske; and what was simply residing there rather than being hung in his wardrobe. Silly me for expecting that to happen. It was only when he chose to wear a pair of trousers that lay beneath a couple of days of accumulated piling that I stood a chance – albeit a very temporary one - of getting my message across as it then transferred from being MY problem to being his. Having said this, he was perfectly capable of ironing his own trousers, having been taught to do so, and this was usually pointed out to him with a reminder of where the iron and ironing board resided.

What REALLY bugged me was that I had spent time ironing and stacking the immaculate results according to owner. His pile, which always seemed to be taller than anyone else’s was carried up the two flights of stairs to his room and carefully placed on his chair with the request that they were put away …. please. Despite my very polite request, I knew that by the following day, his once neat and tidy pile of freshly washed and ironed clothes would be a part of the jumbled mess on his floor. I had tried reasoning, explaining that I had MUCH better things to do with my time than iron his things, to no avail. I could have sent him to school in dirty, or un-pressed uniform, but that didn’t sit easily with me. His school would not have been impressed and I certainly didn’t want them to think that he had a mother who didn’t care.

So, plan B hove into sight. It was a lovely day, and said son was sitting in the garden with a group of friends – both male and female. I went up to his room, flung open the window and, taking care not to include any of the electronics or schoolwork which were also adding to the pile, threw them out of the window by the handfuls. His boxers fluttered down – both the clean and the dirty ones. Shirts billowed in the sun as they floated into the pond along with a trainer. Socks, well they went everywhere as there were so many of them. I shut my ears to the bellows from my son and the giggles from the girls as I shut the window and made my way back downstairs.

Needless to say, the next day, his floor was clear and I could vac without fear of a sock jamming the brushes. Sadly, it wasn’t too long before old habits returned, but I always held the threat of a repeat performance as my ultimate deterrent.

Part of a working ‘team’

How well I remember, at a charity I used to work for (officially as a counsellor, but in fact as someone who would do anything that needed to be done), the feeling of total annoyance at often getting the impression that others didn’t pull their weight. Thank goodness there were those few who did, to partially counterbalance the annoyance caused by the others.

I was involved one sunny day in demolishing a huge old sofa, between seeing clients. It was dragged outside and I attacked it with the few tools available to me – scissors, screw driver, hammer and lump hammer. It was a sturdy old sofa so fought valiantly against my onslaught. Resistance was futile though as I was woman on a mission to get the sofa into small enough pieces to fit into my car to be taken to the tip. The comments from passing drivers, notably those driving white vans, added to my levels of frustration, but onwards and upwards.

Then, another counsellor arrived. She was young enough to be my daughter. As she squeezed past me and the sofa she commented that the task looked like hard work. No ******* kidding! She too had a wait for her client, so made herself a cup of tea and came out to lean against the window ledge to watch me, not even bringing a cuppa for me! I guess my pride prevented me from asking her to help, or offering her a tool with which to do so. At the very least, she could have jammed the pile of fabric and foam into the bags waiting for filling. No. Nada. Nothing.

I tackled her about this later – pointing out the age difference, the fact that I too was a volunteer just as she was. I received a sweet smile in return and was told that I should have asked her – as she is called a princess at home as she never sees things that need doing. For goodness sake she had had to almost climb over the sofa to get in the door. Was this an immature teenager, no, rather a wife and a mother. Maybe because I have always been a ‘doer’, I found this so hard to swallow, especially from a supposed team member, definitely NOT a team player.

I probably went into martyr mode led there by my anger. I didn’t let it linger, as it achieves nothing. I guess this is what happens to many of us if we feel that we are left to do the lion’s share of a task-in-hand, of daily chores, whatever. Does it gain anything apart from a feeling of self-pity, the poor me attitude? No.

ARE YOU YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY?

By clicking into this martyr mode, we are becoming our own worst enemy. We see ourselves as the one who is lumbered with ‘everything’ whilst the other person ‘gets away with never doing anything’. It can so easily become generalised, catastrophized in this way, leading to disgruntled complaints from both sides – questions of ‘Why should I do EVERYTHING’; ‘Why is your way always the RIGHT way, the way that things have to be done?’; ‘Why is my way not good enough – it always has been for me?’ and on and on.

If we have just begun a new relationship, just got married, moved in with friends at uni or any similar scenario, it is so easy to slip into martyr mode, to feel put upon and used. It usually comes down to opening a meaningful dialogue and accepting that you don’t always get everything right, even though in this case you are convinced that you are spot on. Sod’s law that is just what the other person is thinking too. Seek to make adjustments, hopefully by both parties, to enable a compromise to be reached. Things may not be just as you have always done, as your mother always did. So put a spin on the outcome and see it, rather than a lowering of standards, as a change in them … and breathe.

Most importantly, don’t sweat the small stuff.  There will almost certainly be times when the small stuff is important, but in most cases, with that breath, you can, in order to maintain a healthy co-existence, choose not make an issue in order for life to move on. If you believe it is impossible for you to do so – discuss and adjust – or if you feel you cannot possibly budge your standards, do the job/task/whatever yourself, but don’t make a huge issue of it as you made that decision. The on-going art of compromise is important in any relationship, though this should not become a one-way street. That street leads to disappointment, anger, so put on the brakes before you reach the point at which you cannot do so, and discuss what is happening. Life is about change.

THERE WILL BE TIMES WHEN YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING

I have to admit that this happens to me. As an older woman living on her own, who always used to be able to tackle large and small jobs, I can find it hard to ask for help. Maybe that martyr in me again? I guess I see it as an acknowledgement of the extra candles on my cake and so I either get on with it, pay someone to help, or ask for help from friends. My choices, so no point in moaning if I struggle through taking option one. I’m an adult and as such have to accept responsibility for my choices and drop any tendencies towards martyrdom!

Life is about three c’s – change …. choices …. compromise.

To successfully handle these it is good to recall another three c’s  – calmness …. confidence …. control. Check out a download to support you with these if something you feel is difficult for you.

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