If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “I miss getting a real performance review and a raise!” These words are not spoken by the typical employee who dons a pinstripe suit every morning only to march off to the office; they are the frustrated words of stay at home moms and dads who desperately desire to be acknowledged for their “job”. Does it sound remotely familiar to hear emotionally bruising silence after a day of grocery shopping, cooking, baking and decorating cupcakes for the school party, cleaning, laundry, chauffeuring, making or cancelling appointments, paying the bills, running errands, juggling schedules, managing meltdowns, and well… you get the idea. Oh what music to your ears it would be to hear those two special words “thank you” that can convey both a glowing performance review and a day’s wages all wrapped up in one tidy little package. Of course, meaningful eye contact, a smile, or a hug that expresses heartfelt sincerity would be a welcome bonus. After all, your job makes a ginormous difference in the sanity of your spouse, and the cultivation of future world citizens. Are you getting enough “thank you” from your spouse or children for your 24/7 job?
If you feel a chilly void in the appreciation sector, do not feel alone. As I mentioned, this is rather a universal issue. In fairness, kids and spouses get wrapped up in their worlds, and because they know they can get away with it, sometimes… okay, frequently, they forget to thank the ones they love. It’s not that they mean to take advantage of you; it’s just that they know you will forgive them and love them despite their shortcoming. Okay so once again, you are nurturing and providing forgiveness and love without having your own needs met. What should you do?
No beating around the bush here, demand your thank you!! You darn well deserve it! Okay… demand might be a strong word so let’s change it. How about teach? How can you teach your family to appreciate your work and say thank you? Would it be a felony to point out that you went to three different art stores to acquire the correct supplies for your child’s project, or that you spent hours scouring the internet for the perfect gifts perfectly priced for your spouse’s office staff during their holiday party, which, by the way you are preparing a home made casserole for? Frankly, my darling, I think not! Letting your loved ones know that you did your job with devotion is no crime. By telling them that you would like for them to acknowledge your effort and deliver an occasional “thank you”, you are teaching them how to treat you. However, as with anything, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. This will require patience and a pleasant tone of voice. You will need to assess moods, receptiveness to teaching, the time of day and the setting. Your lessons will fall on deaf ears if you teach when a child is cranky or your spouse is exhausted. Think about how you would like someone to teach you and follow your own wish list.
Okay… we’re almost done here. The title of this blog is Two Words on a Two Way Street. We’ve covered the two words (thank you) and now we’ll spend a moment on the two way street. Yup! You guessed it! You too must remember to thank your spouse and kids. There is no better way to teach than by setting an example or practicing what you preach.
My son has a perturbing habit of leaving his drinking glass on the coffee table after he’s had an evening snack. Shocker that last week he actually remembered to take it to the dishwasher. In the morning, I made it a point to thank him and convey that simple things like him picking up after himself made my job easier. I gave him a big bear hug and enjoyed the win-win situation. The positive reinforcement he received makes it more likely that he will remember to continue taking his glass to the kitchen.
What about your spouse? What words of thanks and appreciation can you deliver so as to foster your relationship? What kind of reaction do you think you’ll get if you recognize their tedious work environment or hard work? Maybe you can comment on the positive roles they play with your children. You decide, but do try to convey sincere empathy. Don’t you want heartfelt understanding for your own role as a stay at home parent? My guess is that the more you convey thanks, the more you will receive it.
It’s November and we will all be thankful this month for many blessings in our lives. Let’s look closely at the ones we live with and go out of our way to thank them and teach them to be thankful too.
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