When your couple becomes a trio for the first time, things change quickly. Routines change. Your surroundings change. Your schedules change. Suddenly, one parent is thrust into a role that they didn’t realize came with that tiny, adorable human being. This role is deemed “family manager”. Somebody has to keep all your ducklings in a row. Someone needs to make sure each family member’s needs are met, appointments get scheduled, the household continues to run, and the baby stays alive. In my home, I’ve assumed this role. I think this role is often taken on by whomever is more instinctively inclined to take it on. Our brains are just better wired to worry about all of these things and see the bigger picture, while our partners are more inclined to focus on one thing at a time. Even if your partner is incredibly helpful, there’s still one of you that generally keeps the train moving.
I’ve studied various team dynamics and worked in a productive fashion in several different environments. What I’ve learned through my experiences, continual education, and observations is this: If you’re the manager, you have the power to set the tone for your family. Have you ever noticed that when you’re having a bad day, your kids seem to also be having a bad day? This trickle-down effect happens in professional environments and in basically any team environment. If the boss (coach, manager, leader) is cranky, the rest of the team tends to be as well.
Those in leadership roles have a very important job, and that can be extremely overwhelming. Some days it can feel like you’re constantly herding kittens. You try to control outcomes so that they are always favorable in all situations, but you can’t truly control another person. When you apply this to your family life, you realize that the trickle down effect is apparent in home life as much as it is in a professional environment.
What happens in business when you act more like a boss than a leader? If you have a sick day, take a vacation, or are unable to run your business, that sh*t goes off the rails! Your employees don’t generally feel empowered to make their own decisions and, therefore, have an extremely difficult time functioning without your input. The same can happen in your family. What is the result? The family manager (the boss) gets burnt out! You get no opportunity to recharge because your employees will not be able to function without you.
So, how do we avoid this burnout? How do we avoid having our family being stressed out about or afraid of us taking a day off every now and then? We act as a leader, not a boss. That’s how.
What does a leader do differently than a boss? What is the key thing that differentiates the two? A leader empowers others to make appropriate decisions based on core principles, values and common goals. The boss just tells people what to do and where to go as if they cannot think for themselves.
Being a leader is just as difficult, if not more so, than being a boss. It can appear so much easier to just direct people on exactly what to do because otherwise they might do the wrong thing. Being a boss seems easier in the short-term, but it limits growth. And in the words of William S Boroughs, “When you stop growing, you start dying.” I’m pretty sure no one wants that for their family. When you decide to lead instead of boss, you allow the growth of your family. You appreciate each other for the roles you play. You encourage your family members to make their own decisions and function under their own will to play their part in the day-to-day. Not only will your family members surprise you with their competence, they’ll help you feel better about needing a day off to recharge. Now, that’s a gift that just keeps on giving!
So, what can we do to achieve this? How do I lead instead of boss, Momma Capednerd? You follow these 5 tips, my friends:
1. Set Your Family Up For Success
The foundation of your family is a pretty important thing to get established. What do you want your family unit to look like? What kind of adults do you want to see your children become? How do you and your partner want to evolve with each other and grow as a couple? Envisioning all of this will be vital to setting yourself up for success. For example, if your mission is to have your children become adults that are responsible people who are generally organized and have their sh*t together, one thing you need to do is make sure that you are setting that example. Take pride in your surroundings and take care of your home. Stay on top of the important things. Connect with extended family in whatever ways feel most important to you. Prioritize the right things. Whether or not it gets acknowledged, your family sees you. They’re watching and learning from you. They’re following your lead, so make sure you are setting a good example.
2. Play To Individual Strengths
When you are evaluating the different things that need to happen in a household, roles need to get established. For example, when my husband and I first started living together, we needed to establish who was going to do what as far as cleaning in the household. My husband hated doing laundry but didn’t mind the dishes. I hated dishes but didn’t mind laundry. Naturally, those roles were established. The same general concept can happen as your family grows. Some of you are naturally going to be more organized than others. One of your kids may have an undiscovered talent of packing the trunk of the car like a freaking Tetris champion, no matter what the size and shape of the contents. Take what you know about your family and assign them roles based on their strengths and talents. These roles can always evolve and be adjusted as needed too as each individual grows.
3. Empower Each Other
Instead of looking for things to criticize about another’s work in the household, seek out the things to praise. It’s been scientifically proven several times that praise works better than punishment in keeping others engaged, satisfied, and working well in their role. I personally can be extremely critical of my husband. I definitely have a Type-A personality and need for control. For much of my life, I have preferred things in a certain way. However, growing my family has taught me to let that go a little bit. I have to make a conscious effort to look for the good instead of the bad sometimes. For instance, instead of “You’ve loaded the dishwasher wrong” while rearranging the dishes in there, I could remember to be grateful for the fact that my husband even loaded up the dishwasher and say “Thank you for doing the dishes, babe. I really appreciate it!” Just a simple thank you and acknowledgement can go a very long way in empowering someone to want to do more. When we feel appreciated, we want to continue to help in that capacity. It feels good to be recognized for your work.
4. Know Your Goals
Similar to needing a mission statement for your business, it can be a good idea to have one for your family. Teams work best when they’re working towards a common, clear goal. As a family, you need to come together to decide what you want to accomplish. A goal could be something like being the family that always hosts Christmas for the extended family. This is usually going to need to be a group effort every year and something that everyone contributes to in their own way. Your toddler might help you clean up. Or their role will be to go to daycare while you prepare your home – whatever their best strength is for this task. Proper delegation and the least possible micromanagement is the best way to get great results. Your family needs to be a cohesive, balanced, happy unit and you will all be able to enjoy life as you choose and generally have more good days than rough ones.
5. Allow Failure
When someone on the team is sick, on maternity leave, or is otherwise temporarily unable to perform their job, their co-workers need to step up and take care of the vital tasks while their team member is out. This needs to happen in families too. Sometimes, you’ll need the team to carry you. Other times, you’ll be carrying the team. It’s important to allow this to happen. You need to support one another in that way. Also, allowing failure in your daily tasks or for your children can help them to grow. Failure leads to growth. Instead of doing things for your kids, you should allow them try on their own and learn from mistakes. Empower them to think through how they could’ve done that differently to get a better outcome. Allow them to feel it when things don’t go perfectly. Be there to pick up the pieces, but let them explore their world in their own way so they can develop a sense of self and an ability to problem-solve and process. These are going to be vitally important as they grow, especially once they’re adults and you are no longer able to be in every moment of their day.
Leading instead of bossing is the best way to manage your family. Empowering your family members to take control of their own lives and roles ultimately takes so much stress off of the leader. Letting that go can help you see as others surpass your expectations and perhaps even do things better than you would be able to. Leadership will result in engaged, dedicated individuals showing up and doing their very best every single day. I think we all could agree that having your partner, child, or parent showing up as their best self every day can only create amazing results.
Ask yourself, are you a leader or a boss? Are you the family manager or is your partner? How can you empower your family to be the best version of themselves?
Much love and productive vibes,
Momma Caped Nerd ❤
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