I think we minimize those things we do at home and consider them unimportant. WHAT? WHY? Isn’t putting a nice meal together to nourish our family an act of love? Isn’t packing our son’s lunch or our husband’s an act of love. What about that pesky laundry that we wash, and fold just so and put away in our kids drawers? Maybe the problem isn’t in the doing but in the way we approach the things we do. Somehow along the way caring for others went from an honor, and important work to being minimized by so many today. We see it as the things we have to get done because it must be done.
But love is in the details. It’s not in the big things. Its in the work that goes into the finished task, job or project. Love is in the attitude and the remembrance that the work we do to care for someone or ourselves is important. Its some of the most important work we do. So how do we shift our thoughts to taking the extra time to care for our families, friends, and those around us?
One act out of love every day has enormous power. Maybe those small things you do seem monotonous or so ordinary that its nothing. We often forget if we do small things out of love consistently day after day we are sending an unspoken message to a loved one, friend, co-worker or our spouse or children.
If we put caring first and we remember that all those tasks are caring driven it helps to remember doing things for others or in our home are about the people in it. If we can just change our perspective and realize it’s always about the people not the tasks.
I have made an effort to start packing my husband’s lunch when I am getting dinner ready. I usually put a version of the meal we are having the night before in containers for him to grab in the morning. He works full-time and coaches three soccer teams. He has very little time and he gets up at 4:30am so once he is dressed he does not have time to put together a lunch, whereas, I have work from home for myself so I set my schedule. I do not have to do this, but he continues to tell me how good his lunch was and I know he is getting a decent meal during lunch. I do it because I know it makes a difference in his day. I know most of his days are hurried, busy, and often stressful. If I can allow him to take 15 minutes to eat and have a moment to breathe well then I succeeded in caring for him even when he is not home. I am by no means on it every day- I have not gotten to the point of making it every single day, sometimes I don’t get a lunch packed because there are so many things going on at home and meetings, and practices for the kids, but I have committed to trying to do this more and more. To spend an extra 5-10 minutes a night to better care for my husband. This is not to say you should do the same. This is to say find those little things you can do in your own life that you want to do to care for someone or yourself even more than you do. And this goes for the guys too. Just do the things you need to do with a joyful heart.
I attended a wedding a little over a year ago and the gift to guests was a tiffin box or bento box. In Mumbai 160,000 wives or mothers cook a hot lunch and put it in the container and delivery men called dabbawallahs deliver it to the husbands at work during lunch. The delivery boys have to take a train, and then bike to deliver the boxes and later pick them up and drop them off that same day. And they do this every single work day. Talk about the amount of caring that goes into delivering a hot meal to so many men. Talk about dedication to caring. Seriously- wowzer, wowie.
3 Ways I Am Working on a More Caring Attitude
1. Changing My Internal Dialogue
For me its gotta start with reminding myself that the things we do at home are important. Whether you work fulltime, part-time, work in the home or so many other scenarios. I have worked full time after having kids, I have worked part-time, and worked from home, and been self-employed- each comes with its challenges and benefits. We all get busy and often the things at home (dishes, laundry, etc) can feel overwhelming but what if instead we put more love into the things we did for those we love. If there are certain things you just despise maybe you can get someone to do them and focus on the rest, otherwise just get through it and move to the next thing. For me, I need to remind myself its about the people- doing and caring is about the people not about the thing.
2. Small Acts of Love Add Up to a Big Impact
Think about how special you feel when your spouse, or loved one does something nice for you, or does something necessary but it makes your day easier, or removes something off your ever growing to-do list. Well when we do the same for our kids or loved ones those little gestures make a big impact on them over time. Lets remember every little thing we do is whispering to them that we care, that we love them, that we are there for them. I want more of that- more of my kids and family knowing those things through my actions and my attitude. I should also say, I expect my kids and my husband to help out at home, and everyone contributes to helping out and chores are assigned. I absolutely think its important for my children to learn how to do things and to participate in keeping our house clean and tidy (or as tidy as it’s going to be). But for the things I do, I want to do it out of love and to remember I am doing it for them, especially when I don’t feel like doing another load of laundry or washing another dish. And yes I love it when my husband does an unexpected household chore before I get to it- such a nice act of love. I love making cookies for my kids when I can or serving them hot chocolate. It’s those little things that make my boys’ day feel a little more special or calm.
3. Add Some Fun to those Must Do Things
I find listening to music or singing helps the household tasks go more quickly and are more enjoyable. I also find if I set days and times to fit in doing everything around the house it does not take over my time at home and I move through everything more quickly- like vacuuming, laundry, folding, cleaning.
Remember, doing what is necessary with a grateful heart makes all the difference. The moments and the people in our lives are what matters most. Here’s to caring and loving more every day!