“To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify…divide the work and delegate responsibility. There is a difference between being responsible for getting the work done and doing the work yourself.”
–M. Russel Ballard, “O BeWise”
By Horia Varlan, http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4056/4477808551_18e0931726.jpg
My father-in-law recently sold his software business. While succeeding as a small business certainly involved a lot of hard work on his part, can you imagine how things would have run if he’d tried to complete every little task on his own? Or if he’d made the work harder for himself by embellishing where he actually needed to simplify? Fussing over dust on his office bookshelves when his time was already filled with test runs and conference calls? Even if he managed to finish it all on his own, he would be stressed beyond belief. He would have no time to relax or blow off steam, and eventually the quality of his work might suffer. His relationships with family and friends might suffer too. I’m sure it’s fair to say he would shortly hate his job, and possibly come to resent whatever he felt was keeping him there.
Good thing he’s such a smart guy! He knew he shouldn’t try to see to every little task himself. He delegated the appropriate job to different employees, and together they worked to make the business a good one.
You’ve all guessed where I’m going with this.
As Mom, you’re in charge of making sure everything gets done. But you can’t be in charge of doing it all.
A perfume commercial from the late 70’s says it best:
The guy who said the quote I started with is one of the head-honcho-type people in charge of the Mormon church. Ordinarily I like to keep things non-denominational, but this sermon he gave on doing church service and assignments (or fulfilling a calling, in Mormonspeak) is so perfect for this subject that I couldn’t pass it up.
“Occasionally we find some who become so energetic in their…service that their lives become unbalanced…They complicate their service with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time…and sap too much energy. They refuse to delegate or to allow others to grow in their respective responsibilities.”
Needless frills and embellishments get their own post later. For now we’re going to focus on this idea that you can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan. Of course you can. You are a very capable person. But barring extreme circumstances with very young children, you should not even be thinking about trying to do all of that yourself. It will make you crazy and unhappy. It will keep other members of your family from growing in their respective responsibilities. Think of the teenager who moves off to college and has never shopped for groceries, learned to plan menus, done their own laundry, learned to keep their own room clean. Their mother has been doing those things for them all their lives, and she has not done them any favors.
Think of a sitcom dad who sets the kitchen on fire trying to heat frozen pizza in the oven.
Or this poor guy:
Whose wife, by the way, sounds like she’s pretty bitter about having to change that kid’s diaper herself so much, and should be DELEGATING this sort of thing to him more often, since he’s obviously not taking the initiative to learn himself.
Bacon-earning and bacon-frying, feeding the kids, and hanging that wash out to dry must be balanced between spouses, and delegated to children where appropriate. Family, friends, neighbors, and even paid childcare may also be needed, especially if you’re a single mom. If you’re not willing to delegate for your own sake, do it for your children and the sake of their future family lives. Remember, children learn what they see. Not only do they need to learn how to do basic things like keep up with their own laundry, but they need to learn to be a happy parent with a balanced life. By delegating, you can teach them by example now so they won’t have to learn the hard way later.