Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On the art of delegation

I think I'm finally getting to grips with this.

If I say to my teens, as I feel like saying: "Aaaaaaaargh I've got a house to redecorate in order to sell it and I feel like I'm doing it all on my own because probably none of you will ever want to help me.." they do nothing. Duh. No surprise there.

But if I say: "Here's a paintbrush. Can you paint that please?"

They say: "Oh! Ok." and do it. And quite often, as today, they say: "I'm glad you asked me to do this - I like painting."

Yes, it's taken me 40 years, but I might be finally learning how to live with other people.


Blogger Gill said...

Humph. A lot of 'finaly's in this blog.

January 23, 2008 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Pete said...

That's because the first version is passive aggression (as in the PA Xmas song, "You better watch out, I'm gonna cry, I'm gonna pout, You work out why").

Reminds me of one of my earliest conversations with my DS:

Me: "how about we get ready to go to playschool?"
DS (age 3): "how about... not."

I'm trying to stop my partner asking me if I'd like to do the washing up, ironing, etc. Because, no, I'd rather keep reading my book thanks. Now, if you ask me to do the ironing, washing up, etc, yes, of course I'll DO it, but don;t ask my opinion of doing it compared to sitting on my behind playing Mario..

January 24, 2008 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Gill said...

Oooh. I sometimes ask them if they want to do such-and-such because I genuinely want to know. If the answer is 'no' then I'd sometimes rather do it myself than coerce them. Not always, but sometimes!

I've actually been getting complaints around here recently about my 'bloody-minded independence' as they call it - on a good day. Zara told me it's my responsibility to make sure they don't all grow up to be lazy bums! I don't agree with that though. A mother can only do so much and I don't like nagging, bribing or blackmailing.

And the boys keep saying, every time I get very tired or overwhelmed with the amount of stuff there is to do: "Why don't you ASK us? We do want to help!"

So now I've started asking them and so far I've had no complaints about that and no refusals. I did think I might get some "Yes, later"s which would then get forgotten about, but that hasn't happened either.

I am careful though, not to ask too much. And to only ask for small chunks of things to be done, here and now, which is all ready and prepared for them to do. And (believe it or not, judging by the length of this comment) using few words: "Do this please."

Also I'm finally learning to trust that when they say later, nowadays they mean later. I didn't realise until one of them told me recently, how offended they were when they said 'later' and I didn't believe them and went to do the thing myself to ensure it really got done. So I've stopped doing that now and will actually go to bed leaving things undone, and I sometimes hear deep voices chatting in the kitchen while they wash the dishes at 2am. It's a nice sound actually. Kind of like sleigh bells at Christmas.. ;-)

We also had a boss in a factory I worked at after school as a teenager, who used to ask us 'if we wanted to' do certain jobs. Of course, he didn't mean that at all and we did put him to the test one night, by all saying: "No thanks!"

January 24, 2008 at 10:06 AM  
Anonymous sally said...

Gill, I thought this might interest you if you've not come across it already. Not sure how useful it is to you, but it sure is inspiring!

January 31, 2008 at 1:00 AM  
Anonymous Sally said...

Yep, I've been putting the direct into practice recently. Just 'such and such needs doing. Can you do it?' I find the 'later' intention may be there but you can be pretty sure they will forget, whatever their age, if they don't do it there and then!
I've also been accepting 'no' without laying it on thick about how I get to do it all. I found them more cooperative since I gave up the winging! LOL! (well ... maybe not with all of them! I seem to do alright with the little ones, because they are in training. I'm pretty pissed off by lack of help from my eldest who tells me she's been at work all day. So who hasn't!)

January 31, 2008 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks for the link Sally. That's extremely inspiring, isn't it? (Are you tempted to do one too?)

I must check out your blog to see how you're resolving things with your eldest. See if I can get some tips!

We've had a good week here re: co-operation, following a not-so-good one. I talked about the consequences to us all of not getting this stuff done. One older offspring didn't take this on board when I said it to him directly. Reacted angrily in fact, because he felt manipulated.

But when he heard me telling a sibling the same thing (in slightly different words, obviously) he suddenly started working hard!

Hmmm. There's a *massive* lesson in there for me somewhere..!

February 6, 2008 at 9:20 AM  

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