Why do we give the ones we love our leftovers?
It’s 5:30 p.m. and you walk in the door from running errands, having accomplished everything on your to-do list and finishing up with your third phone call where you have, effortlessly, handled another minor emergency today.
You get dinner going as the kids come in the door, put their backpacks and shoes where they belong and offer to help with dinner and setting the table – washing their hands first, of course.
Your husband walks through the door as he finishes up a phone call with last-minute business to attend to. You and the kids greet your husband with a big “group hug” and spend the next several minutes talking about what a wonderful day you had.
You finish preparing dinner and all sit down together to enjoy your meal and family time.
Are you cracking up yet? I am! As much as I strive for that scenario, it rarely happens and when it does, it certainly doesn’t happen quite so angelically as that!
Now for reality…..
It’s 5:30 p.m., you’ve been running like a crazy person all day…..
you know, those dreaded errands that make you feel like you’re accomplishing absolutely nothing and yet
leave you feeling like you’ve just competed in the “Iron Man” competition.
You’ve just dealt with your third minor catastrophe for the day, walked in the door and started dinner.
The kids come running in wanting to know what’s for dinner and when will it be ready and can you please drop them off at Timmy’s to finish up their school project tonight – the one that’s due tomorrow….oh and did you pick up everything they need to finish their project?
In the meantime, your husband walks through the door on his cell phone trying to finish up some last minute work. You give each other that little “chin in the air” nod and go back to making dinner.
All the while, the dogs are barking like wild animals because they have so much to tell you about their very busy day patrolling the grounds and keeping everything safe for you.
Everyone grabs a plate and, hopefully, you make it to the table, but chances are you’re all off and running again. You give your husband another one of those “chin in the air” nods as you head back out the door to divide and conquer and get the kids where they need to be.
Does the second scenario hit closer to home? Why do we do this to ourselves? We run through life like crazy people. Giving everything we have to everyone else
and then by the time we get home,
we have nothing left for the ones that we love.
Oh boy, what about those nighttime rituals?!
Baths, homework, story time, preparing for the next day.
Just rushing through the evening to get to the end of the night when we can crawl in bed and decompress from the day.
Then we think back “Did we stop to enjoy the evening with our family or did we rush through it just to get it done?
Were we short tempered because of all the “lolly-gagging” that went on (or does that only go on at my house) or were we patient and truly enjoying our time together?
Did we just give them our best or was it our leftovers again?
Isn’t it tough? We have to be “on” for everyone else all day long. We get home and are too tired with nothing left to give.
Clearly, I work from home several days a week. When I get engrossed in what I’m doing, I don’t like to stop. I’ve got my creative juices flowing, I’m right in the middle of a blog post or some other business related item and my husband comes home for lunch.
You know what he does? He makes his lunch and comes up to my studio or out to the front porch or wherever else my office is for the day. He makes a choice to come home and spend time with me for lunch.
He’ll try to talk with me and I find myself so engrossed in what I’m doing that I give him vague, half-hearted answers.
I’m busy with what I’m doing, so he just got my leftovers. I certainly don’t mean to do this, but it’s hard for me to get going again once I’m on a roll.
Let me take you back to about eight years ago when we moved to our current house. Prior to this, my husband never worked in the same town where we lived. When we moved, I was so excited that he was able to come home for lunch and spend time with me. It was a treat that we had never experienced before. Just some time spent together in the middle of the day.
Now I get so busy with what I’m doing that when he comes home, I don’t take the time to turn everything else off for a few minutes so we can spend that downtime together. Something I was so excited about eight short years ago, but I’ve found myself taking for granted now.
If I’m being honest, I’m pretty darned ashamed about that!
It’s always in my mind that I work part-time outside of the home and I need to work on my business every other spare minute I have, therefore, I can’t afford downtime.
As I think about all this, I find myself asking “what’s it all for?” If we’re too busy to enjoy time with our families, as most of us find ourselves to be, then is there really a point in all of this? Do we really want to be giving our families our leftovers? Of course not, and yet we do it all the time.
In this electronic world we live in, it is especially difficult to give each other our undivided attention and to leave work at work. We are plugged in constantly….getting emails at home – something that would have previously been dealt with in the morning is now taking our attention right then and there….attention that is taken away from what should be our family time.
We have to work extra hard to show the ones we love that they come first. Why should colleagues and complete strangers get the best of us? It doesn’t seem right and yet, we keep doing it day after day!
All too quickly our kids will be grown and gone – truly – just blink and they are heading off to school or moving elsewhere.
….and shouldn’t we be trying to make our spouse fall in love with us, again and again, every day rather than just giving them our scraps?
So it got me thinking about some things we can do to make sure that our family doesn’t get our leftovers. Just some simple things to help make a difference.
What can we do?
- If you work from home, make sure you finish 30-45 minutes before everyone starts coming in the door so you can start dinner and wind down from your own day of work.
- Ban cell phones during dinner – I know a lot of us have already done this, but you’d be surprised at how many people still allow it.
- Summer is here and days are longer. Go for that family walk after dinner, go to the park, sit on the front porch. Anything to get away from sitting in front of the TV and “vegging” out all evening long. Getting outdoors will do wonders for relieving the stress of a difficult day.
- Make an effort to shut down “shop talk” after a certain time. Our spouses are our best friends, so of course, we are going to talk about our days and even work through issues with each other, however, the discussions don’t have to go on through the evening. After you have talked about it, let it go and move on.
- If the kids have books to read for school, make it a family affair. Read together. During the summer, hit the library after dinner.
I know it’s tough. My boys are older now, but we went through all the night-time chaos in our house. Looking back, I know there were things I could’ve done to make the night easier and give my family my best.
I know there’ll be more things that I’ll think about over time, but the one thing I know is that I definitely want to stop giving my family my leftovers.
God gave me this family! He entrusted them to me! I am grateful for this every day of my life, so why on earth wouldn’t I want to give them my best?
Sure, we’ll all slip back from time to time, but I believe just being aware of it and reminding ourselves every…. single…. day that “I don’t want my family to get my leftovers,” will help us to give them a little more of our best! So go out and show your family that they come first today!
Do you find yourself giving just your leftovers? Or perhaps you have some great tips on giving our families our best. I would love to hear them! Share them in the comments below.
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Until next time, my friend…..
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