In part one of this three part series on how to help the people you love, I talked about helping them in the way that they need help. Not the way we think to help them. Only the person who needs help can really tell us what they need.
In the last post, I mentioned “if you’re a mother, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a niece, a grandmother, well, any one with estrogen surging through them, then you have experienced the urge to be helpful. You’ve wanted to be helpful to those you love, and sometimes even to a perfect stranger.” If you fall in one of those categories, then I know that my next suggestion is going to be hard for you.
Nurturers by nature are helpful. And being helpful means pitching in, getting our hands dirty, doing what’s necessary. Being helpful somehow implies that we need to be in the fray. But by its very definition, helpful means “giving or ready to give help.” And the last part of that definition is what I want to talk about.
“Ready to give help” is not the same as being involved. It’s just means we are ready to help if that person tells what they need from us.
When we see someone we love hurting, working hard, in a time crunch, frustrated, etc., it’s hard to not rush to their aid. But sometimes the best thing we can do is stay out of the way.
Real life example:
You are awakened from a deep sleep when you hear a noise in the house. Of course, you wake your husband up to check things out. But you insists on going with him to disarm the burglar. In essence what will happen?
- you distract him from what he really needs to do
- you become a secondary priority that requires part of his attention
- your opinions distract him from finding the solution (you know you’re going to be telling him how he ought to handle this issue)
- he is safer
I know it’s a silly illustration, but you didn’t really want me to go there about us girls trying to help our husbands in those real life scenarios. Did you?
Real life example:
Your daughter comes home from school heart broken. Romeo has broken her heart. First reaction of a Southerner: “snatch him bald” (deep South), “wring his neck” (middle South), “give him a piece of my mind” (just South). But staying out of the way of this relationship issue, instead of helping, while going against the grain of a nurturer, will be the best help a mother can give.
What happens to our loved one when we stay out of the way?
- they find a solution on their own
- they learn that some problems resolve themselves, if given enough time
- they grow in their trial
- they learn about themselves
- they develop life skills in the process
Being helpful means “being ready to help.” Being ready doesn’t entail action. Sometimes the best help we can give to the people we love is to stay out of their way, and let them know that we are available . . . if they need our action.
If you’re a mother, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a niece, a grandmother, well, any one with estrogen surging through them, then you have experienced the urge to be helpful. You’ve wanted to be helpful to those you love, and sometimes even to a perfect stranger. (Note: today we are not talking about our little ones.)
It’s so, so easy to think up ways to help:
- take them soup
- send them flowers
- offer to babysit
- share a cup of coffee
- bake them a pie
- etc., etc.
What’s not so easy is to help the way that person actually needs help.
- soup won’t clean their house
- flowers don’t give much needed rest
- babysitting, well, that just might be helpful
- coffee doesn’t ease our pain
- pies just make us fat
In the above quick, self-selected avenues of helping, how may those not actually be helpful?
- soup may mean they have to complete the meal with foods they don’t already have on hand
- what if they are allergic to flowers, especially those lovely Stargazers
- babysitting may mean they have to take the time to drive the kids to your house in an already tight schedule
- they don’t have time to meet you for coffee
- pies mean returning dishes to you
Real Life example:
Life is crazy busy. Schedules are tight. In order to still have a sit-down dinner with the family, you decide to put supper in the oven and set the timer. When everyone gets home, voila! dinner will be ready. You buzz in the door excited to eat dinner and catch up on all that is happening with the kids at school. But when you open the oven door, the oven feels room temperature, not hot. Quickly, you check all the settings only to find that the oven is off. Husband coming into the kitchen says, “Hi, honey! you left the oven on this morning, so I turned it off about an hour ago.” What?!?!?!
To be sure, you needed help that day, but that was not the help you needed.
Your husband could have set the table, swept the floor, made coffee, anything. A number of things would have been helpful; turning the oven off was not one of them.
And that’s how it works for the people we love. They need our help, but they don’t need help that actually makes more work for them or doesn’t solve any of the problems they have.
Real life example:
You know that your daughter has been working hard to keep her grades up while taking on a part in the school play. You want to do something special for her. You make appointments for both of you to get a manicure. A surprise girls’ night out! Great idea! She’ll love it! When she gets home from school, you let her know how proud you are of her and all of her hard work. Yeah! Then bong! “That would be so much fun,” she let’s you know, BUT she has play practice. What she really needs is her blouse ironed since she needs to get back to practice right away.
To be sure, she needed help that day, but the manicure was not the help she needed.
How can we know what to do?
There’s no magic formula for truly being helpful. Just two simple mindsets and one action:
- Don’t assume that they need what you would need if you were in the their shoes.
- Be willing to do what they need.
- Ask the one you love, “What can I do to be the most help to you?”
(Continue with me to Part 2 and Part 3.)
We’ve all done it. Used our bedrooms as storage. Ugh! What were we thinking?!
Oh, it happened so innocently. Perhaps you got a box out of the attic to sort through seasonal clothing for the upcoming season. Then on a whim, you decided to have friends over for dinner. But there sat that box of clothing in the middle of the living room floor.
No problem; you can just set it in the bedroom for now.
But the weekend is over, and it’s back to work, children’s activities, grocery shopping, etc. You think to yourself, “There’s always next weekend to tackle that box.”
Next weekend came but there were kids’s ballgames. So, it’s okay that the box is in the way. You’d been working around it for a week now anyway. What’s another week?
Then you teen’s science fair project took up residence in your bedroom where the siblings wouldn’t destroy it before the science fair next month. Next month?!
And then the stack of magazines you were scouring for new recipes showed up.
The stack of T-shirts for the quilt have been washed, but you’re not quite ready to sew. So . . . yup, they’re now lurking in your bedroom.
You not only get the picture; you’ve actually lived with the mess. Your bedroom often becomes home to a barrage of items that don’t belong there in the first place.
Eventually, you decide you must sort through everything that is now at home in your bedroom.
Bedrooms are an easy target for clutter and extra storage space, but they shouldn’t be!
Instead of talking you through the usual organizing steps, I want to talk you through WHY you should organize your bedroom. Understanding the sanctity of that space will go along way in motivating you to get it organized and keeping it organized.
Bedrooms are for sleeping and ultimately resting.
It’s common information now that clutter adds mental weight. When our minds are heavy, rest is, at best, well . . . restless, and at worst, illusive. We simply cannot rest when we are buried in “stuff.” The “stuff” veritably screams out to us to put it away, meaning we do not truly rest.
Bedrooms provide a haven.
Relaxing by its very nature implies a haven. Think spa. Need I say more? We all long for time and a space to feel like the cares of the world are far away. Bedrooms should provide just that.
Have you ever been to a spa or salon where the boxes of shampoo, nail polish, or incense are sitting in the waiting room? There’s a reason that area and the massage rooms are clear of clutter.
Hotel rooms are a classic picture of why we like and need clutter free bedrooms. We all love the picture perfect place to relax. In fact, have you ever walked into your hotel room and just flopped on the bed with a deep sigh. Me too!
Your bedroom should be that space and evening should be that time to find your haven away from the cares of the world.
Bedrooms are often our only place of retreat.
There’s a lot of activity going on in a home: meal prep in the kitchen, eating in the dining room, homework in the kids’ bedrooms, TV watching in the family room. And sometimes the standards are all over the place: eating takes place in the kitchen or the family room and homework is done in the dining room. Nonetheless, home is a busy little place.
If we want to get away with a book, find a place to work on our planners/journals or just to think, we head to our bedrooms.
I know; I know. It won’t be long till some little fist comes rapping at the bedroom door, and somebody wants you for some reason. But the fact that there was even a knock at the door, tells us that for some reason, it’s understood that something quiet is going on in there, and he who enters needs to do it respectfully.
We all need to retreat away from the busyness of life from time to time. You want your bedroom to function that way for you or your spouse.
(We could deviate here and say the same applies to your guest bedroom. Do your guest find a retreat, a haven, a quiet resting place in the space you provide for them? Or do they feel like they are keeping you from your hobby?)
Organize as you will. But let me recommend some things to eliminate from your bedroom.
- Hobby paraphernalia – all of it! Even projects that you are presently working on. You don’t do them in your sleep anyway.
- Stacks of magazines that you plan to read before going to sleep. It’s doubtful you will.
- Removing a TV may be necessary if watching it makes you stay up later than you should.
- Electronic devices; unplug for a bit, for heaven’s sake.
- Laundry – if it’s clean, put it away; if it’s dirty, put it in the hamper. Your bed nor the floor are storage facilities.
- Any kind of box of any kind of thing. If you need the items in the container, then they need a “home” where you can get to them. A box is not a “home.” For anything.
- Clutter on your dresser top. What? You were able to make it to the dresser, but you couldn’t get the drawer open to put that item away?
When it comes to organizing your bedroom, you can go about it in a variety of ways. In the end, if you truly value your bedroom, it will serve you well.