Top 10 Reasons Women Feel More Like a Maid Than a Wife and a Mom

Taken for Granted Moms: Why you sometimes feel more like a maid than a wife and a mom--and what you can do about it.

Ever feel taken for granted? Most moms and wives do at some point.

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And that’s why I wrote To Love, Honor and Vacuum. I wanted to help moms who feel unappreciated rethink how they do family so that instead of feeling like a maid, she can feel like part of a healthy family unit that’s all working towards the same goal. And a revised and expanded To Love, Honor and Vacuum is being launched this week–and it’s only $2.99 in ebook format until Sunday! So pick it up today.

On that vein, I thought I’d share the top 10 things that we wives and moms do that we think are helping, when really they can actually make our family situation worse. Be sure to read through to #10, because that’s the most important one–and it’s the root cause of all the other ones.

I asked on my Facebook Page last night, “when do you feel most like a maid instead of a mom?”, and many of these 10 things were mentioned! Now, of course, you could answer that question with “when my husband ignores me” or “when my husband sits on the couch all night and does absolutely nothing”, but I think it’s more helpful to give women strategies they can use to actually change things. We can’t change someone else; we can only change ourselves. So let’s look at the things that we women do to undermine ourselves, here on Top 10 Tuesday:

1. Doing all the housework yourself

One woman on Facebook says that she feels most like a maid when she’s doing the dishes–for the fifth time that day. I totally get it! Housework is exhausting. It’s never ending, it’s tedious, and no one really says thank you. So why are you doing it all yourself?

You cannot keep a perfect home and raise kids who are active and engaged all at the same time. Something’s gotta give. And one of the best ways to help you not feel like a maid is to make sure that from a very young age kids are doing chores, too. Tie the chores to an allowance when they’re young. If it’s a struggle with teens, change the password on the wifi everyday, and don’t give it out until they’ve completed their chores. Require your kids to work.

A 3-year-old can dust a coffee table and can clean the bottom kitchen cabinets. A 5-year-old often LOVES cleaning toilets with that toilet brush thingy. An 8-year-old can clean a bathroom well and can certainly do the dishes. So don’t do it all  yourself.

Here’s an article on age appropriate chores for kids.

2. Not asking your husband for help

Many men do very little housework if they work outside the home and you stay at home. My husband always worked long hours, and when he got home, I didn’t want him doing dishes. I wanted us spending time together as a family. So I didn’t ask him to do housework (though he always picked up his clothes and took care of his own messes). But if you both work outside the home, you’re definitely going to need some help. Even if you do stay at home, you still will need help with the childcare (and men need to spend time with their kids) and you’ll certainly need help on weekends.

But too many women don’t ask for help. They assume that the men should know what to do, and if they’re sitting playing a video game or if they’re goofing off, they’ve actually decided not to help you. That may not be the case. I asked on Facebook a while ago how many women had actually asked their husbands for help, and I received story after story of women saying, I stewed for ten years about how insensitive he was, and yet when I finally asked him to do the dishes after dinner, he did them no problem. He just never knew I needed help!

Try asking. It doesn’t always get you the results you need, but don’t be resentful if you’ve never even asked. Men often think that because we have systems for things, we would find their help more of a pain than anything else. If you want help, don’t expect him to read your mind. Ask.

3. Allowing your children to treat you rudely

From an early age, make your children say “please” and “thank you”. If they talk back, discipline immediately. If they ask for anything rudely, they never, ever get it. Do not let them treat you with direspect.

When my oldest was five, another five-year-old once stayed with us for a week. That little girl whined all the time. It was her default setting–and I can’t stand whining. So I stopped giving her anything if she was whining. “Can I have some mi-i-i-lk?” she’d whine. And I would say, “when you can ask in a proper voice.” After three days she had stopped whining. I honestly don’t know how her parents stood it. It would have driven me beyond the bend if my kid talked like that all the time. Within a few seconds of her mom walking in the door, though, the whining had started again. Don’t ever reward whining or rude behaviour, or they’ll just keep doing it.

4. Picking up after everybody

Do you spend your life putting stray socks in the hamper and picking up toys? That’s exhausting–and can easily fuel resentment.

But people will keep leaving stuff everywhere if you keep picking it up.

If your ten-year-old comes in the house and drops his coat on the chair and his backpack–with his lunchbox inside–on the floor, and you pick those things up and clean out his lunchbox, you’ve taught him to treat you with disrespect. But not just that–you’ve also taught him to ignore the mess he’s making, so that he likely doesn’t even realize that he’s inconveniencing you.

Don’t pick up people’s stuff. Require them to pick it up–and have consequences if they don’t. For husbands, have a corner of the bedroom/house where you can put stray items if they drive you nuts, so that they can be his responsibility again.

Here’s an article I wrote on how to get kids to pick up their stuff!

5. Rescuing everybody

You’re running late, you’ve got to get to work, and you get a text that your 13-year-old forgot his lunch at home. So you drive back to get the lunch and drop it off, making yourself even more frazzled. Or  you mentioned to your husband that he really needed to send that birthday card to his mom, and he didn’t, and you notice it on the counter the morning after it should have been sent, so you run to the post office and send it express. You had to squeeze it in between appointments, but you did it–and you were only mildly late for the kids’ piano lessons.

Do you rescue everybody? There’s no problem with doing it occasionally, out of love. But if family members start assuming you’ll rescue them, they also stop taking responsibility or even making an effort. They’ve taken you for granted. That’s going to make you feel like a maid, too.

6. Overscheduling yourself and your family

If you’re busy and exhausted, you’ll feel like a maid. If your life is spent chauffeuring everybody, but rarely in the things that feed our souls, like down time with those we love, we’ll go through life with this chronic malaise like something’s wrong.

Beware of overscheduling your family.

Here’s an article on the time crunch with extra-curricular activities

7. Being disorganized

Are you the kind of laid back person who goes along life just fine for about five days, letting the messes get worse and worse, but having fun with your kids, until you finally realize OH MY GOODNESS THIS PLACE IS A PIGSTY and you go ballistic? And then you feel like you need to spend twelve hours in a row cleaning?

Sometimes the best way to feel less like a maid is to get a little more organized, so these crises don’t happen!

8. Asking your children to do things instead of expecting it and following through

When you ask your kids something, do you make it a firm command? Or are you wishy washy?

Compare this:

Johnny, it’s getting to be time to clean up your toys, okay? It’s almost time for dinner.

To this:

Johnny, start cleaning up your toys now. You have five minutes before we eat, and I’m setting the timer now.

In the first case, you haven’t actually asked Johnny to do anything. You’ve just made a statement about the time. You may feel like you’ve asked him, but you haven’t. And so he’s unlikely to listen and do anything, and you’re likely to get your blood pressure boiling! If you want them to do something, make it very clear. Ask firmly. Set a deadline. Expect follow-through.

9. Eating in a rush–and not at the dinner table

You’ve spent an hour making a great meal, but everybody sits at the table, rushing through it, with their phones on. Or else someone grabs it and heads to their room. Perhaps you all sit at the table, but the kids are whiny and picky and don’t like it and the meal is over in five minutes.

Make dinner a family time. Keep conversation starters at the table. Ask trivia questions. Have everyone say their “high” and “low” for the day. Start some family traditions where you really connect and talk over dinner. It’s an important family time–don’t waste it.

Here are some tips on getting picky eaters to eat!

10. Thinking that the goal is to make your family happy

Finally, here’s the most important one: You think that your job is to make sure your kids and your husband are happy. In fact, that’s likely why you do each of the nine things already mentioned. You want them to enjoy life. You want them to smile. You want to avoid unpleasantness. But in doing this, you’re likely inadvertently causing your own unhappiness, because you’ll feel taken for granted. But even more importantly, you’re missing the point.

To Love, Honor and VacuumGod’s priority is not that your kids are happy; it’s that they look like Jesus. And He wants that for you and your husband, too. If you set up your family in such a way that you’re enabling selfishness, laziness, and ingratitude, you’ll be miserable because you’ll always feel put upon, taken for granted, and like something’s off kilter. But the rest of the family will also not learn what it is to look like Christ.

That’s what To Love, Honor and Vacuum is about–it’s to change our perspective so that in everything we do, whether it’s housework or childcare or paid work or even how we do marriage, we’re encouraging Christlike behaviour from ourselves and those around us, rather than encouraging people to take us for granted. It’s amazing how the way that we do the little things in our home, like chores and dinner and school, can have such spiritual ramifications.

So be careful that happiness doesn’t become your goal. If it does, you’ll almost guarantee that everybody will be miserable. Raise a family to be responsible, though, and you’ll likely find that peace and joy you really want.

If this is resonating with you, pick up To Love, Honor and Vacuum! It’s available in paperback, too, but the ebook version is on major sale for $2.99 until Sunday. Don’t miss it!

Now tell me: when do you feel most taken for granted? What have you tried to do about it? Let me know in the comments!

 

Comments

  1. Wow this sounds like my life. My wife was in a car accident last year which messed up her back more than it was before. Her doctor told her she could not do any housework so that leaves me with it. I don’t mind doing it. Sometimes it feels just frustrating that there is not enough hours in a day to do everything, from working 7-5 and then cook, clean, wash dishes, wash clothes, walk the dog, mow the lawn etc etc etc. It gets overwhelming. And then she wants me to spend time with her and help her with her things.

  2. Hi,

    My husband and I both work full time. I have often asked my husband to help around the house but he refuses, saying is my job to take care of the house and to take care of our children and their activities. Many times I stay up late cleaning and preparing for the next day while he sits on the couch for hours. So asking husbands to help it doesn’t work all the time.

  3. Great, great tips. And I think many women, along with feeling like a maid, feel truly anappreciated by their husbands. Maybe because they never ask for help like you’ve mentioned, and maybe because their communication “style” needs a little fixing.
    Everyone who feels taken for granted should remember that in some way they are allowing it, and in worse cases they even unknowingly encourage it. I’ve also written a post about what to do when you feel unappreciated by your husband, maybe you’d like it: http://www.how-to-save-marriage.org/my-husband-doesnt-appreciate-me/
    Lisa recently posted…Comment on Can Separation Save a Marriage? 3 Surprising Ways to Use the Split to Save Your Marriage by Lisa PennMy Profile

    • So true, Lisa. Love this sentence:

      Everyone who feels taken for granted should remember that in some way they are allowing it, and in worse cases they even unknowingly encourage it.

  4. This is a great list, especially #10! I get frustrated with my husband because he doesn’t pick up after himself: laundry, food, trash, etc. I asked him if he would make the bed after he takes a nap in it (we only have a comforter, no sheets, so it’s not like it’s difficult) and he said, “yeah, that’s not likely to happen.” You could just laugh at that statement, couldn’t you! :) His mom never let him clean anything growing up because she was a perfectionist, so that’s what he learned, never to help out, never attempt because it won’t be good enough, anyway. SO MAMAS! Let your youngin’s help out, even if they don’t do a good job, and especially the boys! Train them now, and they will be a BLESSING to their future wives! Amen. ;)

    • I said in To Love, Honor and Vacuum: “The best gift you can your future daughter-in-law is a son who cleans toilets”!

    • I recently told my teenagers (boy & girl) I was no longer doing their laundry. When more than a week went by, they were ready to learn how. And now I find them picking up after themselves more without me asking them too. But still no one wants to do dishes or clean the bathroom. :(

  5. Great points! I think sometimes women do everything because they feel that they are serving their families by doing so. But I read a quote in a book once that I think sums it up perfectly: “Servitude is not service!” When we are serving so much that it becomes servitude, we are actually doing our families a disservice because we are not teaching them to be self-reliant and helping them develop the skills they will need in the future.
    Laura recently posted…Why I Believe by MarkMy Profile

    • So funny you should say that! I used those exact words in the book. Here’s the thing: Jesus served by washing the disciples’ feet, but the reason that resonated with them was because He was who He was. Lots of people would have washed their feet in that culture, but they would have been the “lowly” ones, and it wouldn’t have registered. If we want our service to register to our family, then we can’t act like we’re lowly–and too many of us do. We have to garner respect at the same time, or else we’re not modelling respect. We’re just enabling people’s laziness. And those are two entirely different things! So glad you saw that, too.

  6. Growing up, my mom did nearly all the housework, and I just assumed it was my job as an adult. Now, as a homeschooling mom of 4 kids ages 9 to 16 I tend to forget that I do in fact work, albeit at home with my own kids. I am learning to ask for help. I still forget especially when everyone gets tired, and I revert back to doing it all and feeling resentful. I could still use to get life more organized to prevent myself from falling into the tired trap. I have To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. I guess it’s time to read it again!

  7. Hi Lisa,

    I read your blog, and I have a question. What do I do when my husband asks where would I like to eat, but constantly saids “gross” to every place I mention. I am not trying to be a victim here. But my husband is very difficult. When I fix meals he comes home and adds more to it, this annoys me. In a few occasions he has thrown the coffee I prepare because is not good enough for him. So I have stopped making coffee.

  8. I love these Sheila. I think # 10 sums it up! I am quite the juggler and “hard worker” because I grew up thinking hard work equates acceptance and love. # 2 resonates alot..unless I ask my husband, he really doesn’t notice things. I am glad that he picks after himself but unless I ask for specific help, he thinks i have it under control. Thanks for the reminders :)
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…Why We Should Stop Asking Single Women When They are Getting MarriedMy Profile

  9. Melissa says:

    I feel taken for granted when I work my butt off to get the house to a state my husband likes (he’s the neat freak, I’m the messy one, he works full time and I stay at home so the bulk of the cleaning is my domain) and then stuff just gets dumped and left for me to pick up. You wanted a clean house, I worked hard for it, do your part please. Or when the systems I set in place to help keep the house clean are not respected. Is it really THAT hard to put one’s socks in the hamper instead of on the floor next to it???

  10. Teresa R says:

    My husband is disabled (Tourettes) and stays home while I work. If the trash bag is full, he won’t remove it from the can, he just puts what he’s throwing away on the kitchen counter next to the trash can. And when he helps me vacumn, he has to sit in “my” desk chair and roll around in it to vacumn

  11. Thumbs up! Great points, Sheila!

  12. Renee Greaner says:

    Where can I find your book in paperback. I am one of those who still like to turn the pages

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  1. […] Top 10 reasons you feel more like a maid than a mom “Lets change our perspective so that in everything we do, whether it’s housework or childcare or paid work or even how we do marriage, we’re encouraging Christlike behavior from ourselves and those around us, rather than encouraging people to take us for granted.” […]

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