Every Caregiver should have a Bill of Rights. I’ve written a bill of rights for mothers that can be tweaked and used for Fathers, grandparents and family caregivers for the elderly.
When my children were young my mother gave me some terrific advice: “No one can take care of your children like you do. If you get sick or depressed they will suffer because you are not there to care for them. Your top priority is to take care of yourself so you will have the strength to take care of your family. If they lose you, they lose everything.”
That’s powerful advice. Parents are quick to sacrifice money, time and resources in order to give their children the extras. While love is their driving force, it’s often hard to remember to use caution and not become depleted.
My Dad preached a mother’s day sermon titled, “Even Criminals Get Time Off For Good Behavior. Most of this Bill of Rights was taken from his sermon.
MOMMY BILL OF RIGHTS
1. You have the right to uninterrupted personal time. This doesn’t have to be large blocks of time, just a little time for peace, quiet and reflection. Every day should include a few moments of personal time.
If you are so busy there’s hardly time for a shower, at least make sure you have help with the children once a week for a minimum of two hours. Take a long bath, read a chapter in a book, sleep or just sit outside and stare at God’s beauty.
Whatever you choose to do, remember you have a “right” to some quiet time on a regular basis. Almost 80% of young mothers problems revolve around exhaustion. A simple prescription to take a nap and go out to lunch with a friend has made huge problems disappear.
2. Mommy’s are definitely more important than criminals. If they get “time off for good behavior”, moms should too.
Send the children to a friends or grandma’s. Swap babysitting with someone in your child’s playgroup. Hire a babysitter or schedule Dad to take over for a while. While the children are gone for the day or week-end, Mom should plan something special. Something like, shopping with friends, a one tank trip, a date with Dad or pursuing a new outlet. The main point is that it should be at least 24 hours of doing anything that’s not “kid” approved.
3. Mommy’s should receive unaccounted for money. On a regular basis mom should have money that is hers and hers alone. This is easier if you are working, but if you are a stay at home mom there still should be a small amount every week that is budgeted to mom. Money she can spend any way she likes – preferably on something she doesn’t need.
4. Gifts to her should be about her as a person. Watch carefully Dad’s. When buying mom a present be careful to feed her inner desires and not just make her the wastebasket for household needs that can’t be budgeted anywhere else.
The only time it’s appropriate to give her a blender for a present is at her wedding shower. Budget for household appliances and opt for the pretty scarf for her birthday. And for heaven’s sake – unless you are totally sure it’s something she’s asking for – don’t make the new furniture her Christmas gift. And even if she’s for that, get her a little something pretty to put under the tree.
5. All Mommy’s are different. Don’t compare your wife or your mom to someone else. She has the right to be different.
Nancy may work outside the home and therefore doesn’t have time to keep a clean house. Her husband should be understanding, hire a maid or roll up his sleeves and help.
Lori may be a stay at home mom and when Dad comes home she is waiting with cold ice tea and hot supper. The two should not be compared. You should work out the lifestyle that is best for your family. Be supportive and proud of what you have created within your family.
6. Mommy’s are not second class citizens. Mommy’s have the right to a 50/50 voice. They have the right to share in decision making and to keep you informed on the best choices for the family. If you take away her right to have an opinion – you have made her a slave and no more important than chief cook and bottle washer. Make her your Vice President in charge of home relations and upkeep.
7. Don’t belittle her needs. Men and women are different and will react to situations in totally different ways. No matter how logical or how much you have agreed on a certain action, the two sexes will react differently. Accept that and don’t belittle her decision when it’s different from yours.
8. Mommy has the right to be an eight-cow wife. You can write me for the full story, but here’s the condensed version.
Johnny Lingo was the richest man in town and he loved Sarita. It was the custom to give a dowry of a few goats for a homely wife and as much as two cows for a beautiful woman. Sarita was homely. Johnny approached her father and offered eight cows for Sarita. Johnny was laughed at for making such a horrible deal.
A reporter was interviewing Johnny and met Sarita. She was a beautiful woman with a regal air about her. When Sarita left the room, the confused reporter asked why Johnny was laughed at for his deal.
“You think eight cows was too many?” A smile slid over his lips.
“No, but how can she be so different from the way the town described her?” The reporter flipped the page of his notebook.
“I thought about how it must make a girl feel to know her husband paid a very low dowry for her? It must be an insult to know he placed such little value on her. It would be difficult to hear other women boast about the high prices their husbands paid for them. It would be embarrassing. I would not let this happen to my Sarita.”
“So, you paid eight cows just to make your wife happy?”
“Well, of course I wanted Sarita to be happy, but there’s more to it than that. You say she is different from what you expected. This is true. Many things can change a woman. There are things that happen on the inside and things that happen on the outside. However, the thing that matters most is how she views herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. As a result, that’s the value she projected. Now, she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands. It shows, doesn’t it?”