Management or Relationship. That is the question!

by Mary Ann on March 12, 2015


Not my friend but this woman is 110. Beautiful!!!

I have a friend who was  111 in February of 2015. You read that right, 111!! She lives with her daughter who is 87. She is in good health. She can get around with her walker. She bathes herself, feeds herself and is as sharp as a tack. Her name is Anna and she is Italian.

It has been fun watching Anna. I have learned a lot. Sometimes when I am with her it is like watching a movie in slow motion. She conserves her energy. She does everything slowly and with great thought. I guess in 110 years you figure out that there is no need to hurry. There is time for anything that matters.

She also conserves her energy when a conversation is going on. She listens a lot. If you ask her a question her answer is short and to the point. I guess in 110 years you learn that you can get more from listening than from talking and that most things don’t need to be said.

Where Do We Spend Our Time? In Management or Relationship

It has also been fascinating watching the interaction between Anna and her daughter. Now remember that her daughter is 87 and that she is responsible for her mother who is 110, almost 111. A huge percentage of their conversations sound like this:

Mom, please go take your shower and don’t mess up the bathroom.
Mom, stop slurping your food. You’re going to choke.
Mom, why did you do that!
Mom, wake up. You can’t sleep at the table.
For goodness sake get dressed. It’s already 10.
Mom, you’re wearing me out.

To me she might say:

Mom has really been naughty this week.
I’ll tell you I am so worn out.
I think that mom is having a pity party. She just wants attention.
Sometimes I think she pushes my buttons on purpose.

imagesDoes this sound familiar to you? Of course it does. It sounds as if she is talking to or about a three year old, a nine year old, a twelve year old. It has been fascinating to see that when you are in the position of custodial care for another person you spend a lot of your time in management and only a fraction in actual relationship.

Anna’s daughter loves her a lot, but let’s face it, when you are in charge of the health and well being of another person you feel a great weight of responsibility. You also carry the burden of all that has to be done: food to cook, clothes to wash, floors to clean, and beds to make and on and on. It doesn’t matter if you are 20 years old and have a one year old, are 35 with seven children or are 87 with a mother who is 110. Add to this, if you are a parent, the constant noise, chaos, movement, questions and messes of children.

You can see why the above conversations are so common and why the conundrum of management vs relationship exists.

What can we do to increase our relationship time? Seven TIPS!

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it may give you an idea or two that you can add to your daily interactions with your children:

• As you walk through a room and see one of your children, touch them on their back, arm or shoulder. Don’t say anything just give a squeeze or a pat. You can do this a hundred times a day and use up only a few minutes.

• If you see a child sitting on the couch, at the table, on their bed or anywhere, stop, sit by them, stay for 20-30 seconds, then squeeze a knee, give a quick hug and go on your way. No need to say a word.

• When a child comes and asks a question stop what you are doing and make eye contact, smile. Then answer. If you feel interrupted keep it to yourself.

• Have a family reading time, even if it is only once a week for 15 minutes. Be consistent with whatever you can do. The amount of days in a week and the amount of time per session matter far less than being consistent. While reading cuddle up. Lots of pillows and blankets.

• When it is time for your kids to brush their teeth go with them. While they brush have a conversation. Start by making any random comment such as, “When I was a kid I liked red socks” or “My favorite cartoon was Baby Huey”. Then be quiet and wait for a response. No response, wait for 30 seconds and try again. This whole process is about 3 minutes because that is all the time it takes to brush teeth.

• Have dinner conversations no matter who spills milk, slurps their soup or tips over their chair. You can get it going by saying, “Guess what I saw today” or “Do you know what my boss did” or “Hey, did anyone have anything fun happen today?” Coming back from your fifth trip to the kitchen to get something for someone – smile and say, “Guess what I saw today”, you know what to do. : )

• If a child is supposed to be cleaning their room, don’t just go in every 30 minutes and yell because they aren’t doing it. Go in and say, “How’s it going? Let me help you clean under your bed, or clean out the closet, or pick up your dirty clothes, etc. Then have one of those random conversations. Stay about 5 minutes, talking and helping, and then go do your own stuff. Return in about 20-30 minutes and repeat. This may seem like a waste of your time, when they should just clean their own room, but it pays dividends. Your kids rooms will get cleaned, you won’t yell, you may have a wonderful conversation and maybe even a laugh.

Please share the thoughts that come to your mind. How do you connect and stay Present?

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