5 tips for when you are feeling undervalued by the family

Sometimes it feels like the work you do for the family goes unnoticed. You know how much goes into keeping everything organised and running smoothly but do they? It takes hard work, persistence and a positive attitude.

A gymnast recently told me that her coach told her she would know she was doing well if people watching her thought it looked easy. That made a lot of sense to me. It would be her hard work, dedication and persistence that would make those watching her undertake her movements think “that doesn’t look too hard, I could probably do that” only for them to find out how very hard those movements actually are.

I think taking care of family can be a lot like that. When it all runs smoothly, it looks easy and perhaps that you are not working as hard as you are. Sometimes you can feel like no one really understands or appreciates the work you do. When this happens and I think it happens to all of us, here are some things I think can help.

Regroup

Find an hour of quiet time by yourself. I realise this in itself can be hard but if you want to be valued you have to value yourself. You need to find an hour in your day where you can regroup mentally and think about what is going on around you. It may mean getting up one morning an hour earlier or taking a walk on your own once the kids are in bed at night. Think creatively and you should be able to find 60 minutes in your day.

Then take that time to focus on you, not the family and how you are feeling towards them. I have found dwelling on negative thoughts never helps. In that time, ask yourself:

  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • Am I tired?
  • Have I been looking after myself?
  • Have I been communicating with my partner?
  • What am I really expecting of my family in return for my efforts?

Perhaps we are feeling undervalued as some of our needs are not being met or there is a mismatch in expectations. Working out exactly why we feel undervalued is the starting point to changing how we feel.

Refocus

Back in 2015 I had a goal for the year to be a planned, patient and present mother to my beautiful kids. Sometimes I found this challenging when:

  • I looked around the house when I returned from school drop off to find miscellaneous items from everyone all over the house as they haven’t bothered to pick thing ups.
  • I was on the end of a rant from a teenager who didn’t have something they wanted or needed / didn’t like the way I had organised things / who had a bad day / insert any other random reason for ranting here (for more explanation see my book review Yes, you’re teen is crazy).
  • When a weekend afternoon was filled with non stop squabbling and bickering by the kids.

In those situations and plenty of others, if I focused on the activity whether it was the rant, the fighting or the mess, my response was less than great. It is hard to respond in a constructive way when you are focusing on the negative. If I took a few deep breaths, refocused on my goal to be the mother I wanted to be and framed my response from that perspective, my response was always so much much better and led to much better outcomes. I wish I could do this 100% of the time! But I am always getting better at it. The more I practice patience and responding in a considered manner, the more I see it works, the more I am motivated to keep using this approach.

Reconsider

Are they really not valuing what you do? Or are they perhaps just not expressing appreciation in ways you are expecting? Or maybe you are simply doing too much so it is time to reconsider what activities you can delegate? Sometimes it takes me a while to catch up with letting kids do what they are actually capable of. Kids will allow us to do all of the work if we do it, we need to consider objectively as an adult what is the right level of work for them to be doing and what things they should be doing for themselves.

Remember

Practicing daily gratitude helps you remember the small things that happen each day. If you don’t take time to write them down or reflect on them, it can be hard to remember them when you look back across the week/month/year. Remember the:

  • look on their face when you find the missing library book
  • the hug after the game when you turn up to their sporting event
  • the smile when they see their favourite snack in their lunch box
  • the understated but heartfelt thank you from the teenager when you help them out of a mess

They are all signs that they do value what you do even if they do not directly say so. I use the 5 minute journal app to help me do this in a meaningful but not time consuming way.

Remind

Of course there are certainly times when children (and adults!) can take the work you do for granted. Instead of allowing this to bring you down, remind them about it. We all get caught up in our own worlds and children in particular are “egocentric” until around 7 years of age {source} I have learnt from experience that ranting and raving about how no one appreciates what I do doesn’t work very well. These strategies on the other hand work much better to remind the family of the work you do:

  • Use family meetings to discuss work load and how they can help you.
  • Role model the behaviour you would like shown to you – role modelling is one of the best ways for kids to learn. Take time to acknowledge the completion of their household tasks, thank them when they voluntarily help you out. Make the thanks specific, not just “thanks”. “Thanks for stopping your game and emptying the bin, I really appreciated it.”
  • Have quiet one on one chats with the kids – moments in the car with teenagers can be incredibly valuable for this. You can quietly and calmly tell them how you are feeling. Teenagers will rarely pick up on how you are feeling by themselves, but once they are made aware there is a much better chance they will change their behaviour (even if it is just for a few hours!).
  • Teaching them to value the work of others – often as a family it is not only our work that is undervalued but other member’s of the family. Each child in our house has tasks they need to complete, for example like folding the washing. I encourage the kids to thank their siblings for folding up their clothes for them. The more the are reminded to appreciate the work of others, the greater the chance they will value and appreciate our work.

Are you feeling burnt out and undervalued?

I think most mums reach this point at some time. I know I did many years ago and fed up with how I was feeling, I set about making significant changes to my life. I turned my life from a point where I was feeling undervalued, under appreciated and over worked at home, to a point where I could once again enjoy my family, have them work with me in the home and spend more time on things I love and this is what I share in my e-course Planned + Present. The course has already helped hundreds of women to do the same and I would love to help you too!

Planned + Present is a seven week e-course to take you from feeling our of control and overwhelmed to feeling planned and present. It is a step-by-step guide on how to organise the chaos of family life while still leaving space to enjoy it.

With the drive of wanting to be organised it can be easy to forget why we want to be organised – to be able to spend more time enjoying our family. The course teaches you how to establish plans and processes for those repetitive tasks of family life, allowing you to be more effective and efficient with your time, so you can be more present with your family. It also shows you how you can spread some of the workload to others in the family, so you don’t feel like you are the worker bee all the time.

Planned and Present includes seven in-depth lessons, for you to work through. And with lifetime access to the course, it’s okay if you fall behind.

To find out more about Planned & Present and sign up for the course head here – Planned & Present.

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