Today is something that I hope will be deeply practical and also give you something to think about, and that is creatively or just straight to the point, however you want to do it, when should you hire help in the home?
I think that’s a huge one because I think a lot of people, especially in the West and in America, where we detach from multigenerational families, we try to do it all alone. It becomes very difficult. You understand very quickly that with toddlers running around, with the job schedules that we have created as our values and our purposes in the West, it’s deeply, deeply hard to do it on our own in the world we created, and so I think help in the home is a huge thing.
Now, there’s different ways to do that, whether that’s a nanny, whether that’s an intern, whether that’s someone at the church that’s 15-years-old, or whether that’s a parent. But Jeremy, I’d love to hear you guys start or start talking about this.
Yeah, very deep topic. We’re not going to get too deep in this quick podcast, but it’s really important to, I think as the dad, take very seriously your job to resource your wife. It’s interesting, you see the Proverbs 31 woman. There’s a real contrast between her and I think what a lot of traditional Christians think about with a wife, which oftentimes we can have this sort of 1950s idea of a woman, who just can do everything all by herself, the hyper-individualistic woman at home. That is what a lot of Christian communities lift up as the biblical woman.
That’s not exactly what the Bible ever describes. That’s really a cultural snapshot of what was happening at one time in the West. But really, what you see in the Bible, like Jeff just alluded to, was that that women that were working in the home or really managing a household, they had a lot of resources. They had the family from generations, they had their children, a lot of times extended family. They also had oftentimes, people working in the home. They had people that were there in the household. Part of their household were oftentimes others who would help.
And so what might that look like in this day and age? I think it’s just important to keep in mind that for your family team you might require, your wife may require more resourcing if she’s really taking on a big part of that responsibility. And so however that gets sort of sussed out in your own households, I would say be really thoughtful about, there might be times to hire various help in the home.
In our family, we’ve certainly had lots of different iterations of this. We’ve liked to have one room in our house that was available for someone who was living with our family. Oftentimes, somebody we’d be discipling, somebody who would be assigned something like 20 hours of work a week, that would work with April, or with the family, with the kids.
Man, this was a massive game changer for us and a lot of people just live very isolated. And particularly if you’re having lots of kids, and we had five, you have to quickly think about this from a perspective of, what is realistic? What is our goals as a family? And one of the things that we had to confront constantly was, what narrative do you believe about does, in this case what we struggled with was, did April believe that she had to do it all? The real strong woman who is a mom at home, needs zero help from others, that was something that was not really helpful, and there was times where we really needed to push past that, and find ways to get more help in the house. It was oftentimes a huge blessing to our family to have those singles or other families living with us and helping us out.
Totally. And I think the distinction we have to make guys, especially dads out there, is there’s a huge difference between barely making it and flourishing. Now, I don’t mean that financially or different other areas. I just mean literally, with your bandwidth and your energy as a father, or as a mother, or as parents, can you actually say you’re flourishing?
Again, you can flourish while it’s still really hard and you’re leaving the day with it all spent, kind of like when you leave the gym and you’ve worked out, it was still hard, but you’re flourishing. You really got to be able to have language and helpful assessments of yourself to really say, “Okay, there is a difference between just something that’s hard and I’m like I’m sinking.” Those are two different things. You can still flourish when something’s hard, but you shouldn’t be sinking or drowning. And if you are, I think that’s a great, great barometer for families to say something needs to give. If you don’t want to make the really big decisions of a job change or a move to family, then I think it’s help. I think help.
And like you said, I think the huge narrative that is just actually a lie, and me and Alyssa just don’t care to play that game is, I don’t care what the culture standard is of how much me as a dad should do and how much is a mom should do, I just want to flourish.
We’re going to do that. We’re going to build a team, we’re going to have assets and resources that are going to help us do that.
Now, a couple of creative things guys I would say here is like Jeremy said, you first take it upon yourself dads, because usually in the younger stages it’s clear, no matter how your work is, whether both parents work or whatever, the mom takes the brunt of most of the hardship in the more prone to drown seasons.
And so you then need to take it upon you to try to help solve that problem because you probably have more bandwidth to have more perspective and vision to do that. So then first thing is really easy, ask your wife, “Hey, would you say we’re flourishing in this season? In the last six months, would you say you feel like you can get the things done we need to get done?” Because the household at the end of the day has a level at which it’s a corporation. It needs to be well run, it needs to be taken care of, it needs to have a vision, et cetera. Can you say you can just … Ask your wife, “Hey do you need help? Where’s the biggest breakdown? What’s the one thing that if we took off your plate would feel like you would just make your day? What’s the thing that’s the biggest burden?” Just ask all those questions and then go from there.
And the other thing I would say too is this does not have to take financial resource, right? There’s a million different things you can trade. I know especially if you’re in any kind of Christian community, anyone that I’ve ever been in, you usually can pursue or find some type of younger person or help for free, in regards to trading for a room, or food, or a car, or mentorship, whatever it is.
It does not have to mean spend money but also, it sometimes can. One thing for us, that was really helpful, that we made sure to try to budget and save for, so we had to actually work a little bit more for this or I had to work more for this, is a house cleaner. Alyssa just said, “That just crushes me every week.” I would help too, but Alyssa would do a lot with the house, and so we just tried to budget and save more money to get a house cleaner. That was night and day. Alyssa’s just like, “Oh, I feel so free to do other things.”
Yeah. Just let everything be on the table with that conversation, ask all the questions, and then go from there. But don’t be afraid to have those conversations and also feel that you have the freedom to move pieces around on the table and on the chess board to really help your family. Is there anything else you’d add or finish with there, Jeremy?
I agree. Don’t get locked up. Don’t get stuck in a narrative. Really examine what thriving looks like in each season and really be creative. Don’t be afraid to be creative. Don’t try to fit everything into some cookie cutter idea of what everything has to look like. What does thriving look like for this season for your family, for the goals that you’ve had? A lot of us as dads, who want to build teams on mission, we’re going to stretch our families. When we do that, we got to make sure, particularly, our wives don’t drown or take the brunt of all of those decisions.
And so, we want you guys as dads, be aggressive, build your family, grow your resources, expand the number of kids if you feel called to do that, be fruitful and multiply, but also make sure that you take responsibility for resourcing whatever’s needed in the home. That often looks like some kind of point at which you need to pull this trigger. And if you do, don’t hesitate to do it. Find a way to integrate it and make it healthy for your family, but we’ve seen so many families hesitate for too long on pulling this trigger.
Totally. And guys, one last thing. I know this might be going longer on this one, but I just realized this is what I was wanting to say that I think could be a helpful last minute thought you can take with you and end with on today’s episode, and that is family size.
I don’t think there’s any right answer to family size, in regards to there’s no scriptural thing that says, “Have one, have five.” They’re all a blessing, they’re all great. Do whatever you think the Lord wants for your team on mission. But one really helpful barometer in the family size discussion, that has to do with this discussion of flourishing and thriving versus just surviving, is ask yourself as a dad, “Have I set up enough systems and resources, and taken care of my wife enough, and probed her heart enough to serve her enough, where if we add just one more kid, could we actually do it, or would that kill us?”
That is literally the best barometer question for whether or not you might need help or not. Right? You don’t have to have another kid, but would adding one more kid just completely sink you guys right now or do you think you could do it?
Now, of course, you can still be flourishing and thriving, but have twins, and then a year separation with another kid. That’s a whole different animal, so it’s not the perfect question, but I think that’s a helpful question for me that I asked is-
Is that lack of creativity really the thing that’s stopping you?
Exactly. And so I think that’s a really helpful exercise that just gets the ball rolling on the conversation.