We know that sometimes, in parenting, we gotta push through the middle. Things with little ones isn’t always easy. There are routines, sleep schedules, and meltdowns to contend with. Still, there is wisdom in knowing what types of things are worth it during this season. Let’s dig in! Contains affiliate links.
We went to a monster truck show…
Really, our seats weren’t that good.
We were way high and had to disturb every around us each time someone had to go to the potty.
Which, of course, was a lot. It was an hour’s drive away and the show didn’t even start until after the kids’ bedtime… but we hoped it’d be worth it.
And boy were we right.
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My kids thought the monster truck show was the loudest and most exciting thing ever. They wore these awesome ear things and stared mesmerized. Instead of monster trucks they could fit in their hands in our dirt pile, these were huge, loud, spinning around, and doing wheelies.
I’ll not compare it to the opera, but it was certainly a cultural experience.
It was, in fact, worth it. It was worth getting someone to watch the baby, worth risking tantrums, worth the hassle afterwards when we arrived home, and worth the next day’s crankiness. I had a feeling it would be worth it, and I was right.
What makes something “worth it?”
But you what I say when I say… sometimes things are just not worth the trouble. Sometimes, they simply are not. It doesn’t matter how much we “should” do it. The trick is being able to figure out which type of “not worth it” it is and how to push through.
It may be worth it if:
- precious memories are made
- it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity
- you are doing it for someone else you care about
- it’s the only way to reach your (or your family’s) goal
- the kids have an amazing time
- the fallout is minimal
But, let’s dig in deeper here. No mother wants to be the one who is all rules and no play.
We don’t want our kids to see us as fuddy duddies who were so worried about keeping our bedtime routine that we never live and let live. And yet, there is wisdom in knowing when to be a reasonable person and just say “no.”
The Hassle – “Not Worth It” Type 1
I’m not gonna lie… sometimes everything feels like a hassle when you have a lot of small kids close in age. Even eating breakfast can be a hassle if I don’t play my cards right and keep a lid on things. But, here’s what’s important.
Even events, opportunities, or activities that are a hassle can be exponentially worth the effort.
Going to a family reunion when you know you’ll see some people for the last time.
Getting everyone dressed and ready for church.
Going on a (laid back) trip you know the kids will enjoy.
A much overdue date with a dear friend (even if the kids tag along).
Teaching children to clean the toilet for the 3,567th time.
Enforcing consequences for behaviors when you’d rather just let things slide.
Whatever. They will be different for your family than they are for mine. The key to remember is that sometimes things are a hassle because life isn’t easy. Things take effort. Shoot, doing my hair takes effort most days so why would lugging the kids somewhere be different?
If it’s a bit of hassle for mom and dad, but the kids absolutely love it that feels worth the effort. If it’s a bit of hassle for our family, but it blesses another in the process, that is worth the effort. If it’s a lot of effort, consistency, and planning yet it pays dividends well over the work, it’s worth it.
The Aftermath – “Not Worth It”
There is, however, another class of “no really, it’s not worth it.” This is the times when whatever you’ve put in effort to do was seriously not worth the time, expense, and aftermath that ensued.
It’s when you know your kids, your own personality, and the lay of the land enough to know when to throw up the white flag and say… “Not this season of life. No sir.”
Events, opportunities, or activities that cause stress – not joy – and have an aftermath can be not worth the effort.
Making appointments during nap time (just no, never ever.)
Taking a baby and toddlers on a weekend away or vacation that requires them to sit still all day.
Going to an event that lasts one hour that takes 3 hours to prepare for and means the kids scream forever when they get home.
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Play dates with friends’ children who just don’t get along with yours.
Dressing the kids, packing the car, buckling everyone in, then going to town for a 10 minute errand when it takes 1 hour to get ready.
Taking a vacation to a place where the kids won’t sleep, can’t nap, and the schedule is too grueling.
Whatever. You get it. It’ll be different for each family and home dynamic. We mothers often bite off more than we can chew and think we have to do everything right now. Even though it’s a unique season. And we “have” to do very little.
If your kids are going to melt down, cry, fuss, whine, and get extremely exhausted in the process of The Thing, perhaps it isn’t worth it. Maybe it is, but most of the time it isn’t. If you and the kids are going to “pay for it” for 3 days in the future, why put yourself through the misery?
You can leave a party early to get the kids to bed on time. Sure, you don’t have to, but kids who go to bed late wake up all through the night overtired and fussy. If the party isn’t that flash and you know you’ll be up 4 times that night at least, is it worth it to you?
When to push through
I do think, however, that we shouldn’t make decisions based on whether we feel inconvenienced. Yes, we all know feelings are powerful and it’s our job to get a grip on our emotions. The goal is not to ask ourselves “Will this annoy me?” but…
- In the end, is this worth the effort?
- Will this bless someone we love, even if it’s stressful for our family?
- Is this a special or once in a lifetime situation we’ll never get back?
- Will the children’s joy far outweigh my momentary inconvenience?
- Is this just my desire to lay on the couch talking (and note, sometimes that’s okay)?
- Tomorrow, will I be happy or sad we did this?
- Does this have eternal consequences?
- Is this something I must push through for their own future (like chores or responsibility building)?
The fact is we can’t do everything.
We shouldn’t do everything.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
It’s okay if we pick and choose what our family does.
In fact, that is what is referred to as Being an Adult.
Don’t feel false guilt if you have to tell your children (or others) “no.” Don’t feel pressured to do things you don’t want to do to please someone else. That’s people pleasing and that is pretty much never worth it.
Don’t feel your entire child’s memories of childhood rest on one or two single events.
You’re doing a good job.
And some things just aren’t worth it.
Thank you so much for this post! This was so timely as its been on my heart to re-evaluate our priorities and nail down again what is and isn’t worth it for this season :) I can often get stuck in a rut knowing that the only way I can “accomplish my list is if I don’t add to much, but I do then battle with not wanting to always say no! This has given me great ideas of what to look at to help me pray and process through each area. Thank you again, what a blessing!
Rachel Norman says
Lee, so glad it has helped you. It really helped me think about things too. Sometimes it’s worth it in the long run for our kids, but is annoying to us. Sometimes, it’s just not a good idea. Ha! God give us discernment!
I loved reading this. I really try to make wise choices for our family but frequently come up against “oh aren’t your kids doing a, b, c? They would love it!!” It’s nice to see someone advocating for a calmer lifestyle
Rachel Norman says
Anne, so so true. I often find that when I push us to do things that seem like everyone else is doing them… they don’t pan out. Ha. I just look at the kids and know they’re happy and think, it’ll be okay ;)