Sunday, November 16, 2008

When I Need a Hand

Delegation is something that I didn't do in in my early days of adulthood. To not be in control was a big issue with me. You remember the motto, "If you want it done right, do it yourself." I did grow up hearing that, but as I have matured, I notice that asking for help, showing the other person how to do the job (kids or those that want to be shown), and then letting go is the way to free up time for me to contribute to my home, job and other parts of my life using my personal strengths. I have learned that it is okay to let someone else do tasks at work, at home and within organizations or friendship groups.

If I leave it up to my young children to pick up the toys from around the house, or set the table, it doesn't mean that I will not care about the outcome or the quality of the finished job, but it does mean that I will find the positive things about it to compliment them with and put on my list to give more help and show examples for what was not done correctly or up to the standards that I have the next time they do the job. The boys have found pride in doing what they can and have learned to ask for help with what they find difficult. Daniel is just starting to dust and needs help with high shelves and Raymond has started using the vacuum to do the floors in his room and the hallway. I am at the point where I closely supervise these activities, but I am happy with however the results come out. I will tell Daniel what a great job he did using theSwiffer on the end tables and his dresser, and I will lift him or help him balance on a chair to do higher surfaces. Raymond is getting good about maneuvering around furniture. We just recently bought a lighter vacuum cleaner and he has had much more success with the job. Daniel can pick up toys on his own, but needs help with making his bed and brushing his teeth. Raymond does a good job brushing his teeth, but still gets them inspected daily before he goes to bed.

I have memories from a young age watching my mom preparing food, washing clothes with a ringer washing machine and sewing clothes. I learned how to shape dinner rolls and crescent rolls by watching her do it many times. Some of the things I learned were learned simply by watching. My mom would also explain to my sister and I how to do a job when we first got the assignment. I remember well the lesson of how to wash drinking glasses and other dishes. There was a method to each one as well as to the order in which they were washed. Coffee cups, drinking glasses and tumblers were washed first. The step by step for each one was to immerse it into hot soapy water, put the dishrag into the bottom of the glass and move in a circular motion to get out anything on the inside and bottom of the glass. Next I was to take the washrag and pinch the drinking surfaces of the glass and turn the glass in my hand until the part that touches peoples mouths was cleaned all the way around. And last was washing the outside of the glass after putting the washrag freshly into the hot sudsy waster and squeezing it onto the outside of the glass , dipping the whole glass in the water and then closely inspecting it for no sign of previous use before setting it aside for the rinse. I remember about fifteen or twenty years later I was at Mom's house washing up a load of dishes after she had cooked a meal. She watched me washing the dishes as she was rinsing and drying. She commented on how I was really good at washing out glasses. She had forgotten the lesson she had taught me, but it had served me well. And thinking back to those memories of my mother, and other important people in my life, teaching my how to do the things I needed to know by working alongside me, showing me how to do things and not expecting perfection from me as I was learning, have made me able to pass that tradition down to the people in my life that are learning new things.

My mother has been taking care of my grandmother for several year. Over three years ago, my grandmother had a hip replacement and has really needed around the clock companionship. My mom has been the primary help for my grandmother. She has learned to carve out time to spend on things that do not tie her to the house. She meets weekly with her sisters to scrapbook and visit while my sister stays at the house to make sure Grandma doesn't worry about Mom being gone. Once a week Mom has began to have respite help come in so she can go out for an afternoon without having to worry about Grandma.

I know that as I pass tasks on to others, the hope is there will be a time where the close supervision is no longer necessary, but those taking on each job that frees me up to do other things deserve thanks for their effort and a job well done. I also know that doing my thing while the delegated job is happening makes it all the more evident at how much I needed to delegate that job in the first place. If I were reading a book while someone was scrubbing my kitchen floor, it may appear that I really don't need the help after all. But if I were organizing the pantry, or shopping for groceries at the time, then the job delegated would be justified. Of course if I were paying someone to do my bookkeeping or wash my windows, I would think that payment was the justification for whatever I used to fill my time.

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