You may be familiar with the expression, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”  If this is true, I must be insane.
Frequently, my husband and I pack up our family for weekends at a family camp.  We manage, most times, to remember everything and everyone. (The movie ‘Home Alone’ comes to mind.)  However, efficiency does not equate to less work – packing is a bear and often results in family discord.
This summer, when my husband was absent from one of our trips, I broke down from the stress.  If my three children had not been fighting and disrupting the clean-up process, I may never have discovered the solution before me.  Sobbing in despair during my self-induced time-out, it suddenly occurred to me that if I enlisted my children’s input in this routine, they would be focused more on helping and less on fighting.  Instead of randomly assigning chores as usual -(there’s the insanity)- I held an impromptu meeting.  Handing pen and paper to my 6th grader, I gave the 3 kids simple instructions:
  1. Form a list of chores that need to be done before leaving for the weekend.
  2. Divide the list fairly among the 5 family members.
Surprisingly, they accomplished the task quickly and peacefully.  I’m happy to report that we continue to use this list to streamline our family adventures.  No more whining, complaining, or arguing.  Why?  because the children had control of the process.
Giving choices invites cooperation.  When one’s feelings and preferences are taken into consideration, one can more easily embrace the outcome. Of all the things that self-esteem relates to, choice is the most powerful.  Having choices makes the difference between feeling empowered and disempowered. 
Bruce Feirstein said, “The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.”  Perhaps it takes a little insanity to stimulate the problem-solving genius within us. 
(1) Comment    Full Post   


Scarlett1939 on 5 September, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

What an excellent idea! I wish I had thought of it years ago when we packed to go camping. I will definitely give it a try the next time we take a trip anywhere! Thanks!

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