Parenting

Got To, Get To - Change The Way Your Family Thinks


I recently heard a story that has literally changed the way that I, and my family, think about life. The story is as follows:

There was once a high-powered woman in her 30s who ran her own company and was massively successful in business. Yet every single day, at 10am, she visited her elderly mother, who was in an old peoples' home. When asked if she could attend meetings at that time, she would reply, "I'm sorry, I've got to visit my mother". She sometimes resented the commitment and was occasionally ridiculed, but nevertheless answered, "No, I'm sorry, I've got to visit my mother."

One day her mother died. Soon afterwards she was asked if she could make a meeting at 10am the following day. She started to reply, "No, I'm sorry, I've got to visit my mother", but of course quickly realised that this was no longer the case. Sadly, she realised that for many years she had been saying, "I've got to visit my mother" when what she

should have instead been saying was, "I get to visit my mother". She would never "get to" visit her mother again.

So how does the story relate to other situations? I have been surprised by how many times the story has seemed appropriate since I heard it, just a few weeks ago. It applies to so many different aspects of family and working life, from the large to the mundane. For example, I first told my son the story when he was complaining about some extra French classes he was having at weekends ("I can't believe I've got to go to the French tutor"). I explained that he is lucky to "get to" have the French classes: lucky that we care enough to notice he needs them, and lucky that we can afford to pay for them.

I thought of the story last night when my little girl was using every delaying tactic in the book about going to bed, and just refused to settle down. I caught myself thinking, "Oh no, I've got to go upstairs, miss the end of the television show I'm watching, and calm her down and settle her into bed" ? but quickly replaced the thought with something along the lines of "I'm lucky that I "get to" spend 5 quiet minutes with this funny, amazing little girl, even if I am tired and could do with some rest!"

And I thought of the story again just this morning when the beeper on my tumble dryer annoyed me into emptying my clean washing! I turned some very negative, lazy thinking around by reminding myself that I was lucky to have a tumble dryer, the clothes to put into it, and the family to be washing them for! It was still a chore but somehow it didn't seem such a bad one anymore.

My husband reminds himself of the story when the alarm clock goes off early in the morning and he struggles out of bed and to the train. He "gets to" go to work. Many people don't. And I think of it when I am sitting, uninspired, in front of my computer, wishing that I didn't have admin or website chores to do for Activity Village. The thought doesn't last long. I may have admin and website chores to do, but I also "get to" provide activities and inspiration to parents, teachers and children around the world every week. How lucky can I be?

Lindsay Small is the creator and editor of Activity Village.co.uk - providing the ultimate one-stop resource for parents and teachers looking to educate and entertain their kids. Visit the website at http://ww.ActivityVillage.co.uk or subscribe to the free newsletter at http://www.ActivityVillage.co.uk/free_newsletter.co.uk


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