Life Coach Magazine

The Big Picture Perspective in Running a Household

By Writerinterrupted @writerinterrupt

The Big Picture Perspective in Running a HouseholdMy husband and I enjoy putting together jigsaw puzzles, but it’s been a while since we’ve done one. To remedy this, I picked out a grand thousand piece puzzle depicting a classic scene from Beauty and the Beast. (Hubby took this selection as commentary, but it wasn’t meant as such – honest!) Right now, we’ve completed about 15% of the puzzle, which is plenty to make a few observations.

First, neither of us went for the solid color pieces first. We started with the edges, of course, and then he took Beauty’s dress while I worked on the distinctive pattern of the wall. We’ve both done enough puzzles to know that starting with the easy parts makes the hard parts a little less daunting.

Also, he embraces shortcuts more easily than I do. When he found three connected pieces straight out of the box, he held them up to me, triumphant. “Score!” he said. To his chagrin, I admitted that I found attached pieces too – and separated them. This fits our personalities in general, as he is more focused and results-oriented, whereas I tend to care more about the journey than the outcome.

Lastly, we have different philosophies on The Big Picture. He likes to look at the box and use it as a guide, and I like to see the picture emerge piece by piece. It goes back to that results vs. journey thing.

Running a household feels a lot like putting together a puzzle: a Big Picture made up of a thousand interlocking pieces. It’s another puzzle that we’re working on, and like most things involving two or more people, personalities, and opinions, we’re both right some of the time. In light of our progress on the puzzle, I’ve collected a few thoughts on fitting the pieces together.

1. Tackle the easy stuff first, and break the hard stuff down into smaller jobs. Some people like to start with the hardest thing on the list, and I respect those who are able to do it. I like to bolster myself with a few easy wins whenever possible, and the wisdom of reducing a big project into smaller tasks appeals to me.

2. Accept some (but not all!) shortcuts. Figure out what’s non-negotiable and relax about the rest. Spot-vacuuming? Okay. Lackadaisical dish-washing? Definitely not. My husband and I differ on the correct way to fold towels, proper loading of a dishwasher, and best practices for clutter management. Most of the time, done is good enough. Help that’s sloppy, incomplete, or “creative” still counts in the Big Picture.

3. Realize that there is a Big Picture, and that reaching it is not a single-strategy prospect. Whatever mix of spouse, children, parents, or roommates comprise your household, a few common goals will guide schedules, plans, and chores. For us, “always clean, never late” neatly summarizes our household objectives (although achieving that all the time is another matter entirely). Yours might include homeschooling, organic foods, frugality, or self-sufficiency, just to name a few approaches to home life.

In any family, everyone has his and her own ideas about how the pieces fit together, and agreeing to differ in approach makes a huge impact on everyone’s mindset about their contributions. Running a healthy and happy household is a matter of balancing between keeping a Big Picture perspective, or looking at the box, and taking each day as it comes and watching the scene take shape.

Your turn! What’s in your Big Picture?

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