From time to time, I will see another post that just makes me said: When another leader reaches out for help on dealing with her non-supportive spouse.
Believe me, I was there.
It wasn’t just Scouts. I was Girl Scout mom, Cub Scout mom, social media volunteer, church volunteer…the time, all well-meant, was eating at my family life.
On the surface, you’d think, oh, as mom, you’ll be there anyways, so why not? And I still largely agree. But the prep work, the mental energy before and after, and the time away from family dynamics and frankly homelife took its toll, especially on my spouse.
After long conversations, I cut back. It was the best thing I did.
But I didn’t give up on my volunteering. What I cut back on was my commitment. We decided as a family that Mondays were sacred to us. Mondays, we would make every effort to be at home, for dinner, as a family.
Yes, it means I don’t typically attend my Girl Scout service unit meetings. (I hope my service team leadership realizes I still make the best virtual volunteer!) It means I keep my calendar clean for at least one night at home, and on those times where I can’t move a date, I make sure to communicate early on that Wednesday and Thursday we’ve saved for family.
I’ve even gone so far as to write “NO” in florescent letters across a day’s page in my planner. Just to ensure it stays free.
You know what?
No one has complained.
No parent has said I’m not doing enough. No leader has pushed back about why I don’t attend service unit meetings when I share my reasons why. And the husband’s complaints are far less.
Setting aside a committed day for family dinner made all the difference. For one night, we weren’t rushed. I love it. It was one of the best decisions we’ve made this school year.
Maybe your spouse is thinking scouts is cramping your family’s style. Here are some other ways to help manage expectations and gain support:
- Hear your spouse out. Is the issue that scout stuff is everywhere? You’re constantly working on projects or paperwork? If so, set aside a designated area and time to work on it. (And try to clean up after…my worst part, admittedly.)
- Set aside scout time – and stick to it. That may mean ignoring emails or texts until the morning. For me, I usually have a 30-minute window to send out messages first thing in the morning, before I get kids to school. It’s nice, because I have fewer distractions and a set end time.
- Involve your family. I try to do “family activities” as much as possible, because I know how precious time is. Having my husband attend concerts with the scouts and family campouts during the summer I feel has led to more buy-in the rest of the year, when he’s less likely to want to be around large groups of active, loud people.
- Accept some things may not change. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get my husband to attend a family campout with the Cub Scout pack, and I know with his personality he doesn’t deal well in scout meeting situations (again, large amounts of loud kids). But at the same time, he accepts I can do these things for our family. Balancing each other out is a great blessing!