An Uncommen Blog

Make Every Night Game Night

gamenight

Here’s how a typical conversation with my kids on the way home from school goes, “so how was your day?” Response from my third grader, “Good.”

Response from my kindergartner, “Fine.”

And if I don’t press, that’s the end of our convo. The next 20 minutes we listen to music, the girls talk to one another, and that’s that. It’s not until we get home that my wife begins asking more questions that I hear stuff like, “our field trip was so fun!” or “Mommy, a boy in my class really hurt my feelings. He kept calling me names.”  

I get it, my girls have a special bond with mom, and she can ask the same question that I do, and often get a much better response. That’s common.  But I want to be UNCOMMEN! So we instituted a new game in our household that gets everyone talking and listening, and the best part is, Daddy made it happen.

We call it, “Q Time,” which stands for “Question Time”.  Sometimes in the car, or often-times at the dinner table, we start it up like this:

One of the kids initiates in their best pep rally voice,”What time is it?!”

Then we triple clap.

The kids cheer, “Q Time!”

Repeat. Typically only once, sometimes obnoxiously loud. Always with enthusiasm!

The rules are simple. Whomever started Q Time picks the first person to share something about their day, good or bad. Then each family member can ask one question to discover more information. As a family we are all engaging each person fully, giving them our undivided attention, and asking them more questions to find out what made that issue so good (or bad) that they had to share during our most awesome Q Time. I’ve been amazed at how attentive a 9 year old, 6 year old, and 5 year old twins can be to one another. It’s also here that Mom and Dad discover if there is something we need to talk to our children privately about. Q Time is fun. It’s almost always fun. But if it’s not for a particular child, that often means there’s something they are really hurt by or embarrassed about, which gives me and my wife the heads up that one of us needs to follow-up. We’ve been playing Q Time for over a year, and have noticed the need to have just a few of those one on one conversations.

For now, the kids are pretty transparent with one another, and I’m just ecstatic that we are setting the expectation that we regularly share about our feelings and what influenced our attitudes and actions throughout the day.  I didn’t really have that as a kid, but I’m determined to make it happen for my family.  More importantly, my kids are determined to be more fully known. As they get older, I’m sure we’ll have to change the rules of the game, as I’m sure pep rallies will be reserved for high school football games. Hopefully we’re laying the groundwork now that can be carried over to another creative share time as they get too cool for mom and dad, sigh.  I also pray that in the future, they pay it forward during their own family time.

Struggling to get your kids to speak up about their day, try making a game out of it. Come up with the rules as a collective, play consistently, modify as needed. Do something like this already,  please share with @UNCOMMENapp #UNCOMMEN. We’d love to hear!

written by UNCOMMEN Executive Director, Dee Lanier

 

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Give Her a Break

Kitchen

Give Her a Break

by Making Dinner Happen

“What’s for dinner?”

Hear those 3 little words every day for years on end and you’ll want to run screaming!

By any chance could that be how your wife feels right about now???

Even though I love to cook (or at least I did before I had to cook roughly 8,000 dinners for my family thus far!), a few years ago, I’d had about all I could take. I asked my husband if he could handle dinner just 1 night a week.

He heard me on how burdensome the planning, shopping, prepping, and cleaning up can be and so he took it on. Let me tell you, it’s been amazing.

And so… I thought I’d give you some food for thought (sorry – couldn’t resist!) on helping your wife bear the dinner burden:

1.Don’t wait for her to ask. If she’s the main cook in the family, she’s sick of it – guaranteed.

2. When it comes to handling dinner, surprises aren’t always good. If she’s already halfway done making dinner, you showing up with a pizza isn’t helpful – it’s downright frustrating. Make a plan ahead of time for you to do dinner on a certain night, or give her a call at around 3:00 that day – if she doesn’t have a clue what to make for dinner that night, she’ll love you for taking it off her shoulders and if she already has a plan in place, you were sweet to ask anyway and you didn’t derail anything.

3. Don’t just hit the default button. Takeout is OK sometimes, but frankly, she can place an order just as easily as you can. The real burden of handling dinner is taking into consideration health, budget, variety, and every family member’s likes and dislikes. Get on board with that – even if it’s just grabbing fajita ingredients or pre-made kebabs from the grocery store butcher or making omelets with some healthy toppings for everyone to choose from.

4. Even when you don’t cook, help her out with the planning. Thinking of simple, healthy meal ideas (in other words, don’t ask her to make a standing rib roast every Thursday!) is hugely helpful. After all, coming up with what to have is at least half the battle!

Oh, and lastly, don’t ask her what’s for dinner. Just don’t. Ever.  Instead, simply ask, “Can I help with dinner tonight?”

Written by UNCOMMEN Contributor, Deb Mitchell

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Listen to Her

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Listen to Her- No Quick Fix

I’m about to give you a front row ticket.  It might not be an NFL playoff game, but lean in and listen because you’re about to be the proverbial fly on the wall to a fairly common discussion in our kitchen:

It’s 5:30pm, the kids have all been home (aka climbing the walls) for hours, the house is an explosion of random kid junk, I’m making dinner and Josh (my husband) just walked in from work.

Me: quiet, withdrawn, washing dishes with “that look” on my face

Him:  “Something wrong, babe?  You ok?”

Me: “Honestly?  I’m super overwhelmed right now.”

Him: “ Ok….”

Me: “I mean, the kids have been running around like crazy people, the baby won’t stop whining, the house is a freaking disaster, and I just realized I don’t have everything for dinner.  I’m behind on orders from the shop, Zoe was really needy and I still haven’t planned for my meeting tomorrow.”

Him: “Ok!  Let me just go change and I’ll take the boys to karate and you can have a break.”

Me: “Great.”

I was truly grateful for his help.

But maybe you’ve heard the old “I don’t want you to fix it!  I want you to listen!” line a time or two.  Helping your wife and making her feel seen and heard are not mutually exclusive.  So my challenge to you is to go deeper.  Because that overwhelm your wife feels?  Or frustration?  Or sadness?  It’s a symptom.  It’s not the main issue.

Let me share three big problems that those emotions can stem from:

  1. Basic needs are not being met. Sleep, regular (good) food, hydration, fresh air, emotional and mental rest.  
  2. Too many plates in the air. Trying to manage too many things.  Not enough margin.  
  3. Inner hurt that isn’t being dealt with. This is the hardest one because it’s easy to cover up with other distractions, but it is the piece of sand in her eye that causes everything else to malfunction.

Listen, we’re all carrying heavy burdens.  You carry them too.  Maybe the fresh air your wife craves (maybe what you crave) is empathy.

When my husband takes the time to notice my day-to-day (including how I feel about those things) and seeks to understand it better, it changes everything.  

A few ideas that might help get the conversation going:

–”Hey, I know you’re working really hard and doing a lot.  Can we look at your normal day and see where we can make some tweaks?”

–”You’re so hot. 😉  But I can also tell you’re really tired.  Go take a nap and then we can talk about what feels overwhelming right now.”

–”You seem to come alive when you do ______.  How can I help you make time for more of that?”

— “I know that _____ was really hurtful.  Why don’t you tell me about that?”

I can’t promise that the path towards a deeper connection with your wife won’t ever get rocky, BUT the reward is great and worth every uncomfortable moment it takes to get there.

Written by UNCOMMEN Contributor, Dana Hartness

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More Compliments Please

30day

Hey, guys – you already know your wives want and need lots of verbal affirmation from you, right? That’s pretty much Marriage 101.

But, as a wife for more than 2 decades and a girl for a few more decades than that, I have to tell you that you still might have this one all wrong.

Yes, we want to hear that you think we’re beautiful. But we also need you to realize that telling us won’t convince us to feel beautiful, especially if we have body image issues. That kind of insecurity runs deep.

We’re really different from you guys when it comes to how we see ourselves. Studies show that about 80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance, while around 50% of men are totally great with theirs. That means it’s not what we’re seeing in the mirror; it’s how we’re framing it up in our minds.

So keep the compliments coming, but be patient with us.

It’s also unbelievably important that you compliment us on other aspects of who we are. Whether we’re struggling with self-confidence or not, we need to know that you see and respect what we’re doing in our parenting, our careers, our characters, our homes, and everything else we set out to accomplish. We need to know that we fascinate you in much more than just our appearance. And if you have a daughter, she needs to know that men love women for reasons other than how they look.

And we also need you to never assume that we know all those nice things you think about us. Say them out loud, please!

All of this comes with a caveat. Sorry! We’re complicated, what can I say? If you have underlying disrespect for your wife, no compliment can make up for that. If you don’t truly and deeply respect her intellect, her abilities, her drive, her accomplishments, and her love for you and your kids, you’ve got an impenetrable barrier between the two of you. If that’s the case, you need help in your marriage and your mindset.

What it boils down to is this: You can’t fix larger problems with compliments, but we still desperately want and need you to love us, to respect us, to think we’re beautiful – and to tell us so, out loud, on the regular.

Written by UNCOMMEN Contributor, Deb Mitchell

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Share Your Joy- Explain the Game

 

Share Your Joy- Explain the Game

football

A note from UNCOMMEN Head Coach, Dee Lanier:

Hey guys, if you’re anything like me, you really wish you were a mind-reader sometimes, and could simply “get” my wife. Even more, I wish I could not get in trouble for asking her whatever mysterious thing she’s thinking. I’m not a mind-reader! So to help us out, this month the Ladies will be coaching us up on some good tips on how to more successfully serve our significant other.

With a husband of 21 years and 3 teenage boys, I’ve logged a ton of time at practices and games.

Between them, my kids have played tee-ball, basketball, hockey, swimming, skateboarding, football, lacrosse, and soccer. It’s been a lot for this girly girl to keep up with and, admittedly, I’m not a great sports mom / sports wife – I don’t actually understand or frankly, like any of it.

No matter how much I love my athletic husband and boys, 2 things are abundantly clear at this point:

  1. Basketball is my favorite – and that’s just because it’s climate controlled.
  2. I will never ever in a million years understand offsides.

When it comes to my football-loving husband, I can’t truthfully say that I want him to try to explain the details of the game to me. On the other hand, I do want to show interest in the things he likes.

While I can’t really get into the games themselves, it turns out I’m ridiculously interested in the teams’ and players’ backstories. I recently discovered the documentaries and biopics on ESPN. They’re basically sports reality shows, but without all the crying and backstabbing of The Bachelor or Real Housewives of Anywhere. OK, so there’s a little crying (that poor kicker in The Four Falls of Buffalo!!!!).

From behind-the-scenes looks into training for the combine (yep, I know what that is now!) to rookies and their families gathering around the television on Draft Day, these shows make me really care about the players and their teams, which in turn makes me like watching the games with my husband. Who knew?!

Whether we’re actually involved in each other’s interests or not, my husband and I make it a priority to give each other freedom to pursue those individual interests. That means we don’t make each other feel guilty about spending time and a reasonable amount of money on them. We just make sure to balance the attention we give our hobbies with the attention we give each other.

By honoring each other’s unique interests, we keep ourselves whole as individuals and come back to our relationship refreshed and happier.

Maybe you can start with this week’s Big Game.

How’s that for a win?!

Written by UNCOMMEN Contributor, Deb Mitchell

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Center Stage

audience

The Stage

When is my chance on stage? When will people look to me for advice and consult? Heck, “Why won’t people listen to me?” Have you wondered any of these things?

Imagine you are going to a major conference to hear from the experts in your industry. You arrive to the main auditorium early (because you are a leader), and you sit down quietly to check your smartphone. As the time for the speaker’s address nears you look up and the seats around you are empty, but the stage is almost full. Eventually, a shoving match breaks out due to lack of space on stage, and punches begin to be thrown between those closest to the microphone. Crazy, right?

This scenario would be crazy, and yet, some of you feel like that’s happening at work as people try to get face time with your boss. Some of you are jealous of a peer who has started a business or received a great promotion. Some of you are amazed at a buddy who has tons of followers on social media. The Internet provided a stage of sorts. A stage without guidelines as to who qualifies as an expert and without security guards surrounding it to remove those who threaten to drown out or interrupt those that are ready to speak tested truths or display well practiced talent.

When will I know I am called to the stage?

Speakers on stage need an audience. In many situations, we would be wise to be the audience. After all, we’ve got two ears and one mouth.

Men, sometimes we can confuse our pride in our existing knowledge as a calling to leadership. However, the best speakers, authors, and leaders I’ve ever been around have a mentality that they are always learning. In fact, study the great leaders and you will find their ego takes a back seat to their effort.

Great leaders are crazier about their cause than they are about hearing their name called. Common advice is to take charge of your own destiny. An Uncommen approach would be to spend your time amassing knowledge, proving diligent to the little tasks, and serving others. If you can bring the energy to learning, diligence, and serving, you will be tapped for leadership or advice at the right time.

If not now, then what?

First, appreciate a season of preparation. According to most historical scholars, Jesus died in his thirties and had a ministry that lasted approximately three years. Do you ever wonder what he was doing for 30 years prior? John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach who won 10 national titles, coached high school for 11 years! You too can wait for the right timing.

While your waiting, focus your energy on crushing every task assigned to you and not having to be asked twice for something. Learn with vigor and accept responsibility with class. Engage your colleagues with encouragement; there are things you can learn from each other and when you are given a platform to lead, those relationships will benefit you most if you have practiced being approachable and servant hearted.

You need to be quiet and listen to be surveying for opportunity. When you stop worrying about how much you need to be heard, you will start seeing voids of leadership that you might one day fill. You will see an unfulfilled need that will be the start of your business. You will find out what your bosses biggest challenge is and solve it, leading to the promotion. You will hear mounting misinformation and be prepared to be the voice of tested truth.

If right now, then what?

If you have the stage right now, approach it with humility. Practice servant leadership and be approachable. Invest in a leader in waiting. Speak genuinely so you aren’t part of the noise. Elevate your cause more than your name. Bring maximum effort.

Final word.

When your ego takes a back seat to your effort and when your helpfulness outweighs your need to be heard, you will undoubtedly be tapped for advice and leadership. Get crazy about your cause and stop worrying about hearing your name called.

This week’s post written by UNCOMMEN contributor, Bill Hawks.

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