A little while back, a reader asked if my kids feel about my food-waste avoidance efforts; do they think it’s dumb? Are they as enthusiastic about avoiding food waste as I am?
They don’t think my efforts are dumb.
And at the same time, here’s what is true:
No one in my house cares quite as much about food waste as I do.
So, this means that the bulk of the food waste fighting efforts at this house fall on my shoulders. I care the most about this, so it stands to reason that I will put forth the most effort.
Mr. FG and the girls do things like saving and reheating leftovers, of course.
And no one complains about eating banana muffins or overnight French toast or croutons or any of the other things I make to use up odds and ends.
But the actual putting together of random meal concoctions, planning how to use up freezer contents, reorganizing the fridge/pantry to highlight what needs to be eaten…that’s my territory.
And I am the one who will eat the last bit of cereal, the heel on the loaf of bread, the leftovers no one else wants, and so on.
I suppose I could get mad about this and indulge in a dramatic victim mindset: “Why am I the only one who care about food waste?”
<falls dramatically onto the chaise lounge>
(I do not, in fact, own a chaise lounge.)
The thing is, Mr. FG and the girls participate in the fight against food waste at a rather normal-person level, and that’s fine.
I don’t really think it’s reasonable to expect them to care as much or expend as much energy on this as I do.
If you care the most about something, you need to initiate/lead/work the most
This is true for pretty much any area of life.
While it is reasonable to expect spouses and children to go along/participate to a degree, the person who has the highest level of passion for something cannot expect everyone else to have that same level of passion.
If you are the person in the household who values adventure the most, you are going to have to initiate that the most.
If you are the person in the household who values a super clean house the most, you are going to have to work the hardest at that.
(No one else is going to notice the dust behind the bathroom door.)
If you are the person who values variety in restaurants, you will probably need to do the work of researching and choosing new ones.
If you are the person who cares about a meticulous lawn the most, you will have to take care of it the most.
If you are the person who values saving money the most, you can expect the family to stick with the budget, but you are probably going to be on your own when it comes to more extreme, high-effort money saving tactics.
How can I get my spouse/kids to care about this like I do?
And they can’t make you care as much as they do about other things!
But I do think that you can:
Expect what is fair
As I mentioned above, I do think it’s reasonable to expect some average level of participation from household members.
For instance, people need to do their laundry and clean up after themselves. But if you can’t rest until the brass is polished and all the ceiling fans are dusted every week, well, you probably need to handle those chores.
And in the financial realm, spouses need to stick to agreed-upon spending and saving guidelines.
But if you want to mend your joggers until they fall apart (hi! it’s me!) or you think it’s important to use every last bit of the toothpaste tube (also me), you’re going to be happier if you just make peace with the fact that you might be the only one doing those things.
So then you can just finish up the last bit of the toothpaste tube while your spouse starts the brand new one.
Be respectful of things that are just differences
It’s easy for a super-clean person to think of someone else as a slob (and for that other person to think of the super-clean person as a clean freak!)
It’s also easy for a saver to think of the other person as a profligate spender. And the spender can look at the saver as a tight-fisted miser.
But these types of preferences are usually just neutral differences, not problematic extremes, and seeing them as differences encourages kindness toward others.
(Obviously, problematic extremes need to be addressed. I’m just saying that a lot of differences are not problematic extremes!)
Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Agree? Disagree? How do you see this play out in your life?
P.S. As I was writing this post, I thought about how when I was a pre-teen, I wished we had more homemade bread in the house. So, I started baking bread. Problem fixed! I cared the most about eating homemade bread, so it fell to me to make it happen.