I Don’t HAVE To, I GET To

I had to attend a conference last week.

(Part of the reason this post is late – sorry.)

Conferences suck my energy. Remember, I’m an introvert. You have to be ON all day long, and the day doesn’t end after sessions. There are afternoon receptions, dinners, and evening receptions. When I drop into bed at 10:30 – and I’m one to leave as early as I can – I’m toast.

Not to mention the prep work for a conference. The logistics of school drop-offs and pick-ups with hubby and grandparents when I’m not there. I leave the schedule in writing for all to see. I finish loads of laundry so everyone has the shirt and pants they want. I stock the fridge. Oops! Well, sometimes I remember to stock the fridge. 🙂

If all I focused on was the extra work, time, and effort – I would detest these conferences. But I don’t. It’s all about perspective. I try to turn it around.

27 - have to

Conferences mean I get out of the office. I reconnect with my clients face-to-face, meet some for the first time, and get to hear their needs first-hand.

I get to chat with colleagues whom I don’t see often and only briefly talk with on the phone.

I do no cooking whatsoever – bliss!

I get to pee in privacy and take a hot shower as long as I’d like. Hey, it’s the little things.

Rather than just a pain in my butt and a nuisance to my schedule, I try to look at the good side of these conferences.

The same is true for at home. How often do the words – I HAVE TO – enter your head and even leave your lips?

     I have to run to the grocery store. I have to pay bills. I have to get the trash out.

Every day things that…yes…HAVE to get done. But we tend to attribute these words to everything on the To-Do list.

     I have to pick up my kid. I have to take the kids to soccer. I have to help with homework.

When it comes to our family, our kids – I challenge you to turn this around. Instead of it being – I HAVE TO – make it – I GET TO.

Note: I cannot take credit for this suggestion, because I know I read it somewhere. I just can’t remember who wrote about it. Old age is the pits sometimes. So wherever credit is due, it’s yours, motivational writer!

This insight was so powerful that it kept invading my brain whenever the words – I HAVE TO – popped up. Now turning those words right-side up (positive thinking, people) has become a regular habit. If you can do this, it is a great new habit to make. With some life examples below, I think you’ll see why.

  • (Upside Down) I HAVE to play kickball with the boys. If I don’t, they’ll keep nagging me. This perspective makes me sluggish. I even ask my son to not kick it too hard so I don’t have to run so far to get it. Really? That’s the point of kickball!(Right-side Up) I GET to play kickball with the boys. It will be so much fun to hear them giggle as I chase them around the yard. I’ll get a little exercise, and they’ll get fun Mom for a change.
  • (Upside Down) I HAVE to pick my son up from the Y after work. Not that I look at this as a chore really. It just automatically ends up on the internal task list in my brain.

    (Right-side Up) I GET to pick my son up from the Y. I’m the first to see his sweet face and get his hug. I’m first to hear about his day. I get more out of my son when I engage with him one-on-one, and this is one of those times. If I’m busy thinking about the next “have to” on my list instead of “getting to” hear about his day, I may miss my chance.

  • (Upside Down) I HAVE to put my youngest to bed. This can be a tough one, not knowing what kind of night it will be. But if I go into it with this negative mindset, how patient do you think I am if he has trouble falling asleep? Not so much, I assure you.(Right-side Up) I GET to put my youngest to bed. I’ve been at work all day, and I’ve missed him. I get to snuggle with him and remind him of how much he is loved. I remember he won’t be this little forever. This perspective gives me a little extra boost when his cute little body can’t seem to settle down – not even in 30-45 minutes some nights.

Do yourself a favor. Try this out for a week. Track how often you say the words HAVE TO, and then change them to say GET TO as often as you can. See how it shifts the way you see things. Now, granted, some things can stay the way they are. Like, I have to clean the litter box. Or, I have to unplug the toilet. I’m not so sure those can be turned around. 🙂

But when it comes to your family and kids, focus on the time with them, re-connecting, and showing them love. Flip your perspective, starting with the words, I GET TO….

After all, our kids are so much more than a check mark on our To-Do list. Am I right?

Share one of your HAVE TO’s that you turned right-side up. It may help with someone else’s perspective, too.

BTW – I’m still working on, “I HAVE to make dinner.” If you have any tips for that one, let me know!


  1. ‘I get to pee in privacy and take a hot shower as long as I’d like’ …..I am so envious.


  2. Your children are fortunate to have a loving Mother like you.
    God bless you and your children. They are indeed precious!


  3. Let me know if you figure something out about “I GET to do laundry”, too! 😀
    I love this perspective! I have also read about it somewhere else, but it’s such an important shift to work toward! Love the perspective about leaving for your conference, too.


  4. For “have to make dinner” it can be I get to make food that my family enjoys and keeps them healthy. 😍


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