By Janet Lund
Seasons of Change: Seasons are a part of life. Some are predictable, like the weather. We experience the present season while preparing for the next.
Other seasons may come only once or twice in our life: graduation, the birth of a child, or the loss of a job. The preparation time for these seasons varies. This often leaves us with a mixture of feelings including joy, nervousness, or even overwhelmed.
Our Year of Change: For our family, 2019 has been a year of change. These changes have varied in their degree of welcome.
We kicked off the year preparing our house of 13 years for sale. Our realtor had buyers within the first hour of the open house. We were happy to have a buyer but sad to say goodbye to our home.
February and March involved 20 days of moving into an apartment, plus selling and giving away 50% of our belongings. Letting go of our accoutrements, we felt both melancholy and relief.
Throughout the winter and spring, Joel experienced a health change — grievous back pain. This was scary and left us wondering if this was his new normal. Thankfully, he has mostly recovered. However, the injury is still something he is mindful of, daily.
In May, our daughter graduated from university. We nearly floated off the ground with pride as we attended her Baccalaureate and Graduation ceremonies. Sharing this moment with dear friends was a great joy.
In June, Joel’s mom passed away. We are so grateful for her 98 years but still grieve her passing.
In July, I started a part-time job (in addition to being self-employed). It was immensely fun work…until the physical requirements of the job aggravated old injuries and horrendous chronic pain returned. It was scary to be in that much pain again. Physical therapy is helping me slowly heal, and I hope to work there again.
This summer, our daughter has been applying for jobs to kick off her career. Goodness yes, another change is coming around the bend.
So much change in so little time.
4 Keys to Weathering the Storm of Change: Change is something we all experience in a variety of ways. As change impacts our family, it’s important to make time to adjust together.
We would not have been able to weather these many changes nearly as well if we had not done four critical things.
1) Create Space for Open Communication. No matter how difficult the change, it’s important to take time to talk about it. Discuss what is happening, why it is happening, and how each of you feels about it. Doing so makes the transition (or adaptation) smoother.
Providing a time and space for your child to share will help them understand what they are feeling. If they have trouble finding their words, give them some paper and pens to list their feelings. If your child is not old enough to read or write, encourage them to draw a picture of their feelings.
Expressing their feelings will help them understand that no matter how big their emotions feel right now, they won’t be overcome by them or feel that way forever. Instead of being scared stiff from their emotions, they will learn to be curious and flexible.
Talk about your own feelings. This will help your child understand what you are feeling too. They will also learn that it’s not unusual to have more than one feeling at a time. As you share regularly with each other, your child will also see how feelings evolve and change with time.
Sharing helps kids heal and adjust to their new reality. Doing this as a family provides opportunities to cry together, care for each other, and become curious about what is to come.
Use these moments to help your child understand that change is a part of life. Although sometimes change is painful, it can also provide for new opportunities to learn and grow.
2) On-the-Spot Sharing. Let’s be honest here — as a parent, change can really shake up your world. You bear the weight of responsibility for not only yourself, but your family. The stress of change can shorten your fuse and even push you to the point of yelling at inanimate objects (and other kinds of outbursts).
When you find yourself acting out your stress, it’s important to calm down and take a moment to hit the pause button. Do this by sharing what you are feeling. This will help your family understand the source of the emotion behind all the bellowing.
Show your kids how you can pause, recover, and keep moving forward. It’s important to keep talking about your feelings. Throwing in a little humor and laughing at yourself can also help everyone keep their cool during this time. We’ve done that a lot this year.
3) Keep Plugged into God’s Word. Read God’s Word together to remember all His promises. This is essential to riding out the storm of change. It is so easy to get caught up in the never-ending cycle of feeling overwhelmed or sorry for yourself when the changes are difficult, unwanted, or unplanned.
Psalm 77 is a great chapter to spend time in when going through difficulties. The first half of the chapter is all about “woe is me.” It’s entirely relatable! Candidly, this is something I can resonate with more than I’d wish. However, the second half of the chapter hits a very different tone. The writer’s viewpoint goes from inward to outward focus, from himself to God. It pivots from personal experience to what God has done and is able to do.
4) Keep a Victories Journal. Fuel the flame of hope. Help your family move from the “woe is me” spin-cycle to celebrating all that is good. Start a family “Victories Journal.” Gather together once a week, and write down your individual and family victories. Nothing is too small for celebrating. These positives will help feed your determination and keep you energized to get through the tough stuff, together. And they’re loads of fun to review months later, and full of encouragement.
Change is a constant part of life. Sharing our feelings, working together, remembering what God has done, and celebrating helps us to be grateful and trust that God is with us always.
Be Open. Be Honest. Be Reminded. Be Hopeful.
Janet Lund is a relationship coach who specializes in nurturing the bond between moms and their teen/pre-teen daughters. She leads moms through coaching, speaking, and songwriting. Janet has spoken and performed in Canada, the United States, and Norway. Follow her on facebook.com/momkeepcalm and visit her website momkeepcalm.com for parenting tools and words of support to be a calm mom.