This past month has been tough for our family for many reasons. There’s been a few shocks, uncertainty about the future and the aftermath of emotion related to such things. We’ll be okay; we’ve weathered many storms before and have learned to be resilient. During dips in family life, I notice three main things that happen in family life.
Three things I notice when we go through a dip in Family Life
1. Reactive rather than proactive behaviour
I’m reactive with the kids (rather than proactive), my husband and I are reactive to each other and the kids bicker more. I also find that I can easily focus on the negative in the kids.
2. Unhelpful self-preservation tendencies
My husband and I are (very) different, and this is a good thing because we compliment each other. It can also be a difficult thing because the way we handle things are at polar ends of the spectrum.
When things are stressful, I tend to micro-manage everything in my life (I talked about how I actively choose not to do this here). Micro-managing is my way of coping when things are tough. It’s not an edifying trait, but it tends to be my default position when I’m trying to get through. In a rather warped way, I figure: if I can account for everything and everybody in my life, I can anticipate, and then compensate. That is how it plays out in my head but it never works out that way because it’s not possible to control all the variables in life.
On the other hand, my husband copes with stress in family life by being laid-back and allows the storm to take its course. Can you see the polars emerging? I fight to win and he perseveres to overcome. Same, but different.
Now, I can write about these things here because my husband and I know each other well; we laugh about our differences, pull each other up, compensate for one another and look out for each other. Recognising our default positions and talking about it has to be an active thing, and it usually takes us a while to realise we are on a merry-go-round.
3. Family life isn’t fun
Last year when we went on a road trip, we realised how much we loved being together as a family, and how special our family unit is. After this last month, family life is strained and the fun factor isn’t there. Life doesn’t usually slow down to compensate for more difficult months, does it? So it can be hard to take the breather we all need.
While circumstances right now are in NO WAY extreme, cracks are forming, and if left untended, can grow into brokenness.
Three things we do when there is a dip in Family Life
1. We communicate
We come back to what we believe as a family, pray, re-group, and this gives us the wisdom for moving forward. My husband and I talk to each other about what we need, what we are feeling and how we can minimise the polar extremes in our personalities by supporting each other. I talk with people who I trust outside of my little family, and my husband does the same. We also talk with our older kids, acknowledging that things aren’t all rosy right now but how we are working on it.
2. We slow down
Life doesn’t stop for anyone but there are ways to slow things down. I try and cut out stuff in our life that isn’t immediately important. For example, that is why I haven’t blogged as often recently. When Life’s road is smooth, we can keep up the pace but right now, by slowing down, we have time to compensate for the follow-on consequences of a few bumps in the path we’re on. I guess it’s a bit like when you’re sick; the best thing is to rest so your body has a chance to get better. I see the same thing with family life; if we don’t slow down, it takes much longer to get back to where we were.
The other way I slow down is to invest time into enjoying little things as they happen. For example, practicing some of the 100 Ways to Love the Moment, going a little early for the school pick up to sit under a tree for a quiet moment with a take away coffee and walking by a local lake to look at the swans with my son.
3. We put positive times in our bank
As I type this, the kids are asleep. Before bedtime, I lay down on the sofa in our family room with all my kids perched around me while I read The Shark Book by Dr Mark Norman. After we read about each type of shark, we looked up YouTube for a video about the same shark on the iPad. It was a lovely, engaging time. In these harder periods, it’s especially nice to put some positive times in our bank.
Reading about the Hammerhead Shark and we then watched a short documentary on YouTube
My family is precious, and something worth protecting, investing in and nurturing. Sometimes, keeping family life healthy is more challenging, but we keep on keeping on by taking a little extra time and effort to mend the cracks. That’s all.