Parenting is hard. Let’s face it, kids don’t come with a handbook and just when you think you’ve got things down, life throws a curve ball at you. Maybe you have a job change and you need to move or your lease got too expensive and you need to find a new apartment. Maybe the world around you changed and you’re just trying to figure out how to raise your kids through it all.
Have you ever wondered how to parent through change? It’s not easy. Routines get upended, kids get cranky, parents get crabby, and the stress can overwhelm everyone.
The past six months have been weird. I mean really weird. Shutdowns, lockdowns, new ways of shopping, and through it all let’s face it, if you’re like me you’ve been just trying to be a good mom so that the kids don’t have to feel the impact as strongly.
Every parent is different and every child is different. We made the decision to be pretty open and honest about what’s happening in the world with our kids. They don’t hear everything, but they have questions like: “Why can’t we go to the library anymore?” and “Why is that playground closed?”.
They wanted to know why we couldn’t do laser tag and Chuck E Cheese for their birthdays. And it broke my heart to explain how things just aren’t the same right now, but it doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy life together.
Parenting through change, any change takes a few key things:
- Prayer. Use prayer to connect with God, gain peace, and get direction on how much info to share and when to share it with your children. If you’re not into prayer, maybe meditation or mindfulness is more your style.
- Take a different approach with each child. My kids are so different from each other. My oldest needs lots of time to process any big change. When we moved to a new state, we told him what was going on six months in advance. There were lots of tears about missing his friends, but it was so important for him to have the time to process, to make a “bucket list” of fun things to do, and be able to say goodbye. My middle child just needs to know that all her stuffed animals get to come.
- Build a bedtime routine. Even if all your other routines are thrown out the door, some sort of bedtime routine can help create a sense of peace, safety and security for your kids. My children love to listen to worship music at bedtime and read stories. We also do bedtime prayers and so our routine; no matter what changes are happening; always includes those things.
- Give everyone grace. Including yourself. You’re not going to do it perfectly. But whatever changes you’re experiencing in your family, you all need a little grace. The kids might be more emotional, you might be more emotional, but you can all get through it together.
- Don’t self-medicate. With food, with drugs, or with alcohol. This isn’t to judge anyone who enjoys a glass of wine, but I know of people who used alcohol to cope with major life changes and it didn’t end well. Take care of yourself. The food one is also big trap. I know from experience, that “just a little extra” can become 30 pounds gained from stress eating for 6 months. Eat well, drink well, and take care of your health
- Get good friends. You need people who can encourage you through change. You need people you can call when you have a tough parenting day. You need people who won’t judge you and who will love you.
- Have fun. Change is hard. It’s harder when you stop having fun with your kids. Have a movie and popcorn night, play games together, and just spend time with each other. The simple things will often be the most cherished things, so don’t forget to do them.
We’ve had a lot of change in our family the past few years. With moving cross country and changing our way of life to starting a farm, it’s been unreal. On top of that, 2020 has not been the year I expected. And through it all, staying grounded in my faith has definitely been the consistent thing that we needed. No matter what changes you experience, stick together as a family, and you can weather any change that comes your way.