In the last and next 30 days, our lives have changed pretty drastically. My husband started a new job, we moved from our first home in Wisconsin across town, my mom is no longer living with us, I am starting a new job after 12 years and after winter break, my kids changed schools. That’s a whole lot of life in a very short period of time. I’m not even sure what day it is anymore!
As we’ve begun going through these changes, I’ve thought long and hard about how we as humans deal with change; how it varies from person to person and how I as a parent can help my children stay strong and healthy when even I find that to be a challenge. So I’ve put together some pointers that have helped me, in hopes that should you find yourself in similar situations, they might help you!
- Talk about it! Don’t hide the fact that change is coming from your kids. They are smarter than we give them credit for. Moving? Changing jobs? Divorce? Family dynamic changes? They will hear the whispers, and they will feel the tension you are feeling. They can sense the anxiety or excitement and want to understand and be a part of it. Even if it is not a positive change, explain it to them in a way they can process at their age and make them a part of the conversation.
- Be inclusive. The kids might not be able to influence your decision, but they can be a part of it. If you are moving, talk about where you’re going, talk about changes they might experience and how it might make them feel. If they are changing schools, take them on tours of the new one. If you are changing jobs, talk to them about what you might do and ask them what they think you should do. This is a great time to talk to them about what they want to be when they grow up! If their relationship is changing, talk to them about what it means for them and ask them how it makes them feel. I tried to keep my kids involved in every step of the way when we found out we had to move. We looked at areas online, drove around different towns, and looked at school websites, you name it. I’m not sure if that was the right way, but it kept them talking about it and by the time the decisions were made, the conversations were much easier than when we initially started talking about it.
- When you can’t do it all, get help! Over the past few months, I put both of my kids in counseling, because as open as we’ve been with them, and as inclusive as we’ve attempted to be, I could sense there was some anxiety. And I have been experiencing it, too! I don’t have all the answers and found myself becoming short in my responses to the repetitive questions that I just couldn’t answer in the way they needed me to in order to feel comfortable. So we got help, and it’s been such a blessing. Both kids thanked me for the opportunity to talk to their therapist and often ask when they are going back.
Change is hard and inevitable! How we teach our children to work through it at a young age will help shape how they will handle change throughout their lives. As a former people leader, I can tell you who the people are that experienced a lot of change in their lives and take it in stride, and those that had very little experience with change. The ones who can work through change effectively were ultimately more successful. Those that struggled with change took a longer time to achieve the results they desired. I hope that with all of the change my family has gone through this year, my kids have been given tools that will help them be successful for the rest of their lives. Mostly though, I hope the change can slow down a little now and we have some time to feel settled.