It is often said that ‘change is the only constant’, ‘that nothing lasts forever’ and that can be a bittersweet sentiment when it comes to family life.
On the one hand, the passing of time and the rate of change in a family can be so fast. From the early days at home with our wee bundles who are totally reliant on us for their wellbeing and survival to the widening boundaries and freedoms of the later years, there are so many adjustments for each member of the family to make. And once we get the hang of things, it is time to move on. At times we can feel as though we are barely keeping pace with the various phases and stages that our growing families pass through. And adapting and adjusting to all the changing needs and demands of a growing family can be stressful and overwhelming.
On the other hand, each phase and stage can itself seem to go without end. Before my two boys headed off to primary school I clearly remember feeling as if the pre-school days would last forever. We were living in a pre-school wonderland where around every corner was something new. On most days that was a blessing and on the others it truly felt like a sleep-deprived curse, for them and for me. But in hindsight, which is of course 20/20 – those precious days really did fly by. And I for one have been changed by all of them for the better.
Without doubt, parenthood is transformative in every sense of the word. There are few endeavors that will challenge us to grow, stretch and change as much as parenthood. But regardless of the changes we experience along the journey, either individually or as a family, we must all learn to adapt to and manage the process of change and I have outlined six steps below that we can take to embrace the changes in our lives.
1. Cultivate a Positive Attitude
Like the cycles and seasons of nature, change will remain an inevitable and constant feature of family life and we are best served by developing a positive perspective towards change.
By viewing change as a positive force for growth, development and progress in our lives we diminish stress and reduce our fear of the unknown. We are also more likely to make the most of the possibilities that present themselves and greet the inevitable changes in our family as opportunities as opposed to threats.
2. Accept your Current Reality
Some of the changes our family will experience along the way will be welcomed with excitement. Some changes will be unexpected and unpleasant. And others may be downright ugly. However, most will be filled with mixed reactions and emotions and that is ok.
The transition from career woman to domestic goddess was one of those changes that evoked mixed emotions for me and I can honestly say that it took a while for me to begin to find my feet.
Unfortunately, when we engage in resistance and denial it prevents us from moving forward and can be a major drain on our time and energy. Therefore, another key to embracing change involves acknowledging and accepting the way things are right now.
When we truly accept things for what they are we are able to consider possibilities and make choices regarding where we want to go from here.
3. Keep things in perspective
On the good days, we are able to handle every curve ball that comes our way without batting an eyelid and surf the waves of change with the greatest of skill and grace. But on the off days, when we are running late for the third morning in a row and discover that our child has left their lunchbox on the bench it can feel like a disaster of Titanic proportions. During these times especially, it is easy to lose our perspective and begin to build mountains out of molehills.
When keeping up with all the changing demands in our lives gets to be too much, try pausing momentarily to gain your breath and put everything into perspective.
4. Be Realistic
Of course it is important to remember that all good things take time and that the process of adjustment and adaptation to change cannot be rushed. Sometimes it is our expectations and beliefs that need to be altered to fall into line.
Whether the changes in your family involve the introduction of a new sibling, a return to the paid workforce or a new school there will be a period of adjustment and potential teething problems while everyone settles into the new rhythm of things. Be patient with yourselves and make sure that you have set realistic timeframes and expectations.
5. Prioritise Self Care
Competing and conflicting demands can reduce our ability to adjust to changes in the family by taxing our physical, mental and emotional resources. It is important, therefore, to prioritise how we spend our time and energy and to make sure that we are remembering to make time for self-care. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, non-essential tasks can wait. Have a bath, take the family out for a walk, put on some music or organise some time out with your partner or friend while someone else looks after the kids for a while.
6. Seek Support
The process of change can be as challenging as it is exciting. Don’t go it alone! Reach out for support and assistance when you need it and never be afraid to ask for help. Enlist family and friends or seek out a personal coach who can help you embrace the changes in you life and make the most of all the opportunities that are contained within.
Enjoy the Journey