This week, Monday hit us all hard. I slept through my alarm and my internal clock fought the time displayed on my iPhone, the kids had to be pulled from their beds and they wrestled with time too, certain it was too early. Once we were out the door, the entire day still felt “off.” It really all started on Saturday night as my husband and I walked through the house and set each one of our clocks an hour ahead. We had prepared ourselves to spring forward, and even made it to church on time, congratulating ourselves on a job well done this year. But by Monday, the effects of this one small shift seemed to be lingering, and not in a good way.
Small changes in other areas of our lives often do the same thing. We add one new activity to the weekly schedule, take one more trip, or host one more party, and the scales tip. We can adjust to our new rhythm, but rarely without a few days of feeling dizzy and displaced. New seasons of parenting can have the same affect. Just when we think we have things figured out, our children grow into a new phase, or our circumstances change. Its easy to stay in our old mindset, just like its easy to continue to set the time we must wake up by our internal clock, but as parents, we have to be ready for seasons that force us to expand or pull back, to spring forward or fall back.
When we sense things start to change, even in small ways, we need to understand that the effects will linger and be ready to face them as a family. Often times, it means that the way we parent changes a little too. If you are entering new seasons with your children, consider these three principles as you prepare to adapt.
1. Its Okay To Change the Rules
Recently, our family moved from a large urban area to a smaller city without access for our children to use public transportation. In our previous home, a cell phone was a requirement for our older elementary and middle school children, for safety and communication with mom and dad. Now, however, their purpose is a little obsolete. So, we recently decided to change our family rules about the freedom of using technology to accommodate our new culture and what we believe is best for our kids. If something no longer works for your family, you can change it! Talk to your children about your reasoning, and let them know how much you value them in the process. Include their insight and perspective in discussions and decision making, but also walk freely in faith and know that whether you are pulling back or expanding privileges, its okay to change your mind.
2. You May Have to Change the Most
When our children were ready to drop their naps, I struggled more than anyone. I didn’t adapt at first, and it led to many an unhappy afternoon of ushering them back to their bedroom again and again and again…all to have them never fall asleep day after day. I was so set in the way we did things each day, it took me a while to realize that it was actually my expectations that needed to change. Once I stopped trying to get our daughter to sleep, I was able to guide her into a sweet quiet hour of reading in the afternoons instead. Is your current frustration perhaps a sign that your expectations need to shift too?
3. Consider if God is Asking You to Trust Him
Sometimes walking into a new season of parenting means that we must learn to trust God anew with our children. Our oldest child travelled internationally without us this summer for the first time and it was a delight to watch her flourish as she traveled on her school mission trip! Back at home though, and for many months before, my husband and I had to prepare to let her go. We had to be ready for a shift in our parenting where we were not with her every day and trust God that he had called her, equipped her and was protecting her when we were not by her side.
Wherever you are in your season of raising your children, God is ready to lead you, to guide each step and every change, even the small shifts that may throw you for a loop at first. May you know his love and presence as you serve and love your families,