It’s amazing how quickly this can happen. Your family is cruising along at optimum speed and turbulence comes out of nowhere. One kid gets in some kind of mood, makes a biting remark. The others are caught off guard and respond in kind.
The next you thing you know, sharp words are flying. They can’t stop themselves and as their mom, this all feels quite personal. Soon enough you spit out your own curt warnings because who are these kids? This is not okay.
Now we’re all offended and annoyed.
Training for the Heat
Limp apologies might be handed out at this point but the damage is done, the climate has shifted and the forecast is ugly.
These wild spikes in the climate of my home happen more frequently than I prefer. They are both unexpected and yet predictable. That’s the interesting part. I’ve been around this block long enough to know the routine and yet I often still feel at a loss to extinguishing the sparks before someone gets burned.
I was recently reminded of Michael Phelps’ triumphant victory at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Not only did Phelps become the winningest athlete in Olympic history during the 200M butterfly, but he did it blind. Just after the race began, Phelps’ goggles failed, filling with water, and he was unable to see the wall.
How was he able to continue on, swimming blindly and yet flawlessly, to set a new world record and take the gold? He had actually planned for failure. Practiced for it. He had swum in the dark before, training himself how to respond in the event of goggle failure.
There is wisdom in that strategy for us as well.
We cannot control when one kid will wake up in a mood that will threaten to set the house afire. Changing hormones, different ages and stages, and new and different seasons can have an intense impact on the people in our home and thus, how we relate. But, we can plan how we will respond. We can have some solid resources at our disposal that keep us from panicking, responding emotionally or feeling helpless.
5 Tips To Putting Out Fires in Your Home
Pray for present and future climate changes.
You can see it brewing the moment your girl wakes up, things are a bit off today. Pause right then and pray. As soon as you see the shift, someone is tired, someone is impatient, train yourself to stop and breathe a prayer for grace and wisdom to lead well. Begin a habit of praying over the interactions of your day before your feet hit the ground. He goes before you; ask Him to meet you there.
Check the posture of your own heart.
It is easy to go down with the ship, friend. Your husband is having a bad day and rather than being a source of grace and encouragement we get annoyed and add fuel to the fire. When our kids get combative and whiney we often become combative and whiney in our own way. Sticking with our airplane analogy, this is where we need to secure our own oxygen mask first. Repeat step one. Pause and pray before you respond and react.
Avoid unhealthy distraction.
Do not take the easy way out. This is too often what I crave in the moment “Oh my goodness. These kids are just too much right now.” And without even realizing, I pick up my phone and check out. There is nothing wrong with taking a break (hold on, we’ll address that). But giving ourselves to mindless distraction rather than tending to the real need in front of us is a failure to do the hard and holy work we are called to do. It’s tough, I know. I promise I want to run from it some days too, but this work is vital and it is our job to stay in the game. Not only are we failing to deal with the hard thing in front of us by choosing distraction, but we are also teaching our kids how to deal with hard things as well.
I’m not condemning your phone here. Don’t read that. But before you pick it up ask yourself the honest question – am I doing this, because I am running from the real work in front of me? If so, have the courage to put it down.
Declare a time out.
Timeouts are not just for the toddler stage. When the people in my home start bumping into one another, often what they really need is a break. We homeschool here so we are together a lot. There are real effects of too much togetherness, no matter what kind of schooling you choose.
Make everyone go on a walk. Play a family game of hide-and-seek (I promise you don’t outgrow this) or just put on some worship music and assign everyone to a different area of the house for 20 minutes of “read or rest time”, as we call it here. While some personality types thrive on these timeouts more than others, everyone can benefit from learning that sometimes friction is alleviated by space.
Resolve to laugh.
I don’t do enough of this and it’s my goal to do it more. It is easy to take life too seriously. Getting annoyed is easy. But just as sour moods are contagious, so is laughter. Decide right now to choose joy, to choose to be light-hearted a little more often. Laughter is good medicine for your home. (Prov. 17:22)
Let’s take a cue from Michael Phelps and plan how we will respond next time the climate in our home begins to rise. Think through the tools you have at your disposable to be an agent of grace, to put out sparks and become a purveyor of peace in your home. And no matter what, just keep swimming.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Katie, I Choose Brave
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.