Last November, my husband and I made the decision to relocate our family abroad. It wasn't a decision that we came to overnight and we spent weeks agonizing over what it might look like for our family. We took everything into consideration, weighing the pros and cons. As we prepared for the move, we discussed the changes and adjustments we knew we were likely to face. But there have been others that we didn't quite prepare ourselves for. We knew this was something we wanted to do for our children and made a commitment to see it through. But change can be difficult and can test you in ways you never imagined.
Change is inevitable and takes time, not knowing how long the adjustment period might last. As you navigate your way through, you simply hope the distance to the light at the end of tunnel becomes shorter and shorter. When you are a parent, there is another layer to the discussion as you consider the well-being of the entire family.
I once heard someone liken parenting to being a flight attendant: if the plane is crashing and the flight attendant remains calm, it is likely those around will also remain calm. We take our cues from those entrusted to guide us. As we prepared for our own move, I was worried about everyone else. How will the kids adjust? My husband? Will our family and friends be OK? I realized I was spending so much time worrying about the people who would likely adjust more easily so that I wouldn't have to listen to my own fears. And by worrying about all of them, what I was really saying was, "What if I struggle to adjust?"
As you are considering everyone else, it is easy to forget that you have needs, fears, and things you may find yourself struggling with. But when you are the one standing in front of the proverbial plane, asking those on board to trust you, it is imperative that you address those fears head-on so you have the capacity to lead your family. I had to take the time I needed as an individual to lean into fear, realizing it was unwarranted. Doing so allowed me to be "Mommy" when the time came and we were ready to make the move.
We have been here now a little over three months. There have been many changes as we find ourselves adjusting to a new country, a new side of the road, and a new way of life. While it can be tough, we have learned a lot along the way. Here are some things to consider next time you find yourself and your family facing big life changes.
1. Stay Calm
Being a parent is like the flight attendant described above. It is our job to keep things in perspective. Sometimes this can be a challenge, especially as you are trying to find your own new normal. Staying calm, even in stressful situations, teaches our children to do the same. Life isn't always going to be perfect, but by remaining calm, you are showing them how to navigate through difficult situations with ease — a necessary skill that will carry them throughout their life.
2. Stay Positive
This one can be challenging, especially as things might not be working out according to expectation or the plan. It is important to be intentional and wake up each day with a positive outlook. Remaining positive during major change is a choice and something we all need reminding of from time to time. When facing uncertainty and change, it is even more important to set that example for our children.
3. Talk It Out
Carving out time each day to do a wellness check with the other members of your family will help you empathize with each other. What might be difficult for one person will be a breeze for another, and vice versa. By allowing all of you to put your fears and struggles out there, your children will feel comfortable talking with you about uncertainty, which in turn allows you to find a solution and grow even closer as a family.
4. Kids Are Resilient
One of the most beautiful things about the innocence of childhood is how resilient they are. People say it all the time — kids are resilient — but when you step back and watch your own children go through life changes, it is an amazing thing to witness. In fact, sometimes it's a lesson we as parents can learn from them.
5. Allow Yourself Some Space
Let's face it — we are parents, we aren't perfect. Sometimes we struggle. If you find yourself needing some space, take it. It is OK to be honest with yourself, your partner, and your friends and to learn to lean on them for strength. When the rough moments are done, extend yourself some grace for getting through it and move on.
Life doesn't come with any guarantees and changes are bound to happen. The important thing to remember is that as time passes, things will begin to look a little more normal. Soon you will be looking in the rear-view mirror, getting ready to jump over the next hurdle life tosses your way. Life can change on a dime. Embrace it.