How do you deal with change? Unexpected and unwanted change? Some people thrive on change and delight in it while others baulk and dig their heels in. It is one thing to plan for a vacation or some kind of trip with anticipation and planning, but to have one thrust on your family because of outside forces seems very unfair!
One thing to do is to acknowledge the feelings and validate them. Take turns talking about what is scary about this situation. What seems like it will be the most fun as a result of this enforced school break and loss of an external routine? Discuss things that you and your family can work together to do to prepare to “hunker down”. What does it mean to “hunker down”? What can we do if we feel lonely or afraid? There are still resources out there even if we can’t go and do what we are used to doing. Each one needs to work together to create our new normal. One thing we have done is to have everyone write down several things they like to do on separate pieces of paper and put them in a jar. I called this the “boredom buster” jar and labeled it accordingly. We also have made one with different family tasks that need doing. That worked well as there are just things that need to be done.
We spent several years of our family life living in an RV and moving every two weeks. We lived on one income with a lot of prayer, and creative skill development. Moving 26 times a year, living out of color coded bins and mini chests was not easy and many people thought we were weird. Moving is said to be one of the most stressful things someone can do. I homeschooled our children while continuing to take them to their various therapy appointments. Often it was “car school” as we listened to “Adventures in Odyssey”, www.whitsend.org “Your Story Hour”, www.yourstoryhour.org “Classic Kids” or “Storybridges to French, German or Spanish”. https://www.worldcat.org/title/storybridges-to-french-for-children/oclc/20258068
Workbooks did not work with the vision challenges my children had so I had to find alternative ways of teaching them. I figured if Anne Sullivan could teach Helen Keller to read and speak when Helen was blind and deaf, there had to be a way for me to help teach my children.
In those days, there was no help through public schools for special needs. I had to figure it out myself. Prayer and “asking, seeking and knocking” and “doing the next right thing” was how I managed. Reading books, listening to Focus On The Family and “meeting” Cynthia Tobias through those Broadcasts, and others helped me find the door or window that we needed. When I hit a wall, I learned to turn left or right to find a way through or around the obstacle always praying fo God’s favor to help me help my children. The Serenity Prayer and The LORD’s Prayer are life lines.
Each diagnosis was a new “zigger” “zagger” in my expectations of how my life was supposed to go. My first daughter suddenly had her eyes turning in and out at 18 months of age resulting in the diagnosis of Strabismus. This led us to help and training from Dr. Nancy Torgerson https://alderwoodvisiontherapy.com/ for vision therapies and redirection on educational expectations. My son was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and ADHD at the age of 11. Dr. Torgerson connected us with a good psychologist who was able to do the testing we needed. http://www.fountaingate.com/services-counseling During the same time frame, my son Judah was diagnosed with Trisomy 13 and lived a very short but valuable life. We had a crash course in Genetics that very difficult and blessed year.
As a trained teacher, it was a blow to my self confidence when they did not meet the expected and assumed milestones. Relatives were critical and judgmental and refused to help often offering hurtful and damaging advise. We learned to distance ourselves from them and seek people who would encourage us. We chose to focus on the “LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. “ Psalm 121
One thing we did was every day ask our kids, “Where are you going to sleep tonight?” The response always was, “with you”. We had a nightly ritual of “I love you.” “I love you more”. “I love you best!” I love you better!” Sometimes we’d have to say “night night little toes” and work our way up all the body parts until we got to the head. Generally by that time, they were asleep.
We have a whole list of songs and prayers and blessings we used to remind ourselves that God is with us and for us regardless of where we find ourselves to be. Psalm 56:3 is one of my favorites, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You, LORD.” I like that verse because it acknowledges that we can be afraid and still choose to trust God with our circumstances and our needs.
We made a point of counting our blessings. We had a dry place to sleep, clean clothes to wear, a swimming pool, playground, sometimes mini golf and tennis courts, books to read, toys to play with, a picnic table to set up the sewing machine on to repair or create new clothes, or to dehydrate bananas and apples or other fruits and vegetables we got from the gleaning groups we belonged to. We had “school” to do and musical instruments to play and songs to sing. We met interesting people along the way who had interesting stories to share about panning for gold or of watching the coolies carry buckets of sand on their heads up the hill to pour on the American equipment when they were building the dam in Egypt. We had games to play like cribbage, Go Fish, Rummy Cube and many others to work on math skills and brain math. We had friends we learned how to make gecko key rings and Christmas Ornaments to sell and trade. We collected bottles and cans on walks and recycled them for the kids to purchase things they wanted or needed. We had access to the public library and could ask for help finding information on whatever we wanted to learn about. My children gained confidence asking for help and giving help to others.
Summer and Thanksgiving breaks at Cannon Beach Conference Center led us to much time learning about sea creatures and Lewis and Clark as we spent time at Fort Clatsop. Sometimes we’d pretend we were on the Lewis and Clark Trail or the Oregon Trail. We would try to copy how they did things. I viewed it as a fun way to learn new skills as we appreciated the work our ancestors did to find a good place to raise their families. Those skills are coming in handy lately.
What are some skills you are developing with your family as you navigage the “new normal”?