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Family stress is fun (except the exact opposite)

What To Do When The Whole Family Is Stressed

I read an article on interviewing a wife of three years about the biggest lessons she’s learning in marriage. She said that sometimes you have to carry each other, and how it seems to work out that when she’s going through a hard time her husband isn’t, and visa versa.

It was that way for me and my husband in the beginning, too.

But then…

…days came when both of us were stressed and not wanting to take care of anyone. Of course right around the time we learned how to overcome these moments, our children starting experiencing stress, too. Some days we become a family ball of tension, none of us wanting to take care of others and instead yelling at each other to get over their issues for our sake.

This is a lot of fun (except the exact opposite).

For instance on a given week we collectively have mid-terms, projects, friend issues, hormones, work issues, AND extended family problems. Each family member is good at keeping it together in public, but once in the safety of our home with people that are forced to live with us, we become miserable wrecks.

More fun.

So, to manage all this “fun,” here are some ideas I’m trying the next time we’re all wrecks:

What To Do When The Whole Family Is Stressed

Help Everyone Keep Perspective

Pay attention to the moments when everyone starts snapping at each other. Give a little extra grace and let others know if you need the same. Remind each other (kindly) that the stress will end and that you're all in this together. Work together--not against--each other.

Find Ways To Connect

Yes, everyone has too much to do, but during these high-stress times, make time to connect. Create a priority to have at least one meal together during the week. Maybe it’s a late-night family ice cream party. Create a family game night or watch a movie when there’s absolutely no time for it. When you can all sit together with no agenda, you remember you’re on each other’s side.

For our family, we need these moments just to remember we like each other.

Lighten Up The Situation

Sometimes when everyone in the family is wound tight, we all get too serious. For example, the other day all three of my kids got into the car after school and were super grumpy. I wasn’t having the best day either. Rather than stew in grump, I tried to lighten things up by dancing and singing along to the radio. It was so ridiculous that we all got howling. It helped immensely.

Get Everyone Talking

Too often in our high-tense seasons, we react negatively to our family members because they’re “safe.” We come home and take out our frustrations on the people who are not at fault. To stop this pattern, start with yourself and communicate what you’re feeling and why. Encourage family members to share the root behind their anger or bad attitudes. This not only helps everyone support each other, but also reminds family members that they’re not the source of the struggle.

I mentioned it before but grace is what we need to learn in high-stress seasons. The best action we can take to be more graceful as a family is prayer. When the moment gets to be too much, stop and pray. Tell the Lord you’re overwhelmed and ask him for peace.

Try it! The next time your family is in a highly stressful time, bring everyone into the living room and have five minutes of “scream time.” Acknowledge, “We’re all stressed right now--let’s just scream it out.” It’s so ridiculous that it just might help.

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