“Seriously?” I said to Jeremy as calmly as I could.
“Yep. I need you to get out. I won’t be able to park if you don’t get out.”
Ugh. We were parking our truck in a very small, very full, very dark Chicago parking garage.
They never should have let us in the parking garage in our truck, let alone told us to go all the way to the basement level where there was only one corner spot left.
Talk about stress.
Jeremy was feeling it. I was feeling it. The girls were feeling it.
We were running within minutes of being late for our VISA appointment at the French Consulate.
An appointment that you just can’t reschedule. An appointment that HAD to happen. on time.
And we were stuck… literally… in a parking garage.
I got out of the truck knowing full well that I was absolutely the last person Jeremy wanted to direct him through the parking fiasco we were in. But I was all he had… and we both knew it.
No one was mad at anyone… we could just all feel the pressure.
No one was in the wrong… it just happened to be the situation we were in.
Stress. Family moments full of pressure and stress and frustration. Real life.
When I stepped out in the cement, I saw how close we were to a cement pole. And another car.
I looked at Jeremy through the window. I was incredibly thankful at that moment for a husband who can park anything anywhere.
The truck slowly backed up. Jeremy was yelling out the window, I was trying to make clear motions to him, he couldn’t see me well… I struggled through helping him get the truck backed into an impossible place. He let the girls out because once he parked, the doors were not going to open far enough to let them out.
That is how tiny this spot was.
He parked. Elayna was crying. Annalise and Abby were silent.
Stress and pressure can really cause havoc in a family.
So, how do you diminish the stress?
Sometimes you can’t take the stress away but you sure can do a few things to help everyone handle the stress in helpful, loving ways.
Teaching your family HOW to act and speak while under stress can be a huge blessing in times of crisis.
Here are a few things we do and talk about regularly. Because real life is stressful. A lot.
1. Grace – mercy. forgiveness. kindness. The theme of grace is something that will get your family through stress. Remembering to forgive, act with kindness, show mercy… the golden rule. Put yourself in their shoes. Acknowledge their feelings and their position and their experience. Grace. Show it to each other, especially in high stress times.
2. Compassion – take grace one step further and show love. Your family is on the same team. Even if you don’t see things the same way. Be compassionate and understanding. Show love. always.
3. Space – in high stress times, give each other space. If not physical space, then emotional space or relational space. Allow time to cool down, recharge, refresh… let your family have the space they need to regroup and let go and think about the moment. Have the grace and compassion to give space to each other. This will keep harsh words from being spoken or hurtful actions from taking place.
4. Silence – This goes hand in hand with space. Sometimes the whole family needs silence. Turn off the music, the tv, the games, the phones… quiet your hearts and minds and let God speak to your family. A perfect time to pray for each other, pray for peace in your home and pray for a solution to the problem.
5. Breathe – Honestly, teaching your family to take a deep breath in the midst of stress is such a good thing. Calm down, slow down, step back and breathe. Take a look around. Are you showing grace and compassion? Did you give space and offer a silent moment to think? Breathe.
Life is stressful and can be very hard for families to navigate.
Using a few simple tools like these can go a long way in diminishing stress.
A few tips for teaching these principles to your family:
– Teach these principles every day… not just during the stressful days!
– Make sure your family clearly understands some healthy ways to handle stress so that situations aren’t made worse by our reactions to the stress.
– When you feel the stress effecting your family, be sure to remind them to have grace for each other and to show compassion and to take a moment away if they need to. Remind them often!
– Does Mommy feel stress? And how to help.
Stress will come. But we can diminish it with our choice to offer grace and compassion. We can diminish it by walking away and taking quiet time to pray. We can diminish stress by taking a calming breath before we act or speak.
Diminishing family stress is not easy. But it can be done. And your family will be blessed as they work hard to help each other through the stressful times.
That day in the truck was very stressful. But we were able to make our appointment, stay somewhat calm through the process and have a great lunch together in the midst of the stress.
And that was just one stressful day of many. MANY days. with more to come.
What are some ways that you help diminish the stress in your family?