Who couldn’t use more peace in their lives, right? It’s something we’re all looking for more of. Especially with what’s going on in the world these days – so much coming at us, so much unknown, so much that’s hard to process for us as adults, so much that feels impossible to explain. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating.
With what’s happened in Texas and then other events in the news recently, it can feel like a full-time job for us just not to live in fear each day. I often think about that fine line between wanting our children to be aware of things going on around them and that people are hurting. But at the same time, when and how to protect them from news and information that could be traumatic for them and that they may not be ready to handle. So, how can we try to process all this information coming at us, a lot which can feel scary and sad, in a way that is healthy and also helps protect our family’s peace?
- Taking care of ourselves
As moms, it’s easy to let our mental and emotional health slide. It can be easy to slip into a rhythm of taking care of everyone and everything around us and neglecting ourselves. Especially when we’re talking emotions. We can worry about protecting our children from what we see as the harsh or ugly side of life, but we need to stop and ask ourselves, “am I allowing myself to feel anything about what’s going on around me? How am I managing? How is all of this making me feel? What do I need?”
So, when things happen, stop and ask yourself – how do I feel about this? And then I invite you to greet whatever emotions are coming up with compassion. Maybe it’s sadness, maybe it’s anger, maybe it’s frustration – whatever it is, it’s ok. All our emotions are ok. All of them are normal. As animals, it’s what we do, right? It’s biological, and our emotions often make sense in our bodies long before they make sense in our minds.
The thing about emotions is that they’re just that, they’re energy in motion. If we’re feeling these things – sadness, anger, grief, – rise up and then instead of greeting them with compassion, we’re greeting them with judgment, we’re telling our bodies to shove that emotion back down.
There are a lot of reasons why, as adults, we often fall into patterns of trying to suppress emotions in ourselves. Here are a few:
- Never seeing our caretakers express sadness or anger in a healthy non-violent way.
- Not being encouraged as children to express our feelings in healthy ways.
- We were soothed or distracted from our feelings with food or tv or something else, so our emotions became something that wasn’t ok to face and that we should avoid.
When we don’t allow ourselves to feel these emotions, but rather we shove them back down and recycle them, our suppressed emotions can lead to anxiety which can lead to coping strategies that aren’t healthy. Maybe you recognize some of these coping strategies in yourself:
- being “strong”,
- toxic positivity,
- putting on that mask of “I’m fine” when you’re really not,
- playing the victim,
- living in denial,
- turning to alcohol or drugs,
- numbing activities like watching tv, scrolling, working too much.
If any of this is resonating with you and you’d like to explore some ways and new habits you can form to start expressing these emotions in a healthy way so you can feel, deal, and heal, reach out to me. Fill out the coaching application form on my website and book a short discovery call with me free of charge. If you’re ready to tackle some of this stuff – if you know you’ve been putting it off and you don’t feel right – we’ll do it together because this is important.
We want to be able to show up for our kids when we’re discussing really hard things with them. We want to teach them how to manage these big feelings so they can feel, deal and heal and find that peace. ANd one of the best ways we can start is by first doing that work in ourselves
2. Am I protecting or am I preparing my kids?
We can’t focus on filtering out all the bad, scary, sad, or uncomfortable. Nor should we want to. Because while our instinct is certainly to protect our children from all the ugly sides of the human experience, the reality is that we can’t be there to always protect them.
Rather, we want to embrace these opportunities to help prepare them to deal with this kind of information in a healthy way. Something I’d heard awhile back that’s become a good reminder for me when I’m deciding what to discuss with my kids, is that in our family, we value truth over comfort.
It might be really uncomfortable, but we’re going to have difficult conversations. We’re going to grapple with parts of life that don’t make us feel good. We’re going to be aware of some tough things to wrap our heads around, but we’re not going to have to process any of it alone. Because the truth is that our kids need to develop the skills to be able to engage with tough topics. And this is something that needs to be learned. So how can we talk to our kids about tough things in a way that isn’t traumatic for them, but rather in a way that helps them explore these topics and how it makes them feel and allow them to release whatever emotions arise?
First, we want to do an assessment of what we think our children are ready to discuss. Rather than asking yourself, “is my child old enough to talk about X?”, ask yourself “does my family talk about difficult things and how can we start to do that more regularly?” Use that as your gauge. Because if your family regularly discusses difficult things, your child regardless of their chronological age, may be ready to discuss something really sad or scary.
Before you really start sharing, you can check in with your kids and find out what they already know. They may have already discussed it in school, or heard some friends talking about it, or saw a headline on their social media. So, you can check in and tell them broadly without any details and ask what they know about it. For example, “there was something that happened at a school in Texas – have you heard about that? Do you have any questions about it?”
You can answer their questions honestly and stop and check in. Give an answer and ask them – how does that make you feel? And you can encourage your kids – let them know that all their feelings are welcome. It’s ok to cry. Reassure them – I’m here for you. This is so important because feelings aren’t overwhelming when we have a partner in feeling them.
We want our kids to have experience in feeling all the feelings. We want our kids to learn to feel sad or angry and how to express that in a healthy way. Feeling doesn’t go away as we enter adulthood! We can’t learn to manage the emotions if we’re not encouraged to experience them in a safe space. When we teach our kids that we’re not scared of their feelings, they learn not to be scared of their feelings or the feelings of others and they can grow in empathy and compassion.
3. Continue with routines (or create new ones)
Routines helps kids feel safe and secure in their environments. Routines can help create a calmer household because everyone knows what’s happening and what to expect. This reduces stress and anxiety and promotes peace. There is security in routine and knowing what comes next. The simple things – when we eat, when we play, when we clean, etc.
In our home, our morning routine is really consistent, and it starts the day right for us. I’m always the first one up (sidenote, this is one of my greatest motherhood hacks – make sure you’re waking up before your kids! Even 15-20 minutes earlier gives you alone time to think in peace before everyone gets rolling). You can learn more about my 5-step morning routine here.
When my kids do get up, they come join me on the couch for some snuggles. We just talk and hang for a bit and ease into the day. Some morning’s they’ll play for 20-30 minutes. When Jeff gets up, the first thing he does is put on worship music which really makes the house feel so peaceful in the morning. And then everyone gets dressed (they both wear uniforms so that makes it a little easier) and washed up and while they’re cleaning up and getting ready, I make them breakfast. While they’re eating, I usually go work out and get ready myself ready. Then, they grab their lunches out of the fridge that we made the night before, they put it with their water bottles in their backpacks, they grab their masks, and we’re out the door for school.
Another routine we have in our home to protect our peace is mealtime and bedtime prayers. If this is something you do in your homes too, this is a great opportunity to teach your kids to take their fears and worries to God in prayer. If they’re really young, they can hear you model these types of prayer, and if they’re older, you can teach them to cast their cares on God and ask for peace.
Alright Mamas, let’s pray over this week ahead:
We pray for peace over our homes and families this week, God. As we surrender our families over to you and place our kids in your loving hands, give us peace knowing that you’re right by their side. Replace our children’s fears with strength and courage to face whatever the day has in store for them. We ask you to transform our thoughts, help us recognize when our minds are getting the best of us, and to help us replace our thoughts with your truth.
Sometimes it’s hard to cast our cares to you and fully let go of our stress and anxiety, especially with so much going on in the world around us that can feel scary or like we don’t have control over our lives, but in those moments help us to pause and remember that you’re always in control – yesterday, today and always.
We know that our thoughts are not your thoughts God, and that our ways are not your ways. When we feel alone, or confused, or stressed – give us that inner peace that only You can supply. Put Your peace in our hearts when we’re worried or when our mind is racing. Bring us a sense of calm Lord – slow us down so we can remember your truths. We know that it’s often in the most challenging times, where you’re most at work in and around us. Give us a heart of wisdom to hear your voice amidst the anxiety lord.
Make us strong through you. No matter what we’re worried about God, we know that you are bigger and more powerful than anything causing us anxiety. So, we bring it all to your feet Jesus. We trust you Lord, and we put our worries in your hands so we can embrace the peace you offer us. We love you Lord, we’re grateful for you, and it’s in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen