Reconnecting with family after bringing my work and home life back into balance…
How hard could it be?
This is what I have spent the last year striving for. I have prayed, sacrificed, cried, made changes, scheduled, planned, and even changed clients when my work-life balance was askew.
I love my family. They are my world.
I have time. Finances are squared away. My work hours are set and are manageable.
Why is it so darned hard to figure out how to reconnect with my people?
These were the questions I started asking myself when I got my work life in balance.
Have you ever found yourself here? Oh the guilt! Good grief, why would this be hard? Shouldn’t it be obvious what to do? Shouldn’t they be excited to have their wife/mom/friend back? Shouldn’t I ENJOY this?
Reconnecting With Family
Oh my dear – this is where I found myself. I had spent over 6 years with everything in my life completely out of balance. My relationships were a mess. My house was a mess. My health was a mess. I had this fantasy in my mind that everyone would welcome me with open arms. I’d have lunch weekly with friends, I’d have regular date nights with my dear patient husband, my youngest daughter and I would laugh together, school would be a breeze, the weight would fall off, and my house would shine. Just like that.
When I tried to reconnect with my daughter I was met with attitude. She didn’t want to do the fun stuff I had planned and she certainly didn’t want to be forced to hold to a schedule I gave her.
When I started to clean my house the job became bigger than I ever imagined. For every one task I completed, I would uncover more that had been neglected and needed to be taken care of – it overwhelmed me.
When I started trying to eat clean and exercise – it was just plain hard. Too hard for the little reward I was seeing. I didn’t want to do it anymore.
And, my older kids had grown up and their lives had changed so much – reconnecting was not going smoothly.
At that point, I considered giving up. Honest. It all seemed so hard. It was easier to sit at my desk and work all hours than to face the reality of the life that had “happened” while I was distracted.
So I cried. A lot. And I ate a lot of ice cream. Isn’t it proven science that ice cream helps you process? And if it’s a big problem, some hot fudge syrup and peanuts are like brain food. I don’t regret it one bit.
I prayed, I read my bible, I tried to get past the feelings of helplessness, being overwhelmed, feeling guilty, and for wanting to give up.
It was during one particularly difficult day with my daughter that I had a moment of clarity and we had a vision about how to start turning things around. I had planned a day that I thought would be super fun. A really really busy day of doing and going and activities. She woke up a little off and came to me with a blanket and her stuffed animal to snuggle. I told her that she needed to get showered so we could go and do the things I had planned. I tried to sound excited but truthfully, I was bracing for a storm. She didn’t argue this time though. She just got up and quietly walked to her room. As I watched her walk away slowly with her shoulders slumped over, I realized just how sad she looked.
I asked her to come sit with me. She curled up on my lap and we started to just talk.
Here is the key:
I looked her in the eye and I listened.
I didn’t tell her what to think, what to do, what to say, what needed to be done. Nothing. I just looked her in the eye and listened.
Truth is, she had struggled too, and didn’t feel like she could share it with me. She was overwhelmed. She was struggling. She wasn’t happy. She felt like she was supposed to be happy with the changes in our family but it was hard on her little heart to suddenly have to eat foods she wasn’t used to and to be held accountable for her responsibilities, and even all of the fun things we were doing overwhelmed her because they were things I chose – not things she was asking to do. She enjoyed her TV time and was missing it.
We talked for a very long time that morning. She cried. I cried. We prayed together, read books, and shared our dreams. It was really good.
It was then that I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt unsure, but that we would be okay as long as we walked through these changes together. Listening. Sharing. And by continuing to push forward.
That evening, after she had gone to bed, I told my husband about our talk and asked him to share. He opened up to me as well and shared his challenges. I looked him in the eye and listened. It was really helpful to know where his heart was as well. He gently shared some things that were painful but true.
Since that day, things have not been perfect, but they have been so much better. We have vision, we have laughter, and we have each other.
If you find yourself where we were, my first word of advice would be to take one-on-one time to look them in the eyes and listen to them share. If they have a hard time saying it out loud, get a notebook for them to write in and leave under your pillow to read when they are not there. Or find an activity where you are both working with your hands. Sometimes it’s easier to share when your hands are busy.
Here are a few other things that have helped me along the way:
Don’t expect change overnight. Start with one or two changes you would like to see and implement them. Once you feel like you’ve got a handle on them, move on to the next thing. Remember, any steps forward are an improvement.
Cut yourself some slack
You aren’t going to be perfect. You will mess up. It’s okay.
Talk it out
Set some long term goals with milestones
When I started cleaning my house, I was totally overwhelmed. Now, mind you, it wasn’t gross. But the cupboards hadn’t been cleaned in a long time and my windows were filthy. There was dust collected on the logs, it just seemed like everywhere I turned there was more that needed done. I was frustrated that my house didn’t gleam after one week. After taking a step back, I decided to set weekly goals one room at a time. I’m still not done – maybe I never will be? But it’s a whole lot better than it was.
The same with my weight. I had gained 75 lbs over the past few years. I just wanted it off. But I was addicted to sugar and carbs and had little muscle. Smaller milestones helped me reach bigger ones until I realized I had lost my first 50 lbs!
And when all else fails:
Look them in the eye and listen.
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