Adding kids to our family life is an immense gift! The unique person that enters our established normality brings joy and discovery as we learn who they are and how they fit into our family.
Figuring out how the family operates with the additional needs of another person can feel overwhelming and chaotic at times. For first time parents there is the question how will I focus on the baby and also get my life back to normal? When adding additional children questions of how will we manage to care for another child and make sure we don’t neglect our other children? How will we all get enough sleep, eat, have clean cloths, get to work and all our activities? When there is a major life interruption within the family – a vacation, holidays, moving to another city, sickness. With kids minor to major interruptions can rock the established family structure and it can leave us asking how will we manage it all?
While there is definitely no magic formula for how to establish normality within family life, there is a tool that has developed in our family that has helped us figure out how to rebuild our day to day life when there are major changes.
We call it Back to Basics. It is a simple approach that has given us
* Focus and clarity
* Permission to let go of some tasks for a season – anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months to a couple years. Knowing we are letting it go for a season (and not all of eternity) has helped us relax. It is not forever. It is for a season.
* A pace to our new normal based on reality, not a self imposed timetable. When we were ready to move on, we added another element back to our life, but not before
* Reduced anxiety that we are failing – we are gradually making progress. Instead of adding six things at once and doing none of them well, we add one to three, work on it until we have a handle on it with kids and then move onto the next.
Back to Basics is simple. We
Made a list of the tasks in our life we wanted to rebuild
Ordered them in priority
Implemented the first one to three (depending on what the family interruption was)
When we had a handle on that one, added the next one
Continued through our list until we had reached every number
Our list looked like this
Meal Planning/Making meals
Hosting Small Group
When we had our babies people brought us meals, so we were able to focus on just spending time with the baby and making sure we all got enough sleep. When we moved across the country we didn't have people bringing us meals, but we were able to focus on the top three. We went down to the essentials and gradually added to our plate as we were able.
In the early stages of having a baby I recognize having a “handle” on sleep can seem hard to gauge. The reason we put this on our list was because we learned if we weren't prioritizing sleep for the whole family and started adding a lot of tasks we did nothing well. While we didn’t wait until sleep was “perfect” in our family to move on, we made sure when we moved on to the next task we weren’t neglecting the sleep we needed.
We have learned accomplishing tasks comes with a degree of nimbleness with kids. If we hold too tightly to plans we can neglect the important moments and relationships. But, if we have no plan we can wander aimlessly with no direction. Back to Basics has helped us make progress in creating a family life that works for everyone while leaving room for the reality of kids.