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"Keep life normal" by Sarah Damm (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: By Richard Huk, Flickr.com (2009), CC BY 2.0[/caption] My family is going through a major transition this summer: We are moving at the end of this month. Not to another country or state; just to another town. We won’t have to change churches or schools. In fact, we will be closer to most of our “life.” But this move is still a big deal. It’s still a huge transition. It’s very bittersweet. And it is hard and stressful on all eight of us. Living in a home that is in disarray is unsettling. Seeing your favorite things get packed into boxes is emotional. And acknowledging the many “lasts” in our current house is super hard. For example, we celebrated our last Independence Day in our neighborhood just last week. Because of this, we are trying to keep some aspects of family life normal and familiar, in the midst of decluttering, organizing, and packing. Having a few normal routines and familiar rituals is helping us through the transition. It is keeping us united, and it is encouraging us to support one another, especially when this move begins to stress us out. Here are six things our family is doing to keep life somewhat normal and familiar during our move. But these ideas could apply to any transition that life brings, such as a new baby, a job change, or a new school year. Six Ways to Keep Life Normal in the Midst of Transition: 1) Keep Holy the Sabbath. My family has been on a personal mission to honor God’s command to keep Sunday holy. It hasn’t been easy, and during busy times, it is even more difficult to do. But what we are finding is that attending Mass together and resting each Sunday strengthens us individually and collectively. Taking time to pray daily and keeping up with our weekly Rosary are essential habits to maintain, too. When we get off track, the stress increases and the charity among us weakens. Fr. Patrick Peyton was spot on when he said, “The family that prays together stays together.” 2) Trust God’s Word. During times of transition, it is important to trust God’s Word, which is steadfast, calming, and hopeful. Meditate on the daily Mass readings, even if you can’t attend daily Mass. Another idea is to select a Scripture verse to keep your family rooted in God’s love, truth, and promise. Write it on a whiteboard or poster board, and display it in a prominent place. Here are a few verses from which to choose:
  • “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • “It is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
  • “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) 
3) Enjoy Family Dinners. The last thing I want to do after a long day of decluttering and packing is cook dinner. But when I do, it is well worth the effort. Sitting down to a home-cooked meal (even if it’s simple), saying grace, and conversing gives us a break from the work and time to connect with each other. It is the perfect reset for the mind and body.  4) Build in Some Fun. Since our move is in the middle of summer break, we knew it would be important to have some fun this summer, too. It couldn’t be three months of constant work for any of us. So, as crazy as it felt, we still went on a family vacation for five days. We also signed the kids up for their traditional summer camps. And there has been ample time to play outside, run through the sprinkler, and hang out with friends.  5) Communicate Regularly. Communication is so important, and yet it is something that can quickly fall apart. When my husband and I fail to communicate on a regular basis, we make false assumptions, get more irritable, and miss the significant value each of us brings to our marriage, family, and this moving project. So, touching base daily and then conversing weekly for a longer period of time is key. In addition, communicating regularly with our children about emotions, details, and expectations keeps all of us on the same page.  6) Work Together. Moving is a lot of work, and so are other types of transitions. Therefore, it cannot fall upon one person to get the job done. Everyone must own the project. Here are some concrete ways families can work together, especially during a time of transition:
  • Create a to-do list and assign jobs to each family member.
  • Invite children to work alongside of you.
  • Make a fun music playlist to listen to while you work.
  • Decide together to which charities you will donate your gently used goods.
Times of transition are hard. They are imperfect and rarely smooth, but there is usually an end in sight. Before you know it, the transition will be in the past. And your family will be stronger and closer, because you were intentional about sticking together, maintained some normalcy, and remained rooted in prayer and Scripture. Has your family been through a big transition recently? How did you stick together and maintain normalcy during the change?
Copyright 2019 Sarah Damm