I’m going to show my age here, but when I was growing up, “The Brady Bunch” was a popular show on TV. And oh, how I envied those kids in that family which looked nothing like my own. For example, they lived in a big house, the girls and the boys had their own bathrooms. They always wore “cool” clothes, and hey, they even had a live-in maid. Come on! Those kids had it made in the shade! And yet, even “The Brady’s”, had their fair share of stressful family life issues.
Now, I have to say I was blessed to grow up in a good family. But we, like every other “real” family out there, had our fair share of family issues. But, unlike “The Brady’s” issues which were fictional and always ended up resolved and in smiles, ours lasted more than a half-hour and definitely didn’t always end in smiles.
The myth of the perfect family
While there are healthy families, there is no such thing as a perfect family. And yes, even healthy families experience stressful family life. They have quarrels, uncooperative children, and sibling rivalries. And they also experience other challenging life events such as job losses, family member deaths, and financial struggles.
How to cope with stressful family life
Every family reacts to stress in different ways. And while there is no perfect way to manage stress, there are good coping strategies that can help guide you and your family when dealing with everyday stress and crises.
Here are a few ways that may work for you and your family:
- Keep the lines of communication open. It’s so important for family members to feel comfortable talking with one another about their feelings when they feel stressed.
- Check your behavior. Stressed-out parents without realizing it can set the tone for the rest of the family. So once again, this is where having an open line of communication can be beneficial. Tell your family you are having a difficult time and that you are working on finding a solution.
- Determine if some changes need to be made. For example, perhaps your family is getting overwhelmed by jam-packed activities, creating late bedtimes and crazy schedules. In that case, consider dropping an activity or two. Or maybe you are a single-parent family or you and your spouse both work. If so, it can be quite the challenge to keep the house clean, and you need more help from everyone. Have a family meeting and discuss some ways you can make changes to make everyone less stressed. However, keep in mind, most people don’t like changes, so start slowing and gradually make the changes your family needs.
- Set some family priorities. Family life is so different today than when I was growing up. It’s no wonder that parents and kids get stressed out while trying to squeeze so much into a too short period of time. It stresses me out just thinking about it. So, make some judgment calls on what is truly important for you and your family to be involved in. And don’t forget things such as family meals, playtime in the backyard with your kids, family movie or game nights, or just sitting on the porch and enjoying the fresh air or a good book.
- Develop and use a support system. As a parent, there are times when it is inappropriate for you to discuss particular concerns with your children. For those times, it is crucial to have a support system in place where you can share your feelings or turn to when you become overwhelmed.
- Laugh often. When stress levels are high, it’s pretty easy to worry, stress, and remain serious. Laughter, however, can help lighten the mood. And when your family hits a rough patch, there’s nothing like some light laughs or even a round of belly-busting guffaws to balance out the pressures of stressful family life. Laughter is contagious and truly is the best medicine. And though laughter can’t solve all your problems, it can help your family connect with one another, making it easier to work together and tackle any problems facing you.
“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” ―Jill Botte Taylor
So, until someone invents a way to live our lives stress-free, the best we can do is learn how to recognize, accept and manage the stresses that life can bring. I’m certain if you lock these coping strategies in place, you’ll be well on your way. And here’s a bonus, by managing your stress, you’ll have more time to focus your energies more on the things in life that really count.
And lastly, if you want to explore additional strategies to cope with stressful family life, working with a coach can be very helpful. A coach can walk you through various techniques that can help you and your family live less stressed and happier together.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. If you want more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. I’m looking forward to your call.
This article originally appeared on My Anxiety Link.