Written by Shannon Imhof-Clark
Life can feel like a balancing act. This is even more the case when kids are added to the mix. It can often feel like playing a bad game of Jenga when your tasks pile up, and everything seems to be on the verge of chaos. You may worry that you will love one child more than the next one. You feel like you’re one little shift away from everything caving in on top of you. Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. Studies have shown that about 49% of parents experience anxiety – that’s almost HALF of the people who are parenting children! So, what are the other half of parents doing differently that helps them manage anxiety?
What Are the Most Effective Strategies for Coping with the Challenges of Family Life?
We compiled some tips to help you cope with the challenges of family life. If your anxiety surrounding family life is in check, you stand a much better chance at having the time and resources freed up to manage any other anxiety you may face.
There are many things to handle each day when you have a family. Managing school and work schedules, extracurricular activities and socializing, meal planning, and house chores can be daunting when you try to list them all. However, that’s precisely what you should do!
Listing your responsibilities for each day helps you to schedule more effectively so things don’t wind up being missed or lost “between the cracks.” After repeatedly doing the same task, you will have a general idea about how long it will take to accomplish, making it easier to schedule into your day.
After your list is written, you can consider the priority level to assign each task. Sometimes we burden ourselves with things we want to get done but could wait for another time. Anything that can wait and be tackled in between higher priority items can be added to a “standby” list for when you have some free time – I know that probably sounds like a fantasy word right now, but it is possible!
If you are realistic about allotting time for your priority tasks and happen to accomplish them ahead of schedule or can recruit some help to handle things faster, then look to your standby list for things you can knock off there. Checking items off your lists helps put into perspective just how productive you have been – turning those feelings of anxiety into a sense of accomplishment!
When you have a family, you have loved ones whose needs become your own. We like to think that needs-meeting should be near the top of the list of priorities for a happy, healthy family life.
A general rule of thumb when considering whether something should be on your list of needs-meeting is whether that person would bring it up in a “needs meeting” with you.
If it is important enough to the loved one that they would mention it in a meeting with you, it is something to make a priority.
This might be watching a child performing a new song they learned on the instrument they have been practicing, watching the kids for that half-hour phone call that your spouse mentioned a few times or anything else that helps meet your family member’s needs.
Sometimes meeting the needs of others will look the same as how you would want them met for you, but sometimes, you need to be more in tune with how it looks to them.
Communication is key to understanding the difference.
Generally, you will want to balance time between your children to meet their needs. Taking time to appreciate each child’s interests is important to encourage them to grow and develop healthily.
Sometimes, you can stack this needs-meeting time by making it a group activity. Perhaps your family has a talent show where each child can exhibit their interests and receive praise and reinforcement from one another. Maybe your family has a scheduled “girls’ time” or “guy time.”
However you schedule it, meeting the needs of each family member fosters healthy attachment types, which will impact their future relationships – so it is worth prioritizing.
Quality time with your partner:
While these effective strategies discussed so far manage the daily grind and meet the needs of your household, it is also very important to consider the health of your relationship with your partner. Alone time with your spouse might appear to move to the “backburner” when there are multiple kids to juggle, but leaving things that way would be a crucial mistake.
When you took vows to share your life, that included the responsibilities! Sure, it may not require two people to drive one child to school daily, but your schedules’ interaction should be considered when coordinating such efforts. Sometimes it will be easy to figure out who is the best person to take on a specific task based on geography, scheduling, or other details – and sometimes, it won’t be that easy.
Remember how we just said that communication is the key? Bingo.
If the challenges of family life feel like they are often too much for you, that might be a sign that you are attempting to cope with them on your own. To keep your partnership thriving, it is important to maintain quality time to talk things out together and show appreciation for one another. In doing so, your bond is being nourished and strengthened. A team should move together in all matters.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 (NIV): Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
Another pitfall to avoid is burnout. Burnout happens when we take on so many responsibilities and fail to cope through the demands of those responsibilities.
Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout include:
- Sense of failure and self-doubt.
- Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.
- Detachment, feeling alone in the world.
- Loss of motivation. Increasingly cynical and negative outlook.
- Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
An effective way to deal with or prevent burnout is through practicing self-care. Aside from managing tasks through list of priorities, you might consider trying some of the following methods of implementing self-care:
- Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy, such as journaling.
- Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of the things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night or replay them in your mind.
- Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
- Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.
There is some overlap between these self-care methods and the other ideas discussed so far. Caring for yourself is important when caring for others. Social, emotional, and physical health should be prioritized, as should your spiritual health and relationship with the Lord.
Time with God:
We often forget that God promises to be there for us through so much of what we face. It is so easy to fall into discouragement and doubt that our daily lives would matter to Him. We might become busy and distracted, failing to spend much time in prayer and praise. It is no wonder, then, that we might not remember Him until we need Him most.
Nevertheless, He will be there for us every time.
Perhaps you think you do not have enough time to read your Bible or stop and pray to the Lord. Maybe you worry that your problems are too big or too small for Him. These are things the enemy wants you to feel.
But let us remind you of a few things:
- He promises to be there for all our problems without any limits. (Genesis 18:14)
- Our God cares for every detail, including the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30).
- The Lord is so thorough that He counts every star and calls them each by their name (Psalm 147:4).
So, when the storms of family life feel like they are tossing you about, trust and believe that a foundation built upon the Lord as our rock and cornerstone will not be washed away with the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). The Lord cares about what you are going through and will go through it with you if only you turn to Him by calling upon His name. (Psalm 50:15 and 86:5)
The one who sovereignly arranged your family to include each member He has chosen for you also cares that you seek Him together so that you might have household salvation (Acts 11:14). Parents who seek the Lord first in all things will set an example for their children to do the same.
The most effective strategies for coping with the challenges of life involve all aspects of the health of a person, so it makes sense that the most effective strategies for coping with the challenges of family life involve all aspects of the health of your family, as well.
Handling the daily grind and needs-meeting might be straightforward, but even these aspects of balancing family life are improved by setting aside quality time with your partner, self-care, and time with the Lord. Raising a family involves a joint effort between you and your partner, but the Lord should be invited into that, as well. If He is, then you owe it to your family to make time to strengthen that fellowship. In doing so, the rest becomes easier to cope with.
If you would like to join a free online group about coping with the challenges of family life, please fill out this form. One of our professional care coaches will contact you and get you started.
We invite you to find your own personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Please watch this short video and feel free to connect with us. God loves you and we care.
If you want to find great kids content, click here.