Get Out of Survival Mode

My husband says we are almost “empty nesters” because five of our adult children have moved out… and we only have TEN left at home!

I was asked a couple of times to share my ideas on how to get out of survival mode and thrive. I quickly wrote down five steps. I hope this helps someone.

First things first:

Number 1: Throw out everyone else’s opinion about what you should be doing with your family, home, body, homeschool, kitchen, job, budget and life style. If they don’t live in your house, their opinion should not drive you, shame you, or be your source of motivation. Sometimes we operate from a place of guilt because we are trying to satisfy someone who can’t be satisfied. This person is usually a family member who is an empty nester, or maybe was a teacher in the past, who knows what’s “best” for your family. Or you could be motivated by an image from Instagram that is totally unrealistic. Who are you following? Who are you trying to please? Are you driven by fear of failure or by a desire to fulfill your purpose and bring joy into your world?

Number 2: What is your purpose? What’s the end goal in raising your children? What’s your vision for your marriage? What are your personal and realistic health goals? Write down your answers and check your life to see if your daily life is in alignment with your goals. Does your husband share these primary goals? Get on the same page. If you are in agreement move on to step 3.

Number 3: Let go of anything you are doing for the wrong reason. Let go of anything that isn’t working. Let go of the unhealthy things that you may have lost control of… like things that waste time, wear you out, and compromise your health.

Number 4: After taking time to clean out your life of anything that keeps you from meeting your goals and living your purpose, you will be ready to add in some good stuff. But you CANNOT ADD until you subtract. So now that you dumped the time wasters and gave up a couple unhealthy habits, and stopped listening to the control freaks who love you… you are ready for your purpose. Start by planning just two hours a week to focus on your purpose: that meaningful something that matters so much to you.

Number 5: Get total control of your daily accomplishments. Start choosing to focus daily on what is important, instead of being in survival mode, where we scramble to do what is absolutely necessary. Once you get control of your daily life you can start making room for bigger dreams, bigger projects, a bigger mission. But remember there is nothing more important than nurturing a family. Nurture your family with a vision for the future and let one of your greatest goals for each member of the family be to help each one discover and pursue their life’s purpose. This includes your purpose along with your husband’s. You are more than parents, you are a team to raise a family and make a difference in this world, in your community or whatever.

When you are in survival mode, it’s impossible to think much about the rest of the world because your own world is barely hanging in there. So why are we in survival mode? Because we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our children. Because we are being shamed by Instagram and “people who care”? Because we are wasting too much time? Because we have no energy as a result of eating junk food, and we don’t sleep? Because we take on homeschooling methods that sap the life out of us and make our kids miserable? Because we are too tired to bless our husbands? Because we have preschoolers and babies?

I’m just writing what popped into my head. I hope it helped someone.

One last thing–turn off the noise. Turn on peaceful music and light a candle. It only takes a moment but can totally change the mood in your home to help everyone settle down and refocus.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Challenging Attitudes During School

Is your child freezing up, looking for an escape, or fighting and arguing when it’s time to do schoolwork?

When your child picks a fight or freaks out at school time, do what you can to change the mood.  You may need to change your attitude and expectations. 

Here are some ideas to de-fuse the stress:

1. Give the child a sweet and healthy snack to munch on while doing schoolwork, make this part of the routine, they will look forward to it.

2. Don’t use fluorescent lighting – it causes anxiety for many children. Natural warm lighting is much more comforting.

3. Turn off the distractions and turn on peaceful music.

4. Give your child some words of encouragement or a compliment, and avoid harsh words, criticism, and forcefulness. If you must correct the child first give a compliment, next give the instruction, then say something positive.  The goal is to keep learning time from triggering stress, fight, and flight mode.

5. Give your child a hug, cuddle, pat or scratch their backs.  Comforting touch is a powerful de-fuser and helps the child to ease into a good mood. Compliment, next give the instruction, then say something positive.  The goal is to keep learning time from triggering stress, fight, and flight mode. Children need the home to be a place of comfort, acceptance, and unconditional love.  Children need mommy to be a source of peace, encouragement, and gentle guidance.

6. Use a calm voice and be helpful.

7. Get out of teacher-mode and into mommy-mode.

8. Make the first and last activity of learning-time their favorites.

9. Smile.

10. Dump curriculum that stresses them out – there are many options that can work better, children can’t learn under stress.  Skip journal pages or workbook pages that the child is not ready for.  You can come back to them later, or do those yourself while the child watches.

Guess what? These behaviors should be a warning sign that your child is slipping into “survival mode” because they associate schoolwork with failure, humiliation, confusion, or fear. What do they fear? It could be many things.  Usually fear of failure or a fear of being humiliated if they make mistakes. Children need to home to be a place of comfort, acceptance, and unconditional love.  Children need mommy to be a source of peace, encouragement, and gentle guidance.