Take Charge of Change

My husband and I recently had our first child, bought a home and he started a new job. I am having a difficult time managing change in my life and I’m wondering if there are any basic things I can do to make the stress more bearable?

Psychologists list the three life changes that you are currently going through among the top causes of stress. The good news is that there are things you can do to find relief.

First of all, remember that God will never give you more than you can handle (even when it feels like he is already doing so). I recommend that you take on this challenge from three angles. The first is emotional, the second is functional and the third is spiritual.

Manage your emotions. It would make sense that you would feel needier than ever before. Your emotions have value and make life interesting, flavorful and meaningful but they can also cloud your ability to reason your way through challenges. Balance out your life in order to refocus and to be fresh for the people and challenges associated with your new responsibilities.

Even though it may be hard to imagine finding time to get some exercise or to read a newspaper, these things are essential. Most new mothers I know are so dedicated to serving their new families that they feel guilty taking the time to do anything for themselves. Eventually this leads to exhaustion, which raises new problems. Look at the short breaks not as selfish moments but as an essential part of rejuvenating yourself in order to better serve your family. Meeting with other mothers is also a great way to fulfill the emotional needs of this time. You will also pick up tips about managing change from the real experts: other moms.

Organize your approach. Instead of trying to tackle every task as soon as you think of it, write out a To Do list. The very act of making a list may reduce stress associated with trying to remember all of your responsibilities. Be sure that you have an easy-to-see calendar as well. I recommend something that allows you to see the entire month. This may reduce stress because you will have a clear picture of what lies ahead.

It is also wise to list and organize your daily responsibilities. I remember when, after we had our first child, we felt as though his needs now controlled the activities of each day. Take charge of change by scheduling a routine for cleaning, shopping, laundry and breaks. Then teach your baby to adapt to your schedule as much as possible.

To give you further hope, know that it was Lisa’s and my experience that adjusting to our first child was harder than adjusting to our sixth. Experience is a terrific teacher.

Practice your faith. This is a time for praise and thanksgiving. The selflessness that you are exercising out of love for your family will yield eternal rewards. You may want to use each challenge as a reminder to pray. The prayer “solution” is not simply a warm and fuzzy sentiment. It will not only help you grow in holiness by deepening your relationship with Christ; prayer will also produce temporal results that will equate to a miraculous feeling of increased stamina, time and organization in your life.

Motivational speaker Dave Durand is the author of Time Management for Catholics. He’s online at DaveDurand.com.