craft verb \'kraft\ to create with care, skill and intention

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stuck in a rut? It's time to break out!

I think everyone goes through times when they just operate in "survival mode." You know those times when everything is just kind of crazy? Maybe you move to a new house, maybe you experience a change in employment or your job becomes especially stressful, maybe you have a baby or your family undergoes big changes, maybe you have to deal with an illness in yourself or your family...the possibilities are endless. But anyway, for whatever reason, you find yourself in a state of flux. Your coping skills are functioning at maximum capacity, which leaves you functioning well enough to get by, but at a less-than-optimal level. When you look back later at that period you will feel like it was all a blur. Sometimes those periods are short, lasting for a matter of weeks. Other times they can be longer, like years. That's where we've been for the last, oh, well, it's been a while now. Two years? It's probably been longer than that, really. The important thing is that I'm tired of it! I'm tired of life just happening to me! I'm tired of being reactive! I'm ready to be proactive and start living again instead of just existing. Okay! Woo hoo! now what?

Unfortunately, I don't really have a fix-all answer for that question. But we have been making some (small) changes around here and I thought I would share with you what's been working for us.
  • Family dinners - In survival mode, just getting dinner on the table was a major chore. I slipped into the nasty habit of just having the TV on during dinner. Trying to get the kids to engage in a real conversation can be a lot of work! Most of the time, I just wasn't up for it. But for the last few weeks, I have insisted that the TV is off during dinner and we play a little game we call "best and worst." It's simple - each person shares the best moment and worst moment of his/her day. Even my three-year old gets into it! Now, the first few days there was quite a bit of grumbling, especially from the older kids. But it wasn't long before the kids started calling dibs on who would go first. My teenager isn't quite that enthusiastic about it, but he has stopped grumbling about it and he actually participates during his turn and doesn't talk over the other kids during their turns. Hey, it's progress!
  • Cooking nights - Like I said before, dinner has been a major chore for me. I have long lamented the fact that, although my mom spent countless hours in the kitchen with me during my childhood, I have not been able to master the art of including the kids in cooking activities. Well, I still have not mastered it, that's for sure. But I have started having the kids take turns helping me make dinner every night. So, each evening one child helps me in the kitchen. I try to plan each child's level of involvement around their interests and abilities. This one caused some MAJOR grumbling the first week. So much grumbling that I almost scrapped the whole deal. Dinner for seven is hard enough without having to struggle with an uncooperative kiddo. Fortunately, The Hubs convinced me to give it another week. I'm so glad he did! Week two was much easier. We are now in the middle of week three and I'm pleased to announce that even my teen not only tolerates his kitchen tasks but actually enjoys them! It has been a fun way to get everyone involved in something that benefits the whole family. It's also been a great way for me to get some one-on-one time with each kiddo (that's hard to come by with 5 kids!).
  • Giving together - We pulled our first money saving switcheroo a couple of Fridays ago. Instead of ordering delivery pizza, I bought frozen pizzas (at a savings of $18!) for dinner. I put $18 in cash in our giving bank. The kids helped me count it out and they were amazed (honestly, so were us grown-ups) at how much money we could save with such a small and easy change. The kids loved it! One of the kids had a friend over that evening and she exclaimed, "I wish I could eat dinner with you guys all the time! This is so cool! At my house we just watch TV while we eat." Well, we've had plenty of nights like that, too. But this is definitely more fun. Now we have to figure out where to give that money, but we'll have more on that at a later date.

I guess when I was just getting by I got so used to just getting by that I stopped trying to do anything better. I think I assumed that at some point the fog would lift and we would get things back on track. I finally just got so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired that I decided to take charge and start working on clearing the fog myself. It's not happening overnight, but it is happening. When you get right down to it, it's pretty simple. If you keep doing what you've been doing, you're going to keep getting what you've been getting. Garbage in, garbage out, right? It's time to change things up! Do something different, even if it's just one small thing. I'm finding that one small thing leads to another small thing, and so on and so on.

When you find yourself stuck in a rut, what do you do to break out of it?


1 comment:

SarahinOK said...

When I'm getting out of ruts, I have to have accountability. Sometimes from my hubby, or friends or whoever... but someone to talk to about it, and who will remind me why I'm intentionally making life harder for a season, so it'll be better in the long-run. :)

I forgot to watch the re-make of the episode you texted me about last night! :) I'll get a raincheck and have you show/tell me next time! Hope C is feeling better.