Little Amber may not know what a stock market is, but she certainly knows if Mom and/or Dad is feeling more stressed out than usual.
Many families are suffering from lost jobs, and many more are downright nervous or scared about the upswell of doom and gloom reports on the daily news. However, every diversity carries within it the seed of opportunity, and this can be a great time to strengthen your family.
These seven tips are guaranteed to allow your family, not only to survive, but to thrive during this economic downturn.
1. Extreme self care. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money, but ruthlessly carving out some time for goofing off can do more for your family than thousands of dollars in psychotherapy. Even in the best of times, parents tend to overextend themselves. Do whatever it takes to get some additional hours to yourself.
2. Attitude of Gratitude. No matter how bad things seem, you’re better off financially than most of the rest of the world. Make it a family project to find things for which to be grateful. Make a gratitude poster and let everyone add to it. Last year, I felt that my youngest child was too picky about everything, nothing ever seemed to please her. I bought a stencil set and had her make a small poster that read simply “Attitude of Gratitude.” On occasion, I ask her to read what’s on that poster. Recently, she caught me complaining and said, “Mom, try to focus on what is working.”
3. Strategic Spending. Telling your kids or yourself that you “can’t afford that” usually makes everyone want it more and feel sorry for themselves. Transform your thinking about not spending into strategic spending. Give an alternate explanation for not purchasing something: I don’t want to spend money on that right now.
4. Simplify. Saying “no” to others can be saying “yes” to your own family. Take this opportunity to stop doing so many things. Make a list of the family’s activities and arrange them in order of importance. Chop off the bottom fourth of the list. No need to explain more than, “This isn’t a good time for me to take on this additional responsibility.”
5. Play games. Replace one hour of television with games. Apples to Apples is my current favorite, bunco is good, all card games are fun, and your children probably have several games in the closet they haven’t looked at in months. Playing a game gets everyone focused on the same thing, and worry is out the window.
6. Sleep more. One night a week, put yourself in bed before 9 p.m. Even if it takes a while to get to sleep, just lay there and relax.
7. Professional help. If your family is struggling with debt or losing a home, get professional help to deal with creditors.
Remember, this too, shall pass. Focus on the present and find the good stuff around you.