Spring is here. Take a deep breath; a host of big life events could be just around the corner, with all sorts of new stresses to deal with. Maybe your teen is attending a first prom. Or you’re praying your college age children make it through spring break in one piece. How will you deal with the stress of graduations, seeing your kids come home, or leave home, and maybe the most stressful of all…planning for weddings in June?
Of course, not all life changes revolve around our children. Home sales crank up in the spring, and you might be considering a move, or trying to spruce up your house to sell. Or you might still be trying to get your taxes in under the wire.
We strive for picture perfect memories. Many of life’s big moments are the ones we photograph and put in albums, to revisit again and again. So it is easy to overdo our expectations. We want everyone to look happy, and everything to work out as we’ve planned.
The more we build up our expectations, however, the more apt we are to stress about making them happen, and the more disappointed we can become. Even more importantly, we can miss the joy and wonder of the present moment if we are too focused on an ideal in our heads.
Focus on people more than the process. Remind yourself at the beginning of any big plans that the event is about the people, not perfect outfits, and precision timing. If you look at photos years down the road, it is the people you shared the moment with that make the memories so special. Besides, one of the pleasures of sharing pictures is to laugh at how funny everyone’s clothes look now.
Enjoy being on the sidelines. As our children grow up, it can be hard to let go of wanting to guide and protect them. But when we participate in our children’s rites of passage, it is essential that we let them be the star. Just because all their attention is wrapped up in the excitement, that doesn’t mean you’ve been pushed aside. They feel your support just because you are with them. They will turn to you when they need you, but they also need to make choices on their own.
Stepping back graciously gives you an opportunity to bask in a moment you will never have again. You can witness how beautiful, competent, and strong your child has become, and simply relish sharing their special day.
Take charge of your own life changes. Our own life changes can be something we planned for, or from news or opportunities that arrive out of the blue. The loss of a job, or the offer of a better one, the call of new places, the birth of a child…all depend on us to take charge of a new situation. When we take charge, we gain personal power, and more power equals less stress.
Other people will no doubt offer their opinions, but you cause yourself extra stress if you try to please everyone around you. You can be caring and gracious, but your life path is still you own. When you embrace the responsibility of your own choices, you release the stress of other people’s judgments, and can be happier with the decisions you make.
It’s OK to hire a pro. Whether it is a wedding planner or a realtor who can stage your home to sell, help and advice from a professional can take a load of stress off your shoulders. There are pros available for every budget, so doing everything yourself might not be as much of a bargain as you might expect.
Guidance from an appropriate professional can also act as a buffer against a barrage of opinions from those around you. You still make the decisions, but you will be better informed, and have some extra hands to help with the work.
Make a decision that your life events are meant to be fun and cherished, and refuse to let stress get in the way. Then simply enjoy the ride.
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