I am a journaler. I have journaled every night for the past eighteen years. Sometimes, when I mention this to new acquaintances, they’ll say something like, “Wow! That must take so much discipline — I could never do that.” I always struggle to know how to respond, because the fact is, it doesn’t feel like a discipline. It feels like a necessity. And although I don’t always want to journal, especially after an intense day when all I want to do is sleep, I desperately want what journaling gives me: self-awareness.
As Martin and Sylvia’s family continues their journey of building a weekly Day of Rest in their home, we see Daddy using his own skills of self-awareness and training his children to use theirs. (Those of you who have listened to the latest SparkleCast with Dr. Carrie Contey will have received a dose of this wisdom already — if you haven’t heard it yet, I highly recommend it!) In a moment of minor crisis, Daddy gets enough perspective to pull out the Kübler Ross “Five Stages of Grief” and translate it for Martin and Sylvia’s experience. This bit of context ultimately helps Martin and Sylvia overcome their disappointment and embrace the blank slate of their day.
Self-awareness is key for navigating tricky moments in interpersonal relationships. In this episode, you hear the process Daddy goes through in his own mind when Martin and Sylvia protest the cancellation of the day’s plans due to Momma’s illness. Daddy, in a moment of stress, almost lit into his kids for being unkind and thoughtless, caring more about their social plans than Momma’s well-being. But Daddy steps back for a moment, recognizes his own inner response, and then views the situation empathetically from Martin and Sylvia’s vantage point. What follows is Daddy’s experiment in teaching his kids that disappointing experiences bring a host of emotions — but that we can end up okay on the other side of it.
In your own journeys toward building a Day of Rest, you have doubtless encountered bumps in the road — unexpected responsibilities or activities, noncompliant children, the unfamiliarity of boredom, and even, like Momma this week, illnesses that derail plans. Daddy’s cool-headedness can help us sort through our options when these bumps come.
Here are a few tips we can learn from Martin and Sylvia’s family this week:
Keep Calm and Pause Like Daddy. Martin and Sylvia’s father could have blown his top when they started complaining about having their potluck and painting plans cancelled — but he didn’t. He paused and then “he took a breath and tried to consider how they felt.” This split second of perspective was just the thing Daddy needed to turn a potentially explosive situation into an opportunity for learning, growth, and flexibility. Daddy isn’t magic (okay, well, maybe a little) — but he trusted that pausing might give him more information about himself and his kids than he was noticing in the moment. And he was right. Try this at home!
The Five Stages of Disappointment. In this mild experience of grief and disappointment, Daddy teaches the Five Stages to his children as a fun way to explore their feelings and move through them. He starts by talking with Martin and Sylvia about their feelings, making notes along the way. Then he talks them through each stage and offers them a chance to express those feelings in a bit of play-acting. You can teach your own kids about The Five Stages of Disappointment, giving them a tool that will help them manage difficult experiences for the rest of their lives. The Five Stages are:
- Denial (“I don’t believe it!”)
- Anger (“I am so angry!”)
- Bargaining (“Tell you what...”)
- Sadness (“I’m the saddest one in the land!”)
- Acceptance (“Momma is sick and we need to cancel the potluck. I accept that.”)
- Listen to your body. We don’t hear too much from Momma in this episode, but I can’t help noticing something: Momma is sick and she actually rests her body. She doesn’t force herself to get up and make breakfast or gather those painting supplies together or rally for the potluck. Even though she knew Martin and Sylvia would be disappointed, Momma treats herself like a human being who is sick and needs rest. This is something that many of us do not do. One of my personal new year’s resolutions for 2017 has been to actually rest when I am sick. When I was laid up with the flu for much of February, that meant letting things go (think dust bunnies, hot dogs for dinner, and more movies than are good for anyone in the family). But I like to think that my commitment to take care of myself was a good example to my growing daughters. Not to mention that it felt amazing.
Listen to the first free story HERE and read more about getting started with a Day of Rest.
About the Author
Ann is a writer, editor, homeschooling mother, voracious reader, full-fat baker, and musician. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters and chronicles the journey at Boyds’ Nest News.