One Small Way to Help Your Family Deal with Big Change


Change is a well known theme in my family’s life, if not always well received. I love change when it’s my idea, but I’m not a big fan when it’s not. When undesirable change sits close to me, the fresh air of familiarity I desperately want feels far away and out of reach.

As difficult as it can be for us grownups to maneuver change, it can be twice as hard on the little people in our families. Or in my case, the young people in my family.


Which means it is twice as important for me to do what I can to ease the turmoil change brings not only for my own well being, but for my family’s, too.

I was reminded of this earlier in the week, on March 17th to be exact, when I served shepherd’s pie for dinner and St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes for dessert. {And when I say St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes, I mean plain vanilla cupcakes bought from the grocery covered in leftover green Christmas sprinkles.} James kindly made lemonade laced with green food coloring, and when Faith’s eyes took in the full visual of our meal, she squealed and proclaimed, “I love St. Patrick’s Day dinner!”

Before you think I make a major deal out of every minor holiday (although with my maiden name of O’Neill, St. Patrick’s Day has never been considered a minor holiday in my family), my real reason for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day  is simple: It’s one of our family’s seasonal traditions. Because when you’re a family like ours that’s well acquainted with change and transition, seasonal as well as daily traditions bring the fresh air of familiarity back home again.


When change alters our outside environment, it’s good to have regular rituals occurring inside our family. So, I make shepherd’s pie or corned beef and read the story of St. Patrick for St. Patrick’s Day. I lay out the beloved advent calendar at Christmas. May and August bring birthday treasure hunts. We take weekend walks in the field across from the kids’ school or hike trails around the Air Force Academy. We read Scripture and tell God what we’re thankful for, what we’re sorry for, and what we pray for.

Both seasonally and daily, we share those traditions familiar to everybody and those that make sense only to the five of us. 

And the really beautiful thing is this: no matter where we are or how life transitions, we can take those familiar traditions with us.

It’s not about adding pinterest approved, show-stopping activities to your to-do’s. It’s not about allowing guilt to motivate you to do more so you’ll fit into the imaginary “good mom” category.  It’s about doing what works for you and yours, what gives your own family fresh air. It’s about turning traditions into landmarks in your own family life because traditions ease transitions. 

And that is one truth we can carry with us through all of life’s changes.

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  1. Beth Williams says

    You are a very wise woman! Change is never easy and some traditions can ease the pain!!

    Thank you for a very informative post!!!

  2. says

    Beautiful post, Kristen. This is something I wish we had done more of with our family. I love how it’s not too late though.
    Blessings to you.

  3. says

    Being that we have family on 2 different continents and feel called to yet another….change is oh so familiar to our tiny family. Thank you for this simple and powerful wisdom!! Needed to be reminded to keep developing our own little traditions as a family!!

  4. says

    Love your blog. And love your thoughts on change and traditions. My daughter has dealt with alot of change. She is nine and moved eight times! Well, I don’t deal well with it either!!! Thank you: )