Shaking Things Up

Hello everyone.  Welcome back to my Reflections Thursdays post in which I am reflecting on happiness, wellness, kindness, and being your best self!  Please weigh in with your thoughts and thanks for reading!  xo M

Shaking Things Up

If you’re a self-confessed control freak like me, you love routine.  You like consistency, doing the same things at the same times. Your routines comfort you, taking away the fear that everything will somehow fall apart if you don’t follow a plan.

Yet as my family has grown, and we’ve come to be able to take on new adventures together, including travel, I’ve begun to marvel at the benefits of getting out of our routine and shaking things up.

I’ve also seen with Marc how much this has enriched our marriage. So much that if you asked me for my best piece of marriage advice, I’d say “keep it different, keep it fun”. Here’s why.

For the past two summers, I’ve taken off abroad with all five kiddos to explore some new horizons.  Twice we’ve set up shop in Barcelona near family and friends so that my kids could practice their Spanish and learn about a new culture.

After two weeks apart since Marc’s visit to Barcelona, we reunited last Sunday.  My sweetie picked us up at the airport.  We kissed like newlyweds — not what usually happens everyday!

Now, we don’t usually fight a lot, but we do have our share of little marital quibbles when everyone is feeling tired and stressed.  These past few days?  Not one.  We’ve been patient with each other, gentle with our words.  There’s a pleasure at being a couple, eating dinner and having time together in the evening. If you ask me what makes a good relationship, appreciation sits atop the list, and boy have we had a nice dose of mutual appreciation this week.

It’s said that the greatest thing about leaving home is coming home.  I’ve been so happy to be home with my sweetie these past few days, but I wouldn’t trade our version of shaking things up for anything.

And for the kids?  Our trip taught them to adapt to new challenges with flexibility.  We certainly are not drowning in space in NYC, but our small rental apartment in Barcelona offered less space than we are accustomed to.  The girls shared a bed, two boys another small bedroom, and Hedley slept in the living room.

Each and every morning without fail for the first few weeks, Marielle woke us up at 7 a.m.  But we learned to work around that, talking about it and finding new solutions.  By the end of the trip, we had her trained to scribble on colouring books in bed until 8!  As a family, we hatched that plan and saw it through, the boys remembering to put her coloring books on the bedside table the night before. With new challenges (and a little less sleep) came a spirit of a family unit and the chance to rediscover each other in a new setting.

Likewise, our food preferences were forced to expand! In ravenous moments, my kids were faced with new foods like frittata and Iberian ham, placed on a toasted bread with tomato paste, a very Spanish food.  A year ago, they would have recoiled but this year I heard no groans of opposition.

Now, fall is coming soon and the challenge for us is this: how can we continue to shake things up through the fall, with all the school and sports and extracurricular activities and obligations drowning us?  I’m hatching a list of ideas: one new dish a week, a different type of movie, seeing an old friend, trying to talk about one current event per day, finding an old favorite outfit in the closet and throwing it on… I’m brainstorming lifestyle changes for all of us that are easy enough to implement and can make a world of difference.

Any of you have any bright ideas? I’m open, ladies and gents. 

a break

No matter how, my friends, invest in SHAKING THINGS UP.  Change is good for us, it keeps life spicy and fun, it keeps a mature relationship young.  And it’s great for kids, because as they grow up in this big world of ours they will have to adapt to new people and ways of doing things.

For us, SHAKING THINGS UP hasn’t just been about travel, it’s also been about the choices we make: what we talk about, what we eat, what movies we see. We’ve learned how to shake things up but we need to learn to do so even more.

So if you’re wondering how to change your life for the better, consider shaking things up.

Send your kids to a friends house for a sleepover even if they will be up late. Try a new beach. Forego your local watering hole and eat out in a new neighborhood in town.

Keep it spicy, keep it different, keep it fun