Friday, September 19, 2014

10 Habits of a Successful LE Family

1. Communicate- This is the most important trait of a healthy family. Communicating with one another prevents misunderstandings, can heal wrong perceptions, and clarify confusion. All of this helps us to get on with living a fun, happy, healthy life. Don't forget to communicate with everyone in your family, not just your spouse. Children benefit from communication, especially with their parents. It sends a message that they have value, how they feel matters, and teaches them a way to channel emotion in a healthy way. As much as communication involves words, don't forget to listen, ask questions, and affirm one another, even if what the other person has to say is difficult to hear. A successful Police family knows there is more important ways to spend time together than to let misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or pent up emotion get in the way. The key to successful communication is listening, patience, ask questions, and remember the other person has as much right to express and feel emotion as you do. You're a team, and you're all in it together for the same good outcome...never forget to use communication as the tool to keep a healthy momentum in your's the best tool you have!

2. Make Time- Every Police family knows that time together is precious. Many people use the term "finding time" to do things together. No matter how busy your schedule, no matter if both parents work, or kids are busy with school and activities...make time, don't just find it. By making time we ensure time together will happen. Making time together puts everyone first, it makes time together priority, and when life is at its busiest, time together is one area that should not be neglected. One of my favorite quotes is "In our family, love is spelled time." It's a simple reminder that memories, good feelings, and bonding is created with time...not things. So sit down, look at your schedules and make time. Go on that road trip you've been talking about, take a day off to do an activity together, go on a date, or just have a fun day around the house. Nothing is more important than time together and nothing makes a bigger impact in the success and joy of a family. Visit my post Family Time Ideas...The LE Version for some fun ways to spend time together!

3. Stay Positive...& Laugh- Learn to laugh. Not every day will go perfectly, not every situation will have an easy fix. There are going to be plenty of days when plans are upturned, your loved ones drive you nuts, or the LE life gets to be too much. Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter is our help in difficult times and it takes just as much energy to laugh as it does to despair. Keep your sense of humor intact. Fight to keep your perspective positive. Laughter and humor are the keys to staying positive. You can train your brain to see in a positive perspective and once you make joy your goal in difficult times (which there are many as an LE family) you unlock your greatest potential for success. Check out Laugh It Off for more insight on staying positive!

4. Don't Future Trip- Future tripping is another term for fearing the unknown or the things we are afraid may come to pass down the road. It's so easy as Police families to focus on the fears in our lives. At times, evil is all around us. We hear about what our LEOs face each day, how one call turned ugly, or how someone hurt another person. Top that off with the fears of losing our LEO and it can get to be too much. Let me remind you, stay in today. Today is all we have, this moment is all we know. To look so far forward into the future that we begin fearing the unknown is unfair to ourselves. It is abuse of our emotions, our realities, and our perspective. Remember to stay in today, keep your realities and your thoughts on what you know, not what you are afraid might happen. Most times what we fear never comes to pass but instead robs us of our peace in the moment. We can become consumed by it, changed by it, and it begins to affect all around us. You deserve a joyful, peaceful life. Remembering the truth of what is and not what we fear may come to pass will help you last through the years as an LE family. It will keep you strong and controlled during the tough times. Read more about overcoming fear and expecting peace in your life...I Expect Peace

5. Be Flexible- "Never underestimate a turd ball's ability to ruin your plans." and it never fails. Whether it's a canceled date because of overtime, a crappy nights sleep because of a call out, or a holiday spent alone because your LEO works, the life of a Police family demands flexibility. And that can be a tough pill to swallow. One way to learn to be flexible is to hold plans loosely and fight the tendency for expectations. If your LEO says he will be home at 5, plan in your head for 6. Don't hold times or dates so tightly that they are bound to not work out. If my LEO says date night at 5 and I plan for somewhere between then and night still happens and I don't hold the situation to a cut and dry result. It's easier on my own emotions and gives my LEO a break. Officers have weird schedules, we all know that, so give you and your LEO a break and be honest that sometimes things don't work out, but there is next time. Keep a positive, forward perspective when it comes to holidays, there is always next year. And part of the weirdness of messed up schedules and having to deal with them is exactly what makes Police families a rare breed. We are forced to put expectations aside, hold plans loosely and go with the flow. It's a strength and skill that trickles into other areas of our lives too...and that's what makes us stinkin' awesome!

6. Remember Gratitude- When it all gets to be too much...remember what you have. Remember the power of gratitude. It takes what we have and makes it enough. If we are always searching for a fix or something better, we will miss so much of what we have. If you are struggling with burdens and perspective, sit down for a moment and remind yourself the wonderful things you have. It is easy to think of what we miss out on as Police families or how much harder we have it. Don't go there. Because there is so much that we have as Police families that others don't. We have amazing perspective on the value of time and life. We don't take moments for granted. We know how to watch out for each other. We know the true meaning of family, both blue and blood. The things that make life challenging as Police families are also the very things that make us unique, exceptionally special, and admirably strong. Don't ever let hardships steal your ability to see the good in life. You have a LEO who does a dangerous job...but because of that you love deeper and don't waist moments together. You have weird schedules...but because of that you have learned to be flexible. You are alone sometimes...but you can be grateful you have someone to miss and the strength to keep going. Just remember, a lot of the things that drive us nuts are the very things we would miss if they were gone. Keep reading about overcoming hardships with gratitude and the wonderful realities of the LE life at...Finding the Light Through Gratitude and The Silver Lining 
7. Ask for Help- This is huge. A Police family goes through a lot. It is absolutely, without a doubt, ok and necessary to ask for help once in a while. We all get to a point where we want to pull our hair out. Maybe you're not getting enough time with your LEO...tell them, make some time, and ask someone to watch your kids. Maybe you're not getting enough you time...ask someone to take something from your list of to-do's so you can take some time for yourself. Maybe you need to vent, you're feeling unsure, or over up a fellow LEOW, a family member, or someone who will understand and talk. It's ok to need a re-boot and it's double ok to recognize and admit you need help. I used to think I needed to be super mom and a super Trooper wife (haha, get it?) but that is so not the truth. No one is created to do everything on their own. We belong to a wonderful Blue family, people who know what it's like as a Police family. Call someone up and lean on them. Last time I checked, God created the world with a whole lot of people in it...proof we don't have to go it alone.

8. Forget About the Joneses- Does it ever feel like other people seem to have it together better than you? Do you ever find yourself comparing the way you go about things to the way you see your friends living their lives? Especially with social media, it can seem like other people have it totally together while you're sitting there out of sorts or totally upside down. Remember, when it comes to comparing ourselves to others, no one ever sees everything that goes on in other people's lives. My dad always says "Everyone puts their pants on the same way, one leg at a time." And it's true. We all have struggles, we all fall short, no one is ever perfect. I can guarantee that the PoPo family that seems like they have it all together, doesn't. They struggle just like you, maybe in different ways, but they are not perfect just the same. Don't waist your time comparing your "faults" to their "strengths". Many times our perceptions of how other people excel or succeed are not reality but rather come from our own insecurities. Focus on yourself and instead of thinking about how you could do things better like so-and-so, remind yourself of the wonderful things you do do...and how you are wonderfully you just the way you are. The demon of comparison will chip at your resolve. It will kill your confidence and attack your strength. You are enough...and you were given this life because you are strong enough to live it. You have everything within you to succeed and thrive.

9. Take a Break- Don't forget to take time to shut it all off. Whether that means a vacation, or just some free time to yourself. While the Law Enforcement life is an honorable one that we are proud of, each member of our family has their own identity, heck, even my LEO has an identity outside the badge (gun nut, foodie, mountain man extraordinaire!). Sometimes it's nice to hang up the job and the struggles that come with it, and just say we're human. Remind each other to rest, have hobbies, and take time for themselves. My husband loves to reload ammo in the garage and I love to write or watch girly shows he has no interest in. When we go out on dates, we leave the work stuff behind (unless someone needs to talk or needs support). In general, we try to take time to shut off all the things that come with the badge and just be us. It's a wonderful, refreshing reboot when we set aside the stress and intensity and just get back to basics. The best way to cope with the day to day crazy is to take a break and take care of yourself. Find ideas for self care at Taking A Minute for Me...and You!

10. Remember It's a Journey- Lastly, don't forget to give yourself a break. There might be something on this list of habits that's just not you. You might struggle with even the idea of managing one of these things...for me it would be not fearing the future and being flexible...not part of my natural personality. But that's ok. The adventure of being a Police Family is a journey, one we will excel at, at times, and one we will struggle with. No one gets it right out of the gate. And that is perfectly fine. It's not about the end result, it's about the journey we take to get there. The person you are today is enough. You're going to make it if you keep trying, and it doesn't matter how long it takes. Life is a process and when we give ourselves a break and lighten up on the expectations, it can become a beautiful journey full of learning and living. If you keep a hopeful attitude, and a positive perspective, no part of the LE life can shake you. You were made for this and part of being successful in life, is not being afraid to live the life you were made for. I've written more at LEOW Life is a Journey...I hope you take a second to read it!

While these 10 habits are not the end all to thriving as a Police Family, I hope they offer a start to supporting you in your journey. These are ways to live an LE life that I have figured out on my own, as well as been encouraged to embrace by other LEOWs. Perhaps the best advice I can give, in closing, is to remember your support system. Remember the wonderful Blue family you belong to and the faithfulness of the Lord. You are set apart for great things. You have within you everything needed to succeed in the life you were given. Never forget your purpose, and always remember your value. While the LE life can be difficult, it is one of the greatest adventures we can take. It proves our courage, our strength, reminds us of what matters most, and keeps us grounded. I pray peace, safety, and all the success possible for your family!

If you have other habits or traits that have helped your family through the years, please share in the comments!

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