Moving is stressful no matter how much you purge and prepare. Change is rough on everyone. As a military family, we moved from state to state and were in flux for weeks traveling and dealing with boxes. It sometimes felt like it would never end; we would never be settled. To keep us up beat and focused on being kind to each other throughout that period of unpredictability we introduced “Trooper Points.” The rules are very loose. Its focus is all about rewarding positive attitude and flexibility. No points are taken away for grumpiness. Among other things, a good trooper helps cheerfully, problem solves, and is responsible.
“10 points to Beth for remembering to grab the charging cord from the hotel!”
“15 points to Jenna for being a good sport about the restaurant choice.”
“100 points to Mom for packing the car in the heat while hungry.”
“1000 points to everyone for handling the traffic jam without tears.”
We let the kids make a chart to keep track of points with a clipboard tucked in the back seat. We set a goal, but a formal tally is silly when you throw points around like confetti for weeks at a time. After we got most of the boxes unpacked and could find the grocery store in our new town without the help of GPS, we’d celebrate with ice cream sundaes. Though we’ve now been in our current home for six years, from time to time, trooper points are awarded out of the blue when times get tough.
Most transition is a group activity. “Trooper points” helped to keep us focused on what matters – the people alongside also experiencing the change. It was an incentive to choose kindness, to be optimistic, to be encouraging to one another. This kind of intention can change the sharpness and hardship of change. It helps to bond you to one another and is some prevention to taking it out on one another or ourselves. It can help ease the fatigue and discouragement that can creep in over time during long term changes.
With your team, you don’t need to declare the game and hand out tally sheets for the duration of the transition. (But you could! A visual reminder can help you all to not lose focus over time.) Talk with your group about the way you’d like everyone to come together to journey through the season of change. You can set the example and tone.
“Kathy, I know you have a lot going on. Thanks for being here.”
“Susan, I appreciate you reminding us to pray for these issues.”
“I saw you stop to help Karen on your way out, even though you were already late. That meant a lot to me and to Karen.”
In times of change, when we choose to support each other and verbally recognize that we are all in it together some of the burden of adjustment is lifted. Over the long term it helps to keep our perspective on the end goal and not to be too weighed down by any temporary discomfort. The conclusion of a team’s transition is not always as obvious as relocating a household but plan a treat when you find the transition is complete. Celebrate in some way when you come to the other side. Talk about what worked and what you would do differently, because if there is something you and your team can count on, it’s encountering change on a regular basis!
Kim Ward is a Special Project Volunteer for MOPS International. She has been married to Dan for 23 years and they have two fabulous daughters. They live in Massachusetts.