Oh, the seasons of life.
Right now I’m in the “married with four children” season.
Ten years ago, If you would have told me that I’d ever be in this season, I would have laughed at you.
Well, life, it looks like you’re the one laughing.
Seasons are often unexpected or unplanned, but that’s just life in general.
In all honestly, I absolutely love the season I’m in, but I do recognize its limitations.
For example, I can’t hang out at the bars with my single friends every Friday and Saturday night.
Not if I expect my family to stick around.
We’re always in a certain season of life.
Either in the middle, or in a transition.
And every season is beautiful in its own way, even if it feels like you can’t take much more of it.
There are ways to stay productive in any season, but you must first know your limiting factors.
There are all kinds of seasons in life.
You may not go through all of them, but you’ll know when you’re in the difficult ones.
Here are the most common seasons:
- Single – Just you. Enjoy this season while you can.
- Married – No children yet. Possibly one on the way.
- First Child – It finally happened. You brought life into the world. Now the fun begins. This may be the season that brings the most change.
- Second Child – You did it again! Some people can’t even make a grilled cheese sandwich, and you’re over here creating life. Going from one child to two will be the biggest difference, next to going from zero to one.
- All the children! – This is the season you go through once you have your third child. From your third and on, the population in your house may change, but your season doesn’t really change much. You’re in the “married with a bunch of kiddos” season.
- Empty Nest – Eventually the children will move out on their own. Sometimes at 18, and other times at 40, but it will happen. Make sure you prepare your house and your marriage.
- Big Move – Whether you’re moving across the world, or just across state lines, this is a big step.
- Adoption – My wife and I have been through this one. It will shake things up a bit, but it’s worth it.
Here are some less common ones, but unfortunately, they happen:
- Divorce – The stage during and after going through a divorce, before the next relationship.
- Re-Marriage – A second marriage, or for the sake of this article, this also includes a first marriage when children are brought in from a previous relationship. A blended family.
- Widow/Widower – I can’t imagine how hard this would be, but we have to talk about the difficult seasons as well.
- Terminal Illness – We’ve almost all dealt with it with a loved one, but when it’s in your home, it’s a different story.
- Legal Battle – This could be a lawsuit that’s threatening your business, or it could be an accusation that’s threatening you or someone in your home with a long prison sentence. Or anything in between.
- Special-Needs Child – Whether it has to do with the mind, body or both, this will change your life.
- Child Death – Often thought of as the most difficult season you could ever have to go through. But you can make it through. I’ve personally watched people make it through and find peace.
That’s quite the list, right?
That doesn’t even scratch the surface.
And this is just the stuff life throws at you.
There are also things you may decide for yourself that will change your season:
1. Getting Out of Debt
This will be a season of minimalism.
When my wife and I got out of debt, we sold cars, moved into a 600 sq ft mobile home, and stopped eating out almost entirely.
Depending on your level of sacrifice, this will be a different kind of season.
2. Losing a Lot of Weight
If you need to lose weight for health reasons, you probably fall into this season.
It’s going to mean a change in your eating habits, and your exercise regiment.
It will take focus, but it’s definitely doable.
3. Starting a Business
Long hours are likely in your future, at least for a while.
The most important thing here is to remember to cut your hours back once your business starts to get off the ground.
Set a specific time frame, like one or two years, and cut back once you hit that mark.
Adapting to Life
So now that I’ve spent an article’s worth of words just describing what some of the different seasons are, how do we handle them?
Well, the first step is to know and actually recognize which season you’re in.
Once you’ve accepted that, realize that your season has limiting factors.
Now you’re ready to plan.
Life is funny, because we don’t realize how much time we have when we’re single until we get married.
Then we don’t realize our freedom as a young married couple until we have kids.
We don’t realize how “easy” one child is until we have two.
And it goes on and on…
Of course, that’s the nature of life.
A parent can tell a single person about how much time they have, but we need to actually experience it to fully understand.
I’m sure life is like that for a reason, but I have figured out the reason yet.
As a single person, you may feel like you don’t have much free time.
You’ve likely filled your schedule full on your own accord.
People tell me all the time: “I don’t know how you guys do everything you do with four kids.”
My response is always the same: “You’d do it too if you were in my shoes.”
Limiting Factors and Life Planning
The limiting factors are what determine how you live in your season.
Once you accept your season, it’s easy to plan.
Just know that, the more limiting factors, the more planning is involved.
In short, I’m married with four children.
I’m active duty military (long hours, some weekends).
I’m a full-time college student.
I write for several websites and run this blog.
I’m actively involved in helping out in my community.
And we love to travel throughout Europe.
Yes, I have a lot going on.
So how do I manage to handle it all without snapping?
Honestly, that’s it.
And that’s how you should handle the season you’re in.
I’m going to give you some practical tips and application, but that’s the gist of it: plan.
I’m all about practical application, so let’s go over some specific seasons.
1. Single Season
Look at your married friends and friends with kids.
Try to realize how much time you have.
Right now, it’s all about you.
You may not feel like it, but it is.
This is the perfect season to do something like this:
- Write a book
- Build a successful career
- Start a business or a side hustle and go all in
- Find your ideal mate for marriage
- Spend a lot of time with friends
- Devote yourself to a cause that’s bigger than yourself (e.g. missionary work, Peace Corps, military, etc.)
You have the time to do something big right now, something that takes a lot of time. Use all of the time you have while you have it.
2. Married Season
It’s not all about you anymore.
But you’ve still got a lot of time.
You’re looking for a home, and making big life decisions like career choices, location choices, and whether or not to have kids.
You have a lot of decisions to make with your spouse.
This is the perfect season to do something like this:
- Get to know your spouse and develop a deep relationship
- Attend marriage seminars to strengthen your bond
- Figure out where you want to live your life
- Get your house in order and make career decisions
- Have an active social life and develop relationships with other couples
- Start a side hustle that doesn’t compete with your spouse for attention
You still have a lot of time. Use it wisely.
A child is coming.
A wise person once said, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”
3. Child Season
This is the biggest change you’ve experienced so far.
Don’t worry though.
You’ll go through periods where you feel like you have no time, especially in the very beginning, but these are temporary.
You will start to get your time back soon.
It is kind of weird to go from living alone to living with your spouse, but you’ve been living with other people your whole life.
It’s unlikely that you’ve been taking care of children your whole life, though some big brothers and sisters are disagreeing right now.
Hopefully you’ve prepared for this season financially and physically, but even if you aren’t prepared, you’ve got this.
Thousands of children are brought into this world every day to parents who aren’t prepared.
Honestly, it’s impossible to fully prepare for your first child, but any advance planning you do will help you tremendously.
You may feel like your life is over and your free time is gone now, but that’s not the case at all.
Your priorities may have changed, but that’s it.
This is the perfect season to do something like this:
- Focus on your family, spending time together and getting your house in order
- Start a side hustle that doesn’t interfere with family time (i.e. early mornings or late nights)
- Work to provide for your family, but it’s not the season to work 100 hours a week
You should be focusing on your family right now.
Especially in the early years.
I constantly had people telling me I was working too much when I first started my family, but I kept saying “I’ll cut back once I _______” or “I’m just working this hard now, but I won’t continue like this forever.”
I didn’t continue like that forever, but I missed a lot of my first daughter’s early years due to my work, and I can’t get that time back.
I wish I would’ve listened and cut back then, instead of years later.
Take it from someone who has been there.
Don’t use these years to make all the money you can, use them to be with your family.
You’ll thank me later.
You don’t need as much money as you think you do.
Try to cut your expenses instead.
Adoption: I could write an entire series about adoption.
It’s been one of the most rewarding things we’ve ever done.
But as far as seasons, it’s really just about taking the time to allow the adopted children to adapt.
Don’t rush the process.
Depending on their age(s), it will take more, less time or no time, but you should allow for that time.
That’s the important thing in relation to life seasons.
4. Empty Nest Season
I don’t want to say much here, because I am far from this stage.
In fact, if you’re in this stage, please provide all of the wisdom you have in the comments!
That would help to complete this far-from-complete article.
By the time you reach this stage, you probably have a good idea as to what you want to do with the rest of your life.
For my wife and I, we plan for me to be retired from the military at this point, and we want to travel.
This is the perfect season to do something like this:
- Travel the country or the world
- Get your house exactly like you want it
- Write that book, create that product, or whatever else you’ve been putting off
- Do the things you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t found the time for
This is probably the stage where you can appreciate the amount of time you have above all other stages.
You should be able to do anything you want!
5. Special Seasons
For the sake of time and space, when I say “special seasons,” I’m referring to every season other than the basic single, married, children and empty nest seasons.
The main thing the other seasons have in common is this: something fairly rare and/or unexpected comes into your life, and you must make it your priority whether you want to or not.
Most of the time, you should be focusing on getting through this season and not much outside of that.
Whether it’s moving out of your town, divorce, re-marriage, grieving a loss or awaiting legal results, you will have to put most of your attention towards this season.
Don’t focus on doing much outside of this, and you’ll get through it faster and easier.
I don’t want to talk on seasons that I don’t have much experience in, but I do want to briefly touch of them, because there’s a good chance you’re going through one of these difficult seasons right now…
Seasons That Change the Rest of Your Life
Again, I want to touch on a few things here, but I must admit that I haven’t dealt with these personally:
- A special needs child
- Terminal illness
- Losing a child
What do these have in common?
They all alter the rest of your life and they’re unexpected.
Whether the terminal illness applies to you, your spouse or a child, it will affect you similarly.
1. Special Needs Child
My wife has a heart for people, especially children, with special needs, and with God working the way He does in our life, it wouldn’t surprise me if He entrusted a special needs child to us.
But for now, we haven’t had direct experience with this.
The most important part of caring for another person who requires a lot of attention, whether a special needs child or an ill parent, is that you must see the experience as day-to-day.
The main thing I’ve heard from people who have personally dealt with this, and I know several people who have, is that you can’t look at it from a lifelong perspective.
Don’t ask “Can I really take care of this person for the rest of their life?”
Ask “Can I take care of this person today?” I guarantee the answer will always be “yes.”
Day-to-day thinking will help you appreciate your time with them and keep you from getting overwhelmed.
Also, reach out to your support network.
Family and friends often come through in large numbers for people who face times such as these.
If you don’t have a strong enough support network, reach out to some different organizations or groups online who are going through the same thing you’re going through.
2. Terminal Illness
I’m referencing any terminal illness under your roof.
It could be you, your spouse, a family member or a child.
The main thing to know here is that you should give the person, even if it’s you, the fullest life imaginable.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation specializes in this, but you can also do it yourself.
Let them live out their final years by doing everything they’ve wanted to do.
It’s not about how long you live, but about how you live while you’re here.
3. Losing a Child
I think I saved this for last, because I was avoiding it.
I couldn’t imagine going through this, and if you have, let me just say that I give you my most sincere condolences.
You are an extremely strong person emotionally and even though you may not feel like it now, this experience will probably be your largest season of growth.
Personally, I have to turn to God here.
If this were to happen to me, I would pray my heart out.
I would lean on God to get me through each day and lead me into recovery, even if I never fully felt recovery (I’ve been told you never really do).
The important thing to know in situations like this is that it’s ok to be sad.
I’m not a doctor and I’m not giving medical advice, but you shouldn’t need anti-depressants if you just lost a child, you should be sad.
You have every right to be sad.
Sadness, crying, and mourning are the natural ways to begin healing.
I know that anti-depressants have their place, but let yourself grieve properly.
If you’re going through this right now, you really need to read this article by Angela Miller, someone who has experienced this.
You can also find online support like this forum to reach out to others who have experienced loss like this.
The most important takeaway from this article is to know that you must tailor advice to your season.
Take podcasts for example.
It seems like some of the most popular podcasts are delivered by fairly young, single guys.
You shouldn’t expect to be able to implement everything they’re doing if you’re no longer in the single season.
That also shouldn’t be an excuse.
You can always do more than you think you can do, but don’t try to do more than you know you should do.
So take the advice, consider the season you’re in and decide the best way to implement it.
If you’re not sure exactly how to do that, comment below and let’s talk.
I haven’t been through every season, but I’ve been through several.
And if I forgot a season that you think needs to be on here, please discuss that in the comments as well.
You may enjoy reading:
The Seasons of Life (Part 1) by Jim Rohn
The Seasons of Life (Part 2) by Jim Rohn
The Seasons of Life (Part 3) by Jim Rohn
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