Life in Transition

transition [tran-zish-uhn]

 A going across or over. Movement, passage or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc. to another; CHANGE.

I could think of no other way to re-enter my blogging world than to acknowledge the current state of transition in the life of my family.  Since I last posted Maddie has potty trained, Cady is walking, my house has filled with boxes, we have said good-bye many of our friends, and we are awaiting our move to St. Louis next week.  It is a hard but good “going across”.  Like many of us, I hate change.

Amongst my personal angst about our upcoming transition, tonight my daughters would not go to sleep.  It was like a circus act with each taking turns performing their wines, cries and seeming sleepwalking protests.  I was frustrated. Bobby and I traded off several times each tagging the other in when we ran out of patience.  After three hours they are now asleep.  I am tired.  As I write, I realize that perhaps tonight’s transition from awake to asleep was much like my own protest to our bigger life transition that is occurring.  Perhaps my own anxiety and emotion about this BIG CHANGE is in some ways a reflection of the everyday experience children have when we expect smooth transition without predictability.

I talk to many parents who mention that they have trouble with transitional parts of the day (Mornings, after school/dinner, bedtime) and I figured that leaving you some thoughts about transitions may be personally therapeutic tonight. So here it is.  My top four tips for helping with transitions:

  1. The unknown increases our stress response (also known as our parasympathetic response).  When we don’t know what comes next it increases our blood pressure, breathing rate, muscles tighten and our digestion slows.  Giving warnings and having routines are both shown to decrease this stress level.
  2. Giving several warnings prior to transition may seem tedious but it allows our children (and ourselves) to finish up a task before we have to move on.  Think of it this way:  When we interrupt our children playing and tell them we have to leave right now it is like a boss coming into your office and telling you to get up a report to a meeting right now (a meeting you didn’t know about or prepare for).  Pretty frustrating right?  I suggest giving 5 and 2 minute warnings as well as a final “you can do one more thing”.
  3. Routine, Routine, Routine.  We are creatures of habit and establishing predictability through routine (a sequence of tasks done in a consistent order) helps us maintain homeostasis.  I usually suggest implementing a bedtime routine first and then adding routines for parts of the day that are troublesome.
  4. Above all….recognize that transition is just hard.  Allow your children to express their frustration, sadness, fear or anger about moving on (as insignificant as it may seem).  Your ability to empathize and allow appropriate expression of feelings will go a long way in teaching your child emotional regulation and recognition.

Thank you all for your continued support as our family makes our big transition.  We are excited to get to St. Louis and start this new adventure and hope that many of you can be a part of what’s to come.

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