I take my dog Lia, to the park to run every day before we go to the office. Lia is a young pit bull rescue dog, who is generally very responsive and eager to please. When it is time to leave the park, she shows me her stubborn side. She slowly lies down with her ball, pants happily and refuses to come to me. I have tried pulling on her leash, demanding loudly that she come, holding her collar, pushing on her from behind, offering treats, all to no avail. She pulls away, her collar comes off over her head. She gets up and walks three steps and parks herself again, ball in mouth, happy to lie in the cool grass indefinitely. What I have found that does work, is to walk to her and stand beside her, use our hand signal to “come with” and she will get up and walk with me to the car. (And I do give her a treat once she gets in her kennel.)
Resistance? Gone. Opposition? Disarmed.
How do you handle transitions? Are you pushing, pulling, or threatening your way through transitions with yourself or your children? Struggling exhaustedly through daily transitions? Challenged with getting ready for work/school, ending playtime to eat lunch, leaving the house to run errands, getting into the bath, starting bedtime routine? Here are 10 tips for easing transitions for yourself. They can also be applied to your children.
1. Acknowledge the transition and the feelings associated with it.
No need to over react to your feelings of overwhelm or anxiety. Just acknowledge that change is making you a little more vulnerable. Awareness is a powerful first step. Validate yourself, your children; “It is hard to put our toys away, I see that you are upset about going to lunch right now”.
2. Take a break between activities.
In daily routines, if you’re changing roles a lot (and who isn’t?), take a small break in between the activities. Sit down with a cup of tea. Listen to a song. Breath. Have a moment of silence. Change your shoes. Spritz a calming fragrance. Say a little prayer. Need ideas for taking care of yourself? click here
3. Watch when you distract.
Be aware of fear or anxiety manifesting as unproductive and unconscious distracting activities. A brief list: watching TV, flipping through magazines, biting your nails, gossiping, eating the whole bag of Oreos, calling friends to complain about how hard your life is, checking emails obsessively. Your five year old may find a million things to play with when you remind him to brush his teeth for bed time.
4. Observe your thoughts.
Be very conscious of your thoughts and how you talk to other people. Transitional times require self-care. Self-care includes watching how you talk to yourself. Create a mantra or affirmation that you can say when you find yourself slipping into dread, anxiety, or overwhelm. Say it often. Focus on the positive aspects of this shift or transition. Say it to your kids. (for more on self talk click here)
5. Make it a habit.
If you’re challenged by shifts in your daily activities, try scheduling exact times for a few of them. Many creative souls report that they schedule time to sing, write, sculpt, paint, etc. If you schedule the time, then you create a habit. When you create a habit, the part of you that needs to show up will do so more easily. For instance, your creative self gets more relaxed with showing up for that creative time.
6. Create ritual to signal your transition.
Find a ritual that formally marks transition in role or activity. When I worked in a youth correctional facility I kept a fragrant muscle rub in the car and used it on my neck as I was leaving the facility each work day, marking the end of a stressful work day and consciously signaling my body to relax, switch gears. I change clothes when I come home from the office and switch to my “mommy” role. Some folks take a shower to mark transition. Try some different rituals for yourself. Help your children identify how they can transition from school to home more smoothly.
7. Plan for change.
If you know you have some big transitions in your future, schedule your time wisely. Work in some intentional time, some writing time, or some relaxing time. Get away from every day routine.
8. Make space for beauty.
Even if my house is a disaster, and my head is spinning with things to do, I try to bring a vase of flowers into the kitchen, preferably fragrant ones. Or I step into my gardens for a moment between toddler tantrums. I need to have beauty in my world. When you’re feeling vulnerable during a transitional time, bring home a plant, or a bunch of daisies. Or light some candles at night and add peace to your environment. If you’re traveling frequently, then you are in on-going stressful change. Bring comforting beautiful items with you that represent calm, home, or family. Use aromatherapy. Find a scent that soothes and cues you to take a deep breath, let anxiety fall away.
9. Remember your center.
Clouds shift, weather systems move, and birds fly across the sky. They are always changing, like our emotions. But you are still you. You are the sky, a canvas for changing emotions and experiences, witnessing transition all around you and always there. Find your center. Visit your center during times of change, stress or uncertainty.
10. Choose change.
It may seem like changes are happening to you. Shift that belief. Make changes happen by you. Be proactive: choose to be the one who is changing. Choose to change how you look at this transition. Choose to be different and change what you have the power to! Read more on change and acceptance.
Change is the constant. The variable is you, and how you handle it- with grace and serenity, or with resistance and upset. Your choice.