What is a transition?
A transition is the process of moving from one event to another. They are temporary. They can also be maddening for children and grown ups.
Why should we pay attention to transitions?
Because it’s during moments of transition that we as parents run into the most trouble or opposition. Read through this list of examples to see if you or your child have the hardest times during these moments.
Examples of transitions:
Getting in and out of the car
Going to bed
Sitting down to dinner
Friends coming over
Arriving at the store
Leaving the park
Settling into being at home after school
School year to summer break
Being asked to stop reading when you’re engrossed in a book
Watching tv to shutting it off
Commute to work
Going into work & settling in for the day
Coming home from work
Pick up from daycare
That time after lunch
Nap time (going to sleep and waking up)
Bath time (getting in and out)
Subject to subject in the classroom
Yup, there’s a few zingers in there for sure. Transitions are challenging for many people. It’s not something many of us have been taught to think about or pay attention to, but how we handle transitions, model transition, and/or guide our children through transitions is a life lesson they will carry with them always.
If you’re seeing unbecoming behaviors around transitions, it might be time to focus on how to ease these temporary moments, learn how to make them quicker and painless, and really take a look at how YOU as a parent do or don’t handle transition.
This month’s mantra: “And that’s okay.”
One of the things we’re going to work on as parents this month is being okay with transitions. We are the ones who know what is happening next. And what is happening next is okay. We have to get a bath. We have to sit down at the table. We have to go shopping, run errands, come home from school, get picked up from daycare, etc. These things have to happen…and that’s okay.
For example, you and your toddler arrive at the grocery store. You shut off the engine and glance in the mirror with trepidation. Here we go again. Johnny Junior is notorious for not listening in the parking lot. He’s a runner. You fret. You prepare for the worst.
That transition from the car to the store feels so stressful.
But what if we made could erase some of the stress of that moment? What if we could work through that transition from the car to the store without worrying? Are there things we could do to make it easier on us (& Johnny) and also safer? Could we get rid of some of that anxiety? Absolutely!
We are the adults in any given situation who can see it for what it is: temporary and necessary. We need to go into the store to buy groceries…and that’s okay. We need to be safe in the parking lot…and that’s okay. We need to not run away from mommy…and that’s okay. We need to take a bath before bed…and that’s okay. The more at ease we are, the more calmly and confidently guide our children into the next moment, the better.
But if we’ve never learned to recognize transitions or our role as a guide for our children during them, how can we be expected to be graceful during those moments? No worries. This month’s guided journal prompts are all about providing you with the tools and thoughts to help you with transitions.
June’s guided journal prompts will be broken down by weeks:
Week 1: Observe Yourself
Week 2: Observe Your Children
Week 3: Research Transitions
Week 4: Your Family (Grace and Forgiveness)
Choose Your Goals:
Kind of like “choose your own adventure” for parents. What do YOU hope to accomplish or learn this month? Pick from this list or create your own:
* Learn how to help your children transition
* Be able to identify each individual child’s needs during transitions
* Help yourself transition more smoothly
* Help your children transition more smoothly
* Model a better attitude during transitions
* Be able to identify transitions as they are happening
* Identify your own troubles with transition and use that knowledge to help you empathize with your child during transitions
* Become genuinely okay with transitions
* Actively take on the role of guide for your children during transitions
June Week 1: Observe Yourself
This week we’ll be observing only ourselves as moms. I’m going to encourage you to identify transitions (big & little) in your everyday life.
We’re going to be honest with ourselves about how we handle transitions (gracefully, dramatically, from a place of worry, etc.) and what our expectations are of ourselves, our children, and others during transitions.
Remember to take Mommy Steps — small steps each day — as we work toward our bigger goals.
What are your daily or weekly transitions? What do they look like? Think about them. List them.
How do you handle transitions? Calmly? Frantically? A mixed bag?
How do you react?
In other words, what do you model? Do you model what you want your children to do or do you have unbecoming reactions that you don’t want them to copy?
What are some guidelines you might want to keep in mind during transitions…for example, my husband prefers not to complete items on his “honey do list” right before bed. Instead, he prefers to wind down for a significant amount of time. What are your preferences during transitions?
Thinking about your transitions list from Day 1: What are some ways you could make them more pleasant? For example, when you’re driving to and from work, could you listen to a favorite playlist, favorite radio station, or podcast? Could you make it a habit to call your mom or a good friend during that time? Brainstorm a list of ways you could make transitions more pleasant for you.
Hard and Soft Transitions
Soft transitions are something we do all the time in our daily schedule as we move through our daily rhythms. Hard transitions are the unexpected ones—last minute cancellations, unexpected visitors, interruptions in our routine. When transitions so smoothly, how do you react? When they are rough or unexpected, how do you react? How does the hard vs. soft element affect your reaction?
Do you leave enough time for your transitions? Do you have a routine or daily rhythm that includes enough time for transitions?
What are the daily transitions for your children? Bath time? Waking up? Getting in the car? Think about them. List them.
What are your expectations of your children during transitions? Do you take factors into consideration? (i.e. Age of your children? The amount of sleep or stress they are experiencing? Their interests? Personality?) Do you have different expectations for your 2 year old than your 6 year old?
How do THEY handle transitions? (List each child individually). What about when transitions are hard or soft—is that a factor?
How do YOU react to their reactions? (List each child individually).
What causes them to not transition well? Lack of preparation? Being abruptly removed from an activity they are engrossed in? Too much stimulation? Think about it. List what seems to affect each child individually.
It’s almost been a full week. Look back over this week’s journal entries. Do you see any patterns? Do the difficult transitions happen at the same time of day? During the same activity? Do you see any triggers for cooperative or negative reactions during transitions?
Do your children have a harder time with transitions when they are hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Not sleeping well? What role do basic needs like hunger, thirst, and being tired play in their attitude during transitions?
June Week 3: Research Transition
I’ll be sharing a lot of articles this week on Transition as it relates to children and parenting.
I highly encourage you to look back at your week 1 and week 2 and identify the transitions that YOU and YOUR family are going through and what areas you want to work on that are specific to you. Then do your own research this week.
Read the articles shared on the yayamamas Facebook page or do an online search for what your family needs. I can’t guarantee this will give you any answers or even the right ones for you…but it can give you some thinking points. Every family is different. Look back over your observations to gain insight specific to you.
Review Your Transitions
Do an online search as mentioned above. Write down research points that jump out at you or ring true.
What if you took some time to organize our transitions…would it be helpful? Getting things ready the night before? Have the bath stuff out? Meal plan? Find ways to involve your children in prep work for transitions, write them down.
Emotions & Transitions
Everyone is allowed to feel the way they do about life. Even children. Especially children. Acknowledge emotions. Even in young kids (i.e. “You’re really mad right now. You don’t want to do that.”) Acknowledging that you understand how someone is feeling strengthens your connection with that person. As a parent, you can still hold the boundary and guide them through transitions while showing you understand how they feel about them. How could you shift your perspective about transition and emotion? How could you acknowledge your children’s emotions more?
I have good news. Transitions are temporary by nature. If you feel stuck in a transition, know that it will end soon. Try to keep this in mind when transitions arise. They are bridges. You are the guide. Write this 100 times. Just kidding. You don’t have time to do that, but write it at least once.
Transition Tool: Markers
There are moments of transition that are just part of our daily routines. We can “mark” these shifts for ourselves and children by having something you say, sing, or do every time that signals an expected change is coming. Markers take your routine to the next level. For example, as our family walks into the homeschool room each morning, I start to sing the ABC song. The girls sing along. This simple marker during our routine helps them shift into school mode.
Markers create a feeling of security when done consistently. Security is key during transitions.
I repeat, security is key.
Security in you as a confident leader, predictable routines, consistency, calm, etc. Need to know more? Include markers in your research this week. What markers could you use to make transitions more obvious and pleasant?
In week 1 we talked about what kind of model you are during transitions. Has what you model shifted during these past weeks? Write about any shifts or improvements you’ve noticed because of changes in you.
Ask for Help
Sometimes giving children an active role during transitions (i.e. “Here, can you please carry this to the car for me?”) helps ease transitions. Make them active participants. Give them a task as you move from one activity to the next. List ways you could involve each of them individually in the transitions.
June Week 4: Applying What You’ve Learned
Grace & Forgiveness (for yourself and family)
Grace for You
Show yourself some grace as you’re learning how to handle transitions better. You’ve learned a lot over the past 3 weeks and applying it plus being patient and flexible are all going to take some time and practice. Extend grace. Write yourself a note…what have you learned? What changes do you have to be proud of?
Grace for Others
Show each other grace. Show your family some grace. Write about how you can or do extend grace to your children during transitions.
Bring your family in on your transition work. One easy way to include them is to go over the schedule as part of meal time conversations. Keep everyone in the loop. Remind everyone at dinner time what tomorrow’s schedule looks like. This can be short term (what is expected after dinner) and long term (this is what’s happening tomorrow or later in the week). Set each other up for success. Especially your children. Give it a try. Journal about their reactions, what’s working with this method, what’s not, etc.
Point out transitions. When you see one coming or one sneaks up on you, say it out loud. Point it out. Be obvious. Let everyone in on what you’re noticing (i.e. “We are having a rough transition right now. It’s feeling hard to leave the park. Give it a try. Journal about your children’s reactions to you being obvious, what’s going well, what’s not, etc.
Be forgiving during ungraceful transitions. Be the patient leader. Know that transitions are some of the most challenging spots in everyone’s day Forgive others when they don’t meet your expectations 100% of the time. Give it a try. Write about how your quickness to forgive and move on without holding a grudge does or doesn’t clear the air.
Put the markers you researched during week 3 into practice. Give it a try. Write about what works well, what doesn’t, how it helps, etc.
Guiding During Rough Transitions
So there was a fight. You and your child butted heads. Or siblings got into it with each other. There is a transition from the actual fight to the time after the fight. You have to be the guide out of that funk and back to everyday life. How quickly do you move through the negativity of a fight? How do you model that shift? Think about it. Write about it.
Thank You Day
Write a thank you, text a thank you, say a thank you.
This is our yaya tribe habit…the very first “bonus day” at the end of the month is all about expressing gratitude with a thank you in the form of a thoughtful card, text, phone call, or heartfelt conversation.
July is Tomorrow
Take some time to transition into our next topic…FUN! July is all about Family Fun and making sure this is the summer that doesn’t slip by without focusing on Fun! Write about the first thing that comes to mind when you think of FUN!