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Transitions - 7 Tips to Survive the Day!

Transitions - lets have a blag about Transitions...

One of our biggest responsibilities as a parent and therefore challenges, is to teach our children how to transition. It’s a big part of Kindy/Prep (Reception) and I’m sure most of us give our kids a count down before we leave the park. Honey, we are leaving in 5 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, ok it’s time to go… you get my drift!

As I arrived at school today it was like the Devil was hanging over the place with crying kids, stressed parents, backpacks left by the entry gate with no kids in sight. It was the kind of chaos that I recognised right away just as my toddler decided that she MUST carry her own lunch bag, water bottle and walk herself. I saw it and heard it in the faces of parents all around me who whilst smiling were thinking “step the f outta my way, I’ve gotta get to work don’t you know!”

It reminded me of the days when I would drop my first born at nursery almost crying, since she was crying and I’d then run to the bus stop, catch the bus, run for a train, catch a crowded train, run for the tube (in London), catch a crowded tube and then run for my meeting or to my office. Sit down, stressed outta my mind, exhausted, usually speed talking after 3 cups of coffee and annoy the shit outta my colleagues by trying to get 9hrs work done is 6hrs, so I could run out of the office and do it all again.  Or the times I would catch the same bus, trains and tubes in my running shoes and active wear, pushing my second born infant in a pram, to a coffee shop in the centre of London.  My colleagues would arrive, I’d go into a toilet, put on a dress, heels and lipstick and go and do a client presentation while one of my colleagues sat with my baby… Then return from the meeting, change and push the pram home to make puree and clean sick off myself.

Yes, my friends this is normal…. And where are the bloody experts at the antenatal clinic when we go for our pre-birth check-ups who ask;

“Are you ready to become a mum?”

“Are you ready to become a working mum?”

“Are you ready to have total chaos in your life 24/7 and you must transition seamlessly from mum, to colleague, to friend, to wife, to paramedic, to Wiggles Fan, to lover of smashed banana, to mother Teresa?”

The answer people, is freaking NO!

There is no smiling Guru stood around in the antenatal clinic offering services to help women transition to any of these, often within seconds of each other. And no bloody posters or pamphlets that I can remember.

So how do we manage these transitions? How can we not lose ourselves completely and develop some kind of multi-personality disorder from having too many roles in any given moment? I have no idea and my husband thinks I’m crazy most of the time.

But here’s what I have learned in the past 2 years that makes sense to me and might to you as well.

1. As you get yourself ready in the morning and by that, I mean, pick the cornflakes out of your hair and put your clothes on, take a moment to find something good that’s already happened to you today. It could be simple as - “I got 5 hrs sleep instead of 3. My baby slept through the night, My partner made me coffee, Its lovely day outside etc.”  This will help release some much needed endorphines and remind you to think positively about the day.  

2. Count everyone down to leaving time. And make sure your partner and older children, if you have them, are helping.  

3. After drop off (nursery, school etc.) sit in the car/bus/tube and just close your eyes for 10-15seconds and take 5 deep breaths and say to yourself.

“I am safe!” - Why? Because for the past X number of hours, since you got out of bed you have probably been scrambling and your body responds by releasing stress hormones. You want to put a stop to these hormones ASAP and you can do that by telling yourself “I am safe!” deep breaths and repeat it 2-3 times.

Then tell yourself – “May I be Happy, May I be Well, May I live with Ease!” While continuing your deep breaths.

Hopefully that knot in your gut has now started to dissolve and dopamine is now moving around your body making you calmer and ready to transition to the next part of your day.

Now if you’ve had particularly rough morning and no sleep, you may need to take it up a notch... So first do the steps above and then go to Phase 2 – This shit needs a bigger hoover!

When it’s safe to do so (I usually wait till I get to the first red light after drop off!) Take a huge breath in, then let it out with a ROAR... Yes, roar your bloody head off and get all that tension out of the pit of your stomach!  Then switch on your chill music and continue your journey.   If you are in a crowded place it might not be possible to “roar your head off” so you can do a silent roar into your book, scarf, work bathroom – whereever you can. Just do it – you will feel the physiological effects almost immediately.  Then every time you stop at a light (or a station) consciously breathe in through your nose and out your mouth, filling up you lungs and the pit of your stomach as much as you can.  

4. Work! Transitioning to work mode is generally fairly easy, because it’s familiar and you know how to put your Game Face On. But if you’ve had a sleepless night, stress at home and generally feel like you might be sick because you are so tired – going to work with pressure and expectations is not fun and often we know we aren’t performing well so we get even more stressed.

Feeling safe at work is key to a smooth transition. Sometimes an understanding co-worker is like your best friend. Someone who has your back or someone who knows you need a cup of tea and that you forgot your purse and you don’t have any lunch and they won’t make you feel like even more of a loser than you already feel. Latch on to those people and make them part of your transition.

Work can feel very lonely after kids if you work in a fairly childless work environment or you have a high pressure job and a team to manage (god forbid you run the company).  If you don’t have the support of your colleagues and manager consider changing jobs, cutting back your hours or working from home – anything you can do to ease stress in what will be the most chaotic period of your existence.

5. Make a Grab Bag. A Grab Bag is essentially everything you need in an emergency seperate from your handbag or nappy bag! The idea for my own Grab Bag came to me early this year when I thought that I always want to have a bag in the car that has, exercise clothes, shoes, toiletries, yoga mat, swim costume and a change of clothes so that at any given moment, if I have spare moment/hour etc. I have everything on hand to exercise or relax or swim. There are no excuses that I don’t have the gear, so I’m always ready to exercise or relax without any big transition needed.

So, on a particularly crazy day – I can stop the car, get changed and have run or a swim or go to a yoga class and everything I need is in the car. Now, I admit I have the luxury of working from home, so this is a convenient concept but perhaps it could work for you as well. Lunch time walk/run/swim. It just needs to be convenient and by making the stuff you need available you can maximise any time you have to do something for yourself.  If you need to keep your grab bag under your desk at work, then do that!

6. When I arrive to pick the kids up, I sit in my car for 30-60seconds and I take deep breaths and do a quick meditation. This is called a Transition Meditation and it helps move me from work person, to mum person. I might repeat the same mantra as the morning (I am safe, I am happy, I am well) or just sit with my eyes closed and breathe and think of all the things, I’m grateful for today, including, that I get to pick up my kids from school.

Transitioning from work to home is also a challenge with tired, hungry lions in the car who are roaring at you and you know you’ve got a day’s work ahead of you at home before you can get any rest.  My car resembles a homeless person’s squat. There are clothes, water bottles, food and empty containers strewn all about. It’s a freaking pig sty, that I try to tidy and clean regularly but I allow my car to be as chaotic as it needs to be so I’ve always got everything on hand. Including a bag full of snacks for hungry lions and my Grab Bag, that lives in the car constantly refreshed with clean items whenever it’s been used.

7. Evening transitions are important as they set you up to fall asleep and not let insomnia take hold. This year I’ve made my own bed-time routine and after 5 years of not sleeping, I’m now a much more rested person. My bed time transition starts usually straight after dinner. I trade shower times with my husband so I can shower before I do the kids bedtime. After the kids are in bed, I make my herbal tea and take my night time supplements. Then I switch off most of the lights, read, stretch for 30-40minutes and listen to relaxing sleep music on YouTube.   I get into bed when I feel tired and ready to fall asleep. I very rarely watch TV and I try to limit working at night, as it stimulates me too much. I also try not to have more than 2 coffees per day and not after 10am because caffeine stays in your system for 12 hours so if you want to be asleep by 10pm don’t drink coffee at 11am.

Each of these small changes have helped me manage the chaos and be more compassionate with myself and others.

Your own transitions and routines change as your child’s does but rather than always be reactive if we recognise the transitional moments, we can be more proactive in managing them.

For now, I’m looking for the Fun in Transitions and Roaring my way through the chaos!

Thanks for you visit.  Please share this blag if you know someone that needs a hug. 

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