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Are You Transitioning with Intention and Thought?

Two weeks ago, we discussed the power of routines in helping our children—and ourselves—manage the increased emotional labor that has inevitably accompanied whatever school looks like in your house right now.

Finding routines that support predictability while remaining flexible can be a game-changer.

But if you’re anything like me, you need more than one tool in your parenting tool belt right now; being a one-trick pony just isn’t working.

Enter the power of the transition.

In the before-COVID times, we went through many transitions during our days: for many working parents and guardians, we signaled the end of personal time and the start of professional time by driving to work or hopping on the bus; our children signaled the start and the end of the school day by walking or being driven to and from school, and our family lives resumed when we walked in the door at the end of the day.

Whatever our routines, there were clear beginnings and clear endings.  And the transitions mattered.

We knew by the change in location, clothing, and company where we were in our days, and that brought comfort.  The separation between home and school or work was clear even when, in the wee hours, we found ourselves turning on our computer to answer an email or complete some unfinished task.

But that clarity is gone; the lines have blurred.  There’s often no difference between home and work/school attire, home and school/work location, and home and school/work companions.  Unless you are an essential worker (and thank you if you are), your “before” routine has likely been really disrupted.

But with a little intentionality and thought, you can recreate those transition rituals, and rebuild the boundaries.

To do that, here are a few ideas:

  1. If your family (or any significant portion of it) is all together in one home throughout the day, consider starting the day just a touch earlier so you can take a quick walk as a family unit.  Walk around the block, to the local coffee shop, in a loop, or on an out-and-back.  Where you go is far less important than the act of taking the time to connect with one another, wish each other a good day, and transition into the daytime routine.

  2. Try repeating this, or something else, at the end of your child’s school day, and perhaps again at the end of your workday.  Getting outside and breathing in some fresh air—even when it’s raining—can be a lovely way to reset your senses and calm your central nervous system.  If a walk in the rain isn’t your style, consider a quick family meeting, or even a family hug (a favorite in our house).  Check in with everyone, discuss what family work needs to be done that evening, and how everyone can pitch in, and prepare for the evening.

  3. At the end of the week, find a way to signify that for your brain and body…get takeout from your favorite food truck or pizza joint, watch a movie together, or play a game. Take a walk, take a drive, play some special tunes as you make dinner—what you do is far less important than that you do.

  4. Start your week with a family meeting.  We do ours on Sunday night, and it’s become a lovely transition ritual for us as we get ready for the week by sharing appreciations, discussing the schedule, collaboratively addressing issues, and planning something fun (there’s detailed content in The Heartful Parent Academy on how to have these meetings—check it out!).  It sets us up to move back into the “business” part of the week while taking the opportunity to connect with one another.

  5. Create your own transition rituals! Maybe you help your kindergartener transition from lunch time back to class with a quick pillow fight or tickle or help your teen transition from school time to personal time with a meditation or a parent/child exercise session.  The possibilities really are endless!

Whatever you elect to do, taking a break between the segments of your life to shift more mindfully and intentionally from one moment into the next into the next moment, appointment, or task (and teaching your children to do the same), can be grounding and restorative and help bring the lines and boundaries back into focus.

What transition rituals are working for you? here could you be more intentional?  Help me help my clients—send me your ideas!  😊

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Christy Keating is a certified parent coach,  positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.

The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.