Falling into transitions

Being that it is officially Fall now, I have been thinking a lot about change. From the moment when the leaves start to turn here in the North East, a period of transition is happening. Nature settles into the cold weather and soon enough the trees will be entirely bare. The wonderful thing about the seasons is that even while shoveling snow in the dead of winter, the promise of spring and warm weather is always on the eventual horizon.

I think one of the hardest things about being a parent is dealing with transition. It could be a transition from one job to the next, or moving to a new home, or even just to a new stage of life. It could be adding a sibling, the death of a family member, or a removal of a toxic person from your life. It could even be something as simple as a change in bedtime or trying a new approach to an after school routine.

Children are more resilient than we think most of the time, but there will always be periods of adjustment, and of course the lovely and always present parental guilt we carry. We often times internalize the change more than our little ones do. As we are juggling everything, trying to stay one step ahead of any issue that may arise, we do our best and take each problem as it comes. After all,  that is all we can really do.

Recently, in my family, we have had a series of events which has created a need to transition.  We moved a few months ago to a brand new school district and we have now come to realize that we need to move again- this time mid school year. Just thinking about it gives me anxiety and sends me into a panic attack.  My children are incredibly good at making new friends and they are fairly well adjusted, but two moves in under a year is a lot.  It is devastating to me personally that we have to do this, but without much choice- this is the only option.

This has given me tons of parental guilt,  and I started to feel myself cave from the weight.* I was fearful that my children might notice a difference in my behavior, since we have not yet discussed anything with them ( We won’t until we know the final game plan.) So I have started looking up ways to cope with the stress, and thought I might share them in case anyone else might be going through a similar feeling of distress. Here are some of my tactics I have developed to help myself and my children.

* Suppressing your feelings is never the way to go, if you find yourself in a real crisis situation or in need of someone to talk to, call 1-800-273-8255.

- Acceptance
This is one of the most difficult things to master, but also one of the most fulfilling.  Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “ Have I done everything I can to handle my situation in this moment?”  I would be willing to guess that nine times out of ten the answer is yes. Once you find that yes, exhale and find peace in the idea that there is nothing more you can do at this time. Things may be hard, but you are at the point where you can just keep trucking and try to enjoy all of your life as it is.  Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to do more. Enjoy today!

- Deep breathing/ meditation
People often do not consider the benefit of taking a moment and just taking a nice deep breath.  It’s such a simple thing, but closing your eyes and breathing is such an important skill to employ.  I have never been someone who excelled at yoga or meditation. After realizing that when I find myself hitting a peak in anxiety I was holding my breath, I learned to make a point to stop everything. I now close my eyes and visualize my lungs filling up with air. It’s a skill I have started using with my children as well.

- Rearrange your perception of the situation 
I realize this is not always a possibility and certainly not the easiest thing to do, but sometimes just taking a step back and finding the silver lining to a situation can have a calming effect. I will often times make a list of the pros in a situation just to gain perspective and demonstrate to myself that there is more than just negative energy to a situation. This is also a useful technique with children, as they have an easier time re-centering themselves after seeing real evidence of the positive aspects to things.

-Lean on your support system
I have always found that I feel better about anything that is going on in my life after having a good old fashioned vent session with a friend. Sometimes talking it out and hearing your problems out loud can bring new clarity, and of course bouncing ideas off another trusted individual never hurts. It is also a great exercise in communication for your children. Teach your children to find value in those they can turn to and trust, and to find open lines of communication  through self expression. In a world where people are talking less and less, I think this skill is absolutely invaluable.

- Reassurance and words of encouragement
When children go through periods of transition and stress, they can become unsure of themselves and even develop low self-esteem. It is of utmost importance that in these times we take the extra time to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Whether it be about school-work, a sport, or even for good behavior; the extra support and boost to their self esteem is something they can internalize and think about even if they have a heavy load on their mind.

Whatever you have going on in you and your children’s lives, I wish you luck and hope that you have an easy time in whatever transition you are going through. Please remember that no man is an island and things do get better.


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