This is a post I shared with my families at the close of the past school year. As we approach the close of our school year together, I thought the information might be helpful for you with the recognition, of course, that we are in a very different situation this year. We were all thrust into a very unexpected and stressful situation, and transition has taken on a new meaning for many of us. Still, I feel called to find and provide some closure for you while in this very unprecedented situation. The reason is I believe, even during these times, that it is important that we acknowledge life changes for our children and offer some recognition of the big work and the growth they have undergone. And, even though we may feel like we are living in Groundhogs Day, life does go on. Change may look and feel different these days, but it is still inevitable and honoring changes goes a long way in helping our children learn how to honor and manage transition now and for the rest of their lives.
Embracing change and managing transition is a skill that begins early in life, yet we continue to refine and work on that skill well into adulthood. As parents, we have an added layer of managing our own process in addition to that of our child (or children!) And, lo and behold, our child’s process is rarely the same as our own. So, when change occurs, and, it inevitably does, how do we embrace the change in a way that honors everyone’s process and creates a less stressful experience for everyone in the family? I won’t pretend to have all of the answers, but I will admit that this is a topic I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, particularly because change and transition are woven into my daily fabric as a toddler guide.
Having said that, here are just a few things I’ve learned:
- Take care of yourself. I’m not always great at remembering my own needs, but I start to feel it when I don’t, and I know that I need a lot of time to process when life changes occur. Knowing that about myself, I know that I need to work extra hard during times of transition to make time for myself. What do you need? Can you make time to get quiet and figure out what would best serve you during this period of transition? I know two weeks in the Bahamas and daily massage might not be an option right now, but are there incremental steps you can take to fill your cup so you’re not running on empty? Do you need more information, less activity, increased connection with others or less? It bears repeating to say that putting your needs first will allow you to better take care of your child’s needs.
- Acknowledge your child as an independent being. Deciphering our child’s needs isn’t always easy, especially when they are pre-verbal and just learning how to identify and articulate their needs themselves. On top of this, your child is gradually growing in independence, and the push-pull they feel between autonomy and their dependence is often evident (and downright frustrating!) In short, acknowledging that your child is a unique individual with their own needs will help you remember that their process is also unique. Allowing space for their feelings and providing words for them will help both of you move forward with more ease.
- Slow down. When life feels like it’s rapidly changing, I often feel like I have to move faster and “do more” to keep up. In reality, what keeps me going, and my family, is slowing down. Remember that while you may not have control over external circumstances, you do have control over how you respond to them. Showing your child that you can choose to approach change at your own pace will demonstrate that they have the ability to create their own experiences and slowing down will keep everyone grounded in what’s important. So, how do you slow down? Learn to say no, do less while in transition, sleep in, go for long walks, simplify mealtime, skip some chores, hang out in your pajamas all day, and breathe deeply.
No matter how big or small, I just wanted to acknowledge that all change can feel significant, and I want to remind you that you can do this! It can be terrifying to think about how your child will “handle” all of the changes, but life is about change, right? Above all, remember that they have you, and, more than anything, all they need to know is that you’re in it together, and, if there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it is that you are fully committed to being there for your family. I have full confidence in them. And in you. ❤