Yesterday I faced an epic meltdown from my oldest. It still feels like quite a shock to see him lose it, because he usually has a very mild temperament. I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that it was extreme for him.
While it was going on, I was thinking: Is this going to be life now? Is this just what four years old looks like? What if this is his true personality? What do we do about discipline? How will we deal with this? Pretty much total panic.
I sent a distress signal out into the universe via Instagram Stories, and was grateful for a response from a blogging friend, Casey. She sent me an article about transitioning to preschool, and how going back and forth between school rules and home downtime can cause emotional distress.
Um, hello? Despite all my panicked thoughts on the subject, I did not stop to think about the fact that he is going through a huge transition. From summer to school, from three days a week to five, a new class, new teachers. I had checked off the boxes of getting ready for school, and seen him through to get there. But I did not stop to consider what these changes would mean to him, or to our family.
Life is full of transition.
It happens all the time, and yet somehow, I can fail to recognize how powerful it is. I either get overwhelmed and don’t know why, or instead I try to downplay it and keep moving forward, not realizing it still takes its toll.
It’s happened with graduating, getting married, changing jobs, having kids. Somehow I think if I do all the “to-do’s”, I am totally ready to deal. And I’m usually not.
Going through a transition of your own? Or have one on the way?
Let’s talk about some truths to keep in mind.
1. Emotional and mental preparation makes a difference.
I remember talking to my counselor about an upcoming family vacation. “How’s that going to be?” was the question. “Oh, it’ll be great! I’m looking forward to it,” I instantly responded.
But after a few more questions, I realized that I hadn’t mentally prepared for it at all. For possible trouble spots that could cause conflict. For ways I could end up feeling overwhelmed and might end up frustrated or exhausted.
We first pack our bags, do all the shopping, have everything ready to go. And maybe we can even be positive in our anticipation for a change. But consider also setting yourself up for success by weighing out your expectations. You can even go deeper and think about areas that might cause trouble for you mentally or emotionally, and how you’ll be prepared to handle them.
2. Transitions deserve credit for being HARD.
While some transitions are easy, most are challenging at best, and downright difficult at worst. Often I charge through, thinking something isn’t that big of a deal. For example, with preschool. We’d already done a year; we got all of our supplies and pretty much knew what to expect.
But they’re still hard. Instead of diving straight into overwhelm or overthinking the situation, recognize how big of a role transitions can play, and how they can affect other areas of your life.
3. This too shall pass.
Again, in my crazy overthinking, I can assume the worst. With both babies and every transition they went through, whether it was a sickness or a sleep regression, I thought this was probably the turning point to how it would be forever.
Most times, that’s so not the case. The stress and confusion of a transitional time will eventually become familiar and you’ll know how to handle it. Trust that you’ll get through the hard part.
4. You are so much stronger than you think.
Those early days of parenting are wonderful and can be so hard, too. You’re trying to take care of baby’s every need and somehow keep yourself together on little sleep. There are many times you don’t know if you can do it without losing your mind.
But every step forward adds up to another day you make it through. As the kids grow older and start doing more for themselves, those early days seem like forever ago. And as new challenges approach, I feel more able to handle them, because we’ve made it through a lot.
5. Transitions help you g r o w.
Sometimes all you’re thinking during a transition is: when is this going to be over? But you can embrace the transition instead, when you keep in mind that it’s working on you. It’s helping shape you into a person more equipped to handle what’s next. It’s making you stronger and smarter for next time.
So how about you?
What truths do you need to keep in mind as you go through transition? Also, what helps you in those times?