In part three of the transitions series, we are looking at the time when everyone comes home after a day of work or school or being out in the world. Coming together again in love and without conflict is possible and totally worth following one simple rule....well, maybe two.
Transitions are almost always challenging. The really big transitions of marriage, having children, moving, and changing to a new job are what we typically think about as we consider transitions, but adult life only has a few of those big transitions; we live our real lives between these life changes. We move through our lives and schedules without major adjustments most days, but each of these normal days, whatever a normal day is, contains a few transition times that, if we're not careful, can create stress and conflict in our homes. With a bit of patience and, as my military son would say, attention to detail we can ease the stress caused by the transitions.
Elementary school teachers understand the importance of smooth transitions and it was during my years in classrooms that I learned to appreciate the subtle art of helping people change from one section of the day to another. Transitions are the point at which many students have their most difficult moments, and because I love children and families so deeply I want to share what I learned, not only as a classroom teacher but as a mother and grandmother of young children, about making those transition times easier.
I found that giving non verbal signals helps with closing out one section of a day prior to moving to the next. For parents at home these techniques come in very handy at bedtime. https://www.joyfulharborhome.com/post/the-last-moments-of-the-day-a-powerful-act-of-love-transitions-part-one
Encouragement and preparation is absolutely the key to beginning a new project or task. At home, these techniques at the beginning of each day. https://www.joyfulharborhome.com/post/all-s-well-that-begins-well-starting-the-day-in-a-harbor-home-transitions-part-two
there is one more transition that we should address before we complete this series and that is the time of day when everyone has finished with the responsibilities that they have had out in the world beyond the home, and all are back safe and sound. This can be, for many families, a time when there is nearly as much stress as during the morning rush.
Lots of children (and adults) are tired, and this can manifest itself in frantic noise or activity or bad moods or falling sound asleep just as the evening meal is ready. They (and you) may be hungry. Or dehydrated. We all know how very cranky hungry, dehydrated children (and adults) can be. So all these things combined create the potential for a challenging transition.
This transition, in order to be positive, needs a love warrior. It needs someone, maybe you, to be in charge of making the homecoming time a time of warmth, welcome, and family. So in order for you to be the best love warrior that you can be, you must come to this time of each day as prepared as you can be.
First of all, make sure that you yourself are not hungry or dehydrated. After a long day, you may be tired, but try to be mindful of this and, therefore, in control of your words so that you are contributing encouragement rather than grumpiness. I know it is not easy. It takes a great deal of self sacrifice to be the positive influence when you would rather give in to the exhaustion of the day. The rewards you will receive for this act of service may be a long time in coming, but they will be substantial. It is worth this extra push to offer your family an opportunity to follow your lead.
As with mornings, food is important. Prepping ahead of time is huge. I remember the moment when I realized that dinner comes around every evening, and yet, every evening I was unprepared for it. The moment I knew that I could change our evening atmosphere by simply being ready was the day I learned how to plan and prepare ahead of time for meals. So rule number one is: be ready. This transition happens every single day. Know what is needed and get it ready. Assign tasks to those old enough to be helpful and make a routine that works. Someone feeds the dog. Someone empties the dishwasher. Someone puts ice in everyone's glass. You may be in charge, but you should assign some of the jobs to others.
Rule number two is easy: For the first five minutes that you are all together, nothing negative is to be said. No problems, no crisis, no complaints, no whining. Just warm greetings. Any and all discussion about all the other stuff can wait a few minutes. Everyone catch a breath, and notice that you have come home to a safe harbor. You are surrounded by your family. Be grateful. Notice the blessing that surrounds you. Five minutes of nothing negative. You can do it. You will be glad.
Transitions may be where we meet our greatest challenges, but they are also where we become the strongest. When we can be a happy family in the tough times, and everyone powers through and puts their best foot forward we are becoming better and stronger and closer in every way. I have enjoyed this series on transitions. If you have a tip for getting through these transitions, share it in the comments!