Transitions (Lessons From A Toddler)
As we are moving from summer into fall, it got me thinking again about transitions. I say “again” because transitions have been a big theme around our house all summer long. Coming from someone who used to just jump into changes willy-nilly (ask me sometime about how breaking my toe led to me to move to Japan), it’s been a great exercise to try to figure out how to help someone deal with change. Even if it is just going from lunch to naptime. Seriously. As anyone with a toddler will tell you, transitioning from one activity to another can last a whole afternoon. In trying to help my son move through changes a little better, I’ve come up with some fairly reliable strategies, and then I realized that those strategies can help us all. Let me share a few:
Leave plenty of time.
Trying to rush a toddler is a bad idea, as it often makes them dig their heels in even more. Even the “easy” ones. Trust me.
As an adult, it’s good to give yourself time to adjust to any transition as well. I have recently started getting to work a little early so that I can meditate before I begin treating people. What a great way to transition from mom-Karen to acu-Karen! It has really helped me to become centered and able to focus more on the person right in front of me, instead of bringing my crazy toddler-chasing energy into the treatment room.
Have a plan. A loose one.
With a toddler, it is a good idea to have an outline to your day, but be able to redirect if things start going south. Because some days it just goes south.
As an adult, having an outline to your day can keep you focused and on task. However, I think it’s important to not be too rigid, so if one piece of your plan falls apart it doesn’t have to take out your entire day. If it’s more of an outline than a strict schedule, you can recover more easily.
Think/talk about upcoming change.
With our toddler, it is important to talk about any big change coming up, as opposed to just springing it on him. For example, potty training: First round - we went with the method that many people love; we just took off his pants and put him on the potty whenever he started to go. HUGE failure. Tears, screaming, major drama (from all parties involved). Second round - we got books from the library and read about it and talked about it for about a month. That time, potty training was all done in a couple of days, with hardly any drama.
As an adult, it can be helpful to mull over a big change for a while before implementing it. For example, if you are going to stop eating sugar it’s a good idea to come up with a game plan - clean out the pantry, come up with ideas of what to do when you are out with friends, and maybe journal about the reasons you want to give it up. Just jumping in can often lead to failure, whereas planning a bit can set you up for success. But be flexible if you fail in that plan, figure out what happened, and start over.
So, as I’m thinking about these tools for transition, I am also thinking about how I’m going to implement them in moving into the fall season.
I’m leaving myself plenty of time by thinking about it NOW. By doing so, I have enough time to prepare without feeling rushed.
I’m making a plan. What supplements should we be starting as we head into germ season? How should our food choices be changing? How are we going to handle the demands of the holidays?
I’m talking with my family about what they want for the next season, and if they need any help transitioning. We’re talking about how the weather is going to change and how we will be needing to wear warmer clothes. We’re coming up with possible fun indoor activities in case the weather is poor. And we’re all getting pretty excited because the fall is an awesome time of year!
How about you? How do you deal with change? Are you ready for the fall season? We’d love to hear!