Miranda: Those pesky little transitions
As most mothers are painfully aware, transitions can be difficult for children — and mamas. I’m not talking about those big transitions like starting school, or moving — I’m talking specifically about those little daily leaps from one activity or focus to the next.
I’m hoping that my dear Studio Mothers community can help me with a particularly sticky transition that crops up in my schedule tree times a week. On the days that I work, my sitter leaves the house at about 4:40. I’m usually working frantically right up until the last possible moment. Then I emerge from my work space and greet my little guys (who I have likely seen at several intervals during the day).
Here’s the thing: Ironically, I almost dread this moment. I’m happy to see my little boys, and they’re happy to see me. We share hugs. But the transition is hard. I’m still in work brain, and I have a hard time switching gears. The boys are hyped up because the sitter is leaving and Mom is taking over. It’s a transition. And the big question looms: What do we do NOW? There is often a full hour or more before I need to start dinner. We usually just spend that time hanging out in the playroom, if we don’t have to get in the car to drive an older sibling somewhere. But that hour always feels awkward. I feel like I should be doing something really cool with the kids during that time. Craft projects are pretty much impossible right now, however, as the older of the two boys is 4.5 and the youngest is 18 months. We can’t yet play a board game or do anything particularly structured. I also often feel anxious about preparing dinner; will my little one “allow” me to cook? Or will he be hanging on my leg, crying for my attention, making me wish we’d just ordered pizza again?
I would really like to develop some kind of ritual for easing back into the mom role. Maybe that means stopping work five minutes earlier and getting myself sorted out and mentally prepared. Maybe it means some kind of “thing” that I do with the boys — something that I can look forward to, and they can look forward to — that will ease the transition. Maybe I need to plan that pre-dinner hour in advance, so that I feel like we’re using the time to the fullest.
One thing is for sure: I need to learn to wrap up any loose ends BEFORE the end of my work day. If I try to sneak back onto my laptop, or check mail/facebook/twitter on my iPhone, I always feel guilty and/or disaster ensues. I don’t WANT to do that. So I’m not going to do that anymore. (Stake in ground. You are all my witnesses.)
Do you have any thoughts about ways to make that time the BEST hour of the day — something I really look forward to — rather than something I feel ambivalent about? I’m hoping that if I turn this hour into what I hope it can be, dinner preparation will be easier too, because the boys will feel like they had my full attention before I start cooking. The whole evening will probably flow more smoothly if I get things off to a good start at 4:40.