Are you in the middle of a Transition Day?. Perhaps you feel like this?
There are two types of transition days. The ones where the kids leave to go stay with their other parent and the ones where the kids come back to you.
Let’s deal with the leaving days first…
The first thing to do is ensure your remaining minutes before saying goodbye to your kids are positive. Minutes? Yes, minutes. This is your first challenge, and it is a challenge. Getting your kids packed up and ready to go to the other parent’s house is stressful and added to that, kids rarely (in my experience) cooperate when getting ready. It is hard to remain calm when your kid won’t stop what they are doing to put their shoes on and it is made doubly hard when you would rather they weren’t leaving at all.
So how do you stay calm and not have your remaining minutes with the kids be ones that are filled with yelling? Practice. Practice telling yourself that this a hard situation you are in and practice giving yourself a break if you do yell. Apologise to your child if you yell and tell them why. Then remember to say you love them and that you will see them soon. Then remind yourself that you will get many more times to practice this skill and with time it will get better.
As you are getting your child ready to go to the other parent’s house, be aware of that feeling that may be rising in you that is going to lead to yelling. This is an opportunity to remind yourself that the kids are leaving soon and it doesn’t matter if they forget stuff or are late. It’s also a good time to remember that your kids are smart and this is a perfect opportunity for them to learn about natural consequences. You can help remind them about what they will need, you can help them pack and you can be waiting for them outside for when they are ready to go. Sit down and take deep breaths while you wait.
Establish a rule with your children that they must always look you in the eye to say goodbye. There is nothing worse than having your child run off without looking back when you get to the destination, whether they leave right from your home or a place you drive them to. You do not want your last memory before a 2, 4 day or even a week long stretch without your kids to be the back of your child’s head sprinting away from you as you think to yourself – “I didn’t even get to say goodbye! What if something happens to one of us!”
Then your kids are gone – you may have to be somewhere or not. You may have decided to fill up your time so you don’t think about your missing child or you may have excess time on your hands now that they are gone. If you have excess time, you may find grief starts to seep in. Allow the grief in and sit with it for a while. Powering through an emotion or burying it will mean you never learn to deal with it. Instead, if you face it head on and give yourself a break for being sad, you will find that eventually, with time, these grief periods will get shorter in duration.
Then remind yourself that it will never go according to plan. Things happen, so don’t beat yourself up if the plan you made for “how things are now going to be next time the kids leave” does not go the way you envisioned. After all, you made that plan when the kids weren’t with you and the push and pull of a relationship with kids never goes according to your plans.
That said, don’t give up on making those plans because eventually over time parts of them will begin to creep in (in a good way), to your transition days.