Lately life has been. . . hectic. The season shift, loss of consistent schedule, my new ventures and time away working, and a really busy work schedule for Charlie has left us all feeling a little wobbly on our feet. Charlie and I are both pretty dedicated and locked into the things that help us find calm, feel soothed, and bring us back to ourselves. But knowing how to facilitate that for my kiddos? That’s been bit harder. The effects of all this change on them have been obvious, and meeting them with empathy, lots of space for conversation, and a few specific tools have been really helping us to come through all of this season even closer and with a larger emotional vocabulary than before.
Caveats: Both Charlie and I’s side jobs are flexible. My kiddos are a little older, 6 and 8. They are also neuotypical, clear communicators, and generally even keeled little people. This is what is working with and for them, hopefully some of it will resonate for you. However, just like with adults, all children are different.
Tools to Find Calm
Through Life Transitions for Kiddos
- Slowing down as much as possible. Saying no to extra commitments for myself and trying to prioritize at least a couple days of the week to be home/with each other for a good long chunk of the day. We’ve spent this time playing together. Lego, games, coloring, and walking to the neighborhood park have been especially connecting for Charlie and the girls. For me and them it’s been yoga, baking, coloring, games, and watching British Bake Off whenever possible.
- Talking to them candidly about what’s happening and what you’re noticing. “I’m working a lot more lately. Have you been noticing that? What’re you feeling about it?” or “I’ve noticed your sis and you have been having a few more bumps during the day, what do you think is up with that?” or just really basic “You seem to be really feeling something. What is it?” Instead of ignoring the very real upheaval they’re experiencing, or covering it up with dinners out/treats and adventures, we’re (doing those things too, oops) asking them about what’s happening. Checking in with them. And believing what they say. And if they bring something up, or they don’t want to talk about something then. I remind myself (phone reminder) to check in with them later.
- Getting on their level and giving them the plan. This is going right back to everything I did with these two as toddlers. When they’re struggling, or we’re on the verge of a transition (me leaving for work when they don’t want me to go, or another day on the go when it’s clear we all need a break) I get down low on their level, ask if i can hold/hug them, and let them know exactly what the plan is. What we’re doing, what’s coming next, when we will (I will) get home, and any other important information.
- Prioritizing one on one time. This one is HARD. We’ve tried to do this forever and always struggle. But recently we’ve found the rhythm that works for our schedule and our budgets (those dates always added up!). Currently we have a night owl and a early bird. Our night owl waits will her sister asleep and then we three snuggle up, talk things through, play a short game, or watch Tasty videos together (MOTY). And the girly who wakes up bright and early? She’s her Papa’s shop helper, always plays a couple of card games with him, and enjoys breakfast with just her parents a couple mornings a week. Finding a way to make that time happen was hard to figure out, but now that we have I can see just how much it’s easing the girls.