Becoming Aware of Transitions
You get out of bed. Wander into the bathroom. Take a shower. Enter the kitchen. Check on the kids– are they awake yet?! Help pack lunches. Grab bags/planners/coffee. Run out the door.
So, that was just a few of the transitions you go through in a morning. Stop. Breathe. Feel. Do you notice how the energy of this list lands with you?
You are aware of your to-do list and the many roles you play in a day. You hold a great deal of information in your head at once. Parents often share about that managing so much feels exhausting, thankless, tiring, monotonous, busy, and so on. And, parents share that they find joy, inspiration, and gratitude in the bigger picture. You find peace in the workload of parenting as you remember that you are nurturing and supporting your teen along their unique journey.
This full spectrum of sensations is welcome here.
Today, I invite you to notice the many and diverse transitions you experience in a day. Transitions are shifts in time, place, space, location, role, or task. Furthermore, each one requires the investment of energy, whether or not we are aware of it. Some transitions are typical, like those mentioned above, and others are rare or situational– moving homes, changing schools, losing a loved one, adopting a family pet.
Write a list of transitions. You may consider looking at different parts of the day or seasons of the year. This catalog of transitions is an invitation to give yourself credit for enduring so many changes! You are resilient!
During back to school season, you have likely been surrounding by a lot of energy. Moreover, this transition may have drained you. Know that you are not alone AND that there are accessible ways for you to refuel.
The Power of Slowing Down
Slowing down is the most effective way to help yourself refuel. Because you can’t stop daily life, you can’t stop transitions. However, you can get intentional about slowing yourself and your family down.
When you slow down, you create time and space for yourself and your family. You decrease the energy drain. Additionally, you can think through the inevitable challenges with greater clarity.
When you choose to operate at a slower, steadier pace, you will be able to recognize the signs your body is giving you. For example, you are more likely to notice when you are feeling tired. Consequently, you are more likely to reach out to your support system when needed.
Now, it’s time to make this philosophy more practical. For starters, you might look at the list of transitions you made at the beginning. Consider the following: Where can I add a buffer between tasks/roles? Where can I slow down? And as you account for this slower pace, think: What can I eliminate?
Below, you will find a list of specific practices for slowing down. Many of these are part of my personal practice and others are ideas that clients and colleagues have shared with me. Take note of anything on this list that resonates with you, as well as anything that doesn’t resonate with you. These noticings can help you dig even deeper into your study of transitions and your plans for moving forward slowly and mindfully.
20 Ways to Slow Down through Life’s Transitions
- Wake up 10-15 minutes earlier. Give yourself time to read, meditate, sit in silence, or knit.
- Put screens away during meal times AND during coffee/tea time. Savor each bite, each sip.
- Leave your home 10-15 minutes early as often as you can.
- Schedule time to check emails and/or social media. Keep these tasks contained, rather than using them to “multitask” or distract yourself.
- Read (or re-read) books with real, paper pages.
- Block off full or half days that you commit to leaving unscheduled.
- Turn podcasts and audiobooks off. Leave space for quiet.
- Visit museums or art galleries. Move slowly from item to item.
- Spend time in nature. Take a walk, sit on a porch, open the window, or stand barefoot in your yard.
- Explore breathwork practices.
- Give yourself an extra 20-30 minutes for bedtime routines and self-care.
- Say no to extra commitments or opportunities if/when you are tired. Trust yourself! There will always be other opportunities.
- Do one thing at a time. Give all of your focus to one task at a time.
- Play soothing music or om chanting in the background to help you pace yourself and your mind.
- Instead of sitting in traffic, schedule time at nearby parks, libraries, and community centers as you “wait it out.”
- Spend more time looking at the sky– clouds, stars, sunset/rise.
- Tune in to your senses when you enter a new space.
- Work by paper and pen when you can. Send letters or greeting cards, doodle, drawn.
- Create rituals for leaving and entering the home.
- Bring your mind to the body. Notice your own sensations and breath. Ask yourself what you most need in a given moment.
Your New List of Transitions
Finally, I invite you to edit, revise, revision, and recreate your list of transitions, allowing yourself to slow down. Notice what the list feels like with these changes. Share your findings and new practices with your family; create conversation about family routines and explore new ideas for slowing down.
If you’d like to go deeper in this practice or want support creating slower transitions with your family, check out these tips for engaging with your teens. As always, I’m excited to offer tools and a compassionate heart as you continue deeper on your journey, so please do stay in touch!