TRANSITIONS are TOUGH!
Maybe it’s the transition from Toddlerhood to the structure of Kindergarten. Perhaps it’s going from teaching shorter hours of elementary work to longer hours in those middle school years. Possibly you are feeling the nerves of being in charge of high school documentation and feeling overwhelmed! Maybe it’s none of that, but simply going from the care free summer schedule back to sitting at the table, and working for hours together.
Whatever the case may be—transitions are tough, aren’t they? It seems every year I envision our year starting out perfectly—new books and sharpened pencils just longing to be used! All the clean and crisp charts ready to be marked off, and the grand plans for fun trips and projects! Of course in my dreams, the kids follow my plans exactly, and surely finish up right before noon so we could head to the park for lunch!
However, after seven years of homeschooling, I’ve discovered the perfect start isn’t a realistic expectation. The reality: Transitions are tough!
Last Monday was our first day. And even though I told myself to have LOW expectations, I still found myself puzzled by the tough transition. One child was in tears over math facts before 10:30am, I had raised my voice by noon, and one child was destined to be in bed before 7pm for many minor infractions throughout the day. Add to that, adjusting to getting less done around the house, talking more than usual, and misplacing a few essential things! By days end I felt like I was one of the broken crayons rolling around under the kitchen table!
Not exactly a dream start. Why? Because: Transitions are tough!
I think back to my first day of Kindergarten—nervous at all the new people and things to do. I remember my first day in the 7th grade after a big move, and the anxiety of not knowing anyone, changing classes, and finding my bus. I remember the first day of college—sitting on my bed wondering how I would manage such a big campus, difficult classes, and missing home. I remember my first day of nursing school and the weight and pressure of the workload! And I’ll never forget the sweet fall day we drove our oldest son home from the hospital two days after he was born—wondering, What now!? Oh, and then the year we decided to homeschool—Oh my word—the fear!
While our experiences may differ, we certainly have all faced the truth: Transitions are tough!
Regarding transitions, have you ever said, I can’t! I don’t know what to do! Was I wrong to do this? How will I manage? Am I the only one struggling?
As I look back over the years—all those transitions were tough! But each one brought lessons I couldn’t have learned otherwise. What I have gained, I wouldn’t trade: A dependency and deep trust in the Lord; a humility, richness, fullness, and confidence that is immeasurable.
And in time—I made friends, graduated nursing school, learned how to be a mom, and…yes, even educate our children from home!
Where would I be if I had quit? What would I have learned? What would I have missed out on?
As you enter a new school year—let me encourage you to keep these quick tips in mind to make your transition smoother:
- HAVE LOW OR NO EXPECTATIONS. Expect to explain things—over and over again. Expect everything to take longer than you thought. Expect struggle in the sitting, and the listening and the learning. Expect to not get anything done before 4pm (even a shower), because you know: Transitions are tough!
- GO SLOW. Don’t introduce everything, the first day. Take it easy, and pace yourself. We wouldn’t teach our kids to walk, eat solids, go the potty, and read on the same day. Each new thing—takes time. Give them time to warm up to an idea or concept slowly. They don’t need to adapt to their basic classes, write a essay, do an art project, learn a new chore chart, practice piano and get ready for soccer practice all on the first day!
- DWELL ON WHAT WENT RIGHT; NOT WHAT WENT WRONG. I have a bad habit of verbally spilling my day to my husband when he walks through the door. Mostly, I share the things that didn’t go well first, and then follow with all the other stuff. This week I decided to do the opposite. You wouldn’t believe how that changed his perspective on our day and especially the kids who were listening!
- BELIEVE BETTER DAYS ARE ON THE HORIZON. Don’t overthink during transition times. A few tough days doesn’t mean we need to restructure everything. It might just take some time. Instead, take a warm shower, go for a walk and get a good night’s sleep. Most problems seem better with a little perspective.