Help Your Child Deal With Change
You may have noticed that I have been a little MIA here recently... My children have noticed it too! This has been a time of great change around our house. For the first time in over a decade, I now have a job that is not a work at home position. In other words, for the first time that my children can remember, I'm not always there. It's been a bit of a transition period getting adjusted, one that we are still working our way through. So how do we deal when there is big change happening? What's the best way to help kids cope with these changes?
Be Upfront and Honest
Before I began working, we had a family meeting during dinner. I informed the children of my new position and what changes this would bring into our house. We talked about all the big question words - the whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys and hows. I provided them as much information as I was able. This provided them with the knowledge that they needed to mentally prepare themselves for the changes ahead. Fear of change, is linked closely with fear of the unknown so sometimes simply knowing what will change and how it will impact them can help ease their minds a bit.
We went over what my schedule would look like, during training and after training. We talked about how the kids would get to and from school on days when I had to work. I stopped to answer any question that they may have had, and believe me there were lots of them! We discussed guidelines and even let the kids put some input into how they wanted household things to run now that I wouldn't be there all day to do it all myself. Having the facts, arming yourself with information, feeling as though you had a say in at least a part of the decision really helped in our house!
Set a Routine
Knowing that Mommy won't be there in the mornings to help ensure that everything is ready for school really scared my girls. We were able to ease this fear a bit by creating a routine for them to follow. Having a set pattern of what needs to be done, and getting in the habit of always doing the same thing in the same order each morning, helps ensure that my girls know exactly what they need to do. Get up. Wake up Daddy (who has a tendency to sleep through his alarm clock). Use bathroom. Brush Teeth. Get Dressed. Brush Hair. Dirty Laundry Down to the Laundry Room. Wake up Daddy (well, ensure that Daddy woke up and stayed up from the first time.) etc. etc. etc.
Having a visual reminder of the routine is something that really helped my girls. We found a wonderful one over at TheMomKind.com. It was a freebie I found in their resource library. If you have children on the autism spectrum, or really just children in general, that is a page that you'll definitely want to get hooked up with! My best friend Alicia actually took that printable, laminated it, added magnets to the back of the images and painted a cookie sheet for them to stick to. This made the cutest chart where the girls can move each item to the bottom section when they've finished it. No leaving for school until all the tiles have been moved down to the bottom section - that way you know you haven't missed any important steps!
Change as Little as Possible
While I might not be there in the mornings anymore, our evenings look almost exactly the same as they did before. They still come home to homework and chores, playing and family time. While change is going to happen, and sometimes you just can't help but change almost everything about the way life works, keeping some sort of similarities will give the kids the comfort of the past to keep clinging to. Knowing that no matter what changes, you will always be there and always be the same can be a bucketload of good news to a child having a breakdown over all the differences in their life.
Remind Them of Good Changes
Have your kids ever been through a situation before that started off looking bad, but worked out for good? Did you ever move to a new neighborhood where they now have new friends? Or start attending a new church that they now just adore? Did a family member ever get married and bring in a new -inlaw that the kids love to spend time with? Remind your children of the positive changes that have happened and allow them to see the possibility of a silver lining in this "cloud" as well.
It Takes a Little Time Sometimes
Just like we don't like to deal with changes that are outside of our control, kids don't either. Sometimes they take it like champs, other times they start acting like their shoe size instead of their age. Regression can be quiet normal, no matter how frustrating it is. Just like after a breakup you want to snuggle up on the couch in your pjs with a bucket of ice cream and have a meltdown, children need to be able to express their sadness and/or anger over the new changes. Allow your children to let you know how you're feeling - let them know that you understand those feelings. Don't put them down for feeling left out or unloved, just reassure them that even though circumstances are different, your love isn't! In my case, I have to keep reminding my kids that I got a job because I love them and I want to be able to help provide for them the things that they want and need, and not because I don't love them and want to be away from them. You may have to say it five times, or ten times, or ten thousand times before it finally sinks in. Just be patient with them.
Life throws us curves sometimes that even as adults we don't know how to deal with. Change is a very stressful thing sometimes, even when it is for the best. I'm super excited about the doors that my new job is opening up for me. I know that taking this opportunity really is what is right for my family and I. I also know that given time we will all adjust and learn how to balance our time and energy so that everyone gets all of the love and attention that they need, even if Mommy isn't around 24/7/365 anymore.
And that goes for you guys as well. I know that I've been completely MIA for the past couple of weeks and I truly am sorry about that. Learning to balance my time didn't come as easily to me as I thought that it would; however, I can already feel life starting to get back into a rhythm that I can deal with. This blog, you guys, are super important to me and I will strive to ensure that the time is made to keep you near the top of my priority list.
What changes has your family been through?
What tips worked best for helping your children handle those situations?