Raise your hand if you sense discomfort in yourself or your children when it’s time to move between houses! (Ok… you don’t really have to raise your hand. That was just my attempt at an attention-grabbing intro.)
For more than three years, I’ve been there as Drake and Josh travel between their parents. For more than three years, I’ve sensed the pressure of the transition. The kids aren’t the only ones affected, I feel it myself too.
Transition = Change. Therefore, some anxiety is to be expected. And it manifests itself differently on an individual level. I typically feel excited before we pick up the boys. I’m happy to see them and eager to catch up on what they’ve been up to since our last visit. Moving toward the drop off point, I feel sad, irritable and nervous.
The boys have exhibited stress in many ways: from sullen silence to angry outbursts to upset stomachs. Boyfriend and I observed that their symptoms are exacerbated by unfamiliar circumstances (a different pickup/drop off point) or tension between their parents (a disagreement the night before). We try to keep a standard ritual on Friday and Sunday evenings and have found this softens the expression of stress.
For us, the ritual involves a familiar place to eat and sparse conversation for about twenty minutes after/before the exchange. We keep it quiet so they can adjust as needed. We’ve gotten pretty skilled at sensing the shift in vibes, so we know when they’re ready to talk about their day, week, math test, etc. And we don’t start talking until we know they’re both relaxed enough to engage in conversation.
Anticipating the anxiety is key in effectively managing transitional stress. What methods do you use to soothe the nerves?