Meeting the madness that is family after a full day at work is often fraught with disaster. When the combo of exhaustion and stress meets with bickering kids, dishes and school notices it can really set things up nicely for a grand slam at home. I often wonder – how does this composed rational adult (me) so quickly descend into a deranged and hysterical person within moments of walking through the front door (also me)?
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Despite our best intentions, arriving home after dealing with the traffic, the emails, and stress of the day can often feel like diving headfirst into reactivity. So how do we manage the transition between work and home in a much calmer and more intentional way? Read on, you might find some of these ideas useful.
Shake off the work day
One of the mixed blessings of modern life is that it is much harder to leave work behind at the end of the day. These days our work follows us around in our pockets, thanks to our phones. Some jobs are harder to switch off from than others. But making the effort to intentionally ‘leave work at work’ and switch on home mode can be really helpful to prepare us for what awaits us when we walk in that door.
Embrace the commute
Talking about switching modes, the time spent stuck in traffic or wrangling public transport is actually your best friend in the transition between home and work. Use this time to change gear. Breathe out the stress and busyness of the work day and breathe in thoughts about how much you love your family. The commute gives you a chance to change gear, drop some of the intensity of the day to actively position yourself to be present when you get home.
Get yourself a ritual
It can be quite helpful to have something to ‘do’ in that first few minutes of arriving home. Something as simple as washing your hands when you first walk in the door. Or getting changed into something comfortable. Or having a shower. Or making a cup of tea. Find yourself something to do that sends a signal to your brain and your family that you are home and open for connection.
Find the off switch
The easiest thing in the world to do is to arrive home, flop on the couch and start scrolling through our phone.If we just slide in the door and head straight for the escape hatch (Facebook, the shed, the loo, the Xbox). It doesn’t help our family feel that important to us and sends a message that we are disengaged and not particularly interested in them. So leave your phone in the car, under the bed or on top of the fridge. Or better still, turn it off while you engage with your whānau.
Go big on the greetings
Try tracking them down, wherever they are hanging out in the house and give them a smile, a hug, a handshake, a greeting which says, “Hey, you’re awesome and it’s great to see you.” It’s highly likely here that your teens will give you the cold shoulder or your preschoolers will suddenly erupt into boisterous play. Don’t take it personally, take this as a compliment that they are delighted to see you.
Give yourself 10 minutes of immunity
It can be overwhelming to walk in the door and slam straight into cooking, washing, homework and who knows what else. A top tip when we feel the weight of everything to be ‘done’ is to gift yourself 10 minutes of immunity from thinking practically when you first get home. Instead of tending to all the ‘urgents’, use your free 10 minutes to engage with what is important – connection with the people you love.
A counsellor once said, “If every parent debriefed with their child at the end of each day, he would run out of clients.” True that. It might not just be us that is spent, our kids might be feeling the effects of their own pressures at school too. They need us to tune in and listen. Tuning in and listening goes a long way toward letting our kids know they are loved and important to us. Try tuning in with open questions like, “What do you reckon…?”, “Tell me what you think about…”, “Have you got any good ideas for…?”
Book a session with a Family Coach
Sometimes family life is way more challenging than we had ever imagined. We would like it to be a lot more enjoyable, if only we knew how. Family coaching is designed to meet you where you are at, whatever stage you are at on your parenting and relationship journey. We want to be on the journey with you. To find out more and to book a session, click here.