What’s Your Clutch?


Transition is defined as the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. Often, I think we think of transition like we do of the transmissions on our car. Shifting naturally with little hick-up between one space to the other. Well, unless you learned to drive a manual car. Then, your experience of this shifting from one state to the other may be a little bit more… jumpy than those that had an automatic. I think I have experienced both kinds of transitions in my journey. The journey into summer seems to be easy, we just go from a scheduled structured busy running life to going straight into neutral. We can coast now. We don’t have to get up for anything. If breakfast isn’t until 9am or we are still in our pajamas at 10, who cares? We are just coasting and everything seems right with the world, for about a day…two at the most. The funny thing about kids, is that while they fight structure, they also need structure. So, after a day or two of sleeping in, nothing planned and doing whatever they want to do. We start getting hick-ups in our smooth sailing. We begin to get bored. So when the boredom kicks in, we need stuff to do. Places to go. People to see. Things to create. So, we begin to find our new normal, our new schedule, and our new rhythms.

For my kids when they were younger, they had a “hard time transitioning”. What people meant by this, is that they would not want to stop what they were doing and go on to the next given instruction. Sometimes this resulted in melt downs. Testing boundaries. And not having the greatest attitude for the next project they were supposed to be focused on, because they still wanted to be doing what they were told to move on from. I can relate to this. Can’t you? Our society seems to be moving in such a fast-paced world that transitioning from one thing to the next with no hick-ups seems to be a great advantage and skill we all need to survive. And we do. We transition from work, to pick up the kids, to getting them to do homework while you make dinner, and eat, then baths, bedtime stories, recap the day, and then done. Shift, shift, shift, and hopefully that all goes smoothly as possible until you collide with your bed. Others not “transitioning well” makes your ability to shift and keep going at these speeds, makes everything harder. It’s like forgetting to push the clutch in before shifting gears.

The clutch in our life, makes a huge difference. For me, I learned my kids needed a reminder, 10 and 5 minutes out, to help them prepare themselves for the change in events. Especially when it came to changing from doing something fun, like playing outside, or electronics time to doing something not so fun, like clearing the table. Prayer, worship in the car, these are the clutches in my life to prepare me for what’s next. Sometimes, I only get a song. Sometimes, I can get in some good solid 15 minutes of prayer before the kids enter my van and tell me about their day. I think we all need something to ease that shift from one space in our lives to the next. For my husband, he shifts as he drives home from work expectations and processing all the problem solving that happens there, to prepare for whatever I and the kids might throw at him when he walks in the door.

Sometimes, when we know we are about to shift into a new season, it’s important to look at our expectations and our boundaries. Every year before school starts, in my household I make new laminated checklists for my kids of their responsibilities. It’s important for the kids to see what they will need to do. I learned early on, that kids have no grid for meeting my vague expectation of a clean room. But they liked tangible easy to check off lists detailing to them what I meant by a clean room. Bed made. Clothes in the hamper. Books on shelves. Toys in bins. If I am expecting too much, we put a boundary on it. Usually a time limit in most cases for the kids. They don’t want to spend hours cleaning their rooms. So, if we break it all down to 5 minutes that we schedule bursts of cleaning, especially done to fun music like a dubstep remix of an animated song, they have a much better attitude and they can get a lot more done than they think they can, and it saves the 15 minutes of whining and complaining to try to get them to do it. It’s also good to remember, we are teaching our children and ourselves really, a process of how to progress through life. Let go of perfection. Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes progress! I don’t want my kids to think that they must do everything to this perfect standard that doesn’t allow for them to live their life. I want them to look at the messes that they have created and problem solve on how they can make it better in the time that they have. Because, really that’s all we can do, any of us.

It’s important for me, to put as much fun in our schedule and routine or little traditions in our day, so that no matter what the day may throw at us. We have a little bit that we can count on. Right after school seems to be the hardest transition for us. I am usually coming from a quiet peaceful environment and entering a loud and chaotic environment. My children are the opposite, they just come from the chaotic hallways of kids and excitement of not having to be in school anymore, into my van. They are hungry and cranky from a long day of school. They are still processing social interactions, and if they have a sibling in the car, there’s a good chance that there will be fighting on the way home. At least that’s how it goes in my van, and I only drive or walk them a block away from their school. I am going to try something new. I am going to make a playlist of music of our favorite feel good songs, have a snack ready, and way for deciding who goes first in telling about their day. First 5 minutes in the car we sing, we snack, and we don’t talk to each other until the food hits the bloodstream and balances out. Then, we will process and talk about what we will be doing for the evening. This I hope will set us up to have a much better start of our evenings together. It’s a small thing, but it should help the transition from school to home go much smoother.

What is your clutch? How do you smooth the transition in your life from thing to thing? What are your favorite feel good song? You know the song that no matter what’s going on it makes you feel better? That’s the one you need to hear every day!