We just got back from a lovely vacation in the Smoky Mountains. Our cabin on the mountainside was beautiful and the view was breathtaking. It was so wonderful to slow down for a while and relax. And yet, at the same time I felt a little sad. Our youngest was with us, but College Boy did not join us on vacation. And as a woman and mom, I am making my way through another stage in life. Here are 4 keys to maneuvering through life transitions that have been very helpful.
I would love to say I eagerly greet each new transition and stage in life. But I typically don’t. We all have those huge shifts in our life. Some are welcome, some confusing and other life transitions just feel different.
I became a single mom in my early twenties – not the prettiest of transitions! Between age 29 and 31, I went from a single mom to the wife and mom of a blended family of 4 , oh wait…make that now 5:) A joyous but at times stressful change! And now I am trying to find my footing as a mom to 2 adult boys, one lovely daughter-in-law and one daughter still at home.
Read here for Coping When Kids Leave Home.
Some of what I want to share I have learned through experience so far and hope to encourage you. But part of me is still processing this change I am in the middle of right now. As I share I am hoping that maybe some of my amazing readers will resonate with my current mom life and have some practical advice to offer.
As we enter different stages in life here are 4 keys to maneuvering through life transitions.
Recognize that Change Has Occurred
There is nothing worse than someone running around acting as if nothing had occurred or changed in their life…when clearly. it. has! So do yourself a favor friend and slow down long enough to recognize that change has occurred.
When I was a single parent, as much as it was a struggle, I knew I needed to make the full commitment to motherhood. Acting like I could still do what I wanted, whenever I wished was for people who were single with no kids. While I certainly didn’t forget I was single, I wanted to make sure the “mom” role came first. Again this was not a smooth transition but I did finally get my ducks in a row.
What life change or transition are you in the midst of currently? Do you need to let go of something? Perhaps you are suppose to step forward into a new role.
Give yourself some time, but let’s try to handle this with as much grace as possible, even if we are kicking and screaming on the inside!
Discover the Blessings of Your Current Transition
In the midst of my present shift, I have been trying to look at the benefits to this stage. While it is hard to “leave” some of our kids behind when we are on vacation, it certainly is cheaper!
We are taking in a few more activities than we used to be able to afford. Naturally, I would choose the kids over any fun event, but since we are here I’m trying to look at the positives.
What does your present situation allow you an opportunity to do or experience?
Some transitions may be more about growth. When my son was around 3 years old, I released my job as a flight attendant and began working a 8-4 pm job so I could be home every night. The new office job drained the life out of me.
I went through a really tough time, even struggling with anxiety I felt so overwhelmed. But I also grew so much personally and spiritually. Looking back it was a big transition for me as I became a more mature woman, serious about where I wanted my life to go. While I hope to never repeat that year, I am thankful for the personal growth it brought.
Give Yourself Space to Process
Remember that transitioning is an imperfect process.
Are you in a tough transition? Seeking out a therapist or psychiatrist may be helpful to you. Read here for the differences between a psychologist and therapist and discover your perfect fit.
Trying to parent adult kids feels tricky. How much do I hang back? I don’t want to smother, but am I a bad mom if a week went by and I realize we haven’t talked? Is it OK to have a “fun” vacation when they were not even there? These are some of the questions that float around in my head lately.
Anything new is going to take time to process. So I think it is important to give ourselves space to process.
Sometimes I need time to work through and acknowledge all my varied emotions. Other days I feel fairly comfortable in my new role.
How are you feeling about the changes you have experienced lately? Have you allowed yourself time to stop and think about things?
When I was teaching court ordered group for domestic violence offenders we had a recent life changes stress test everyone had to take. One week as the guys were taking there quiz I decided to take it too. I was in the middle of the single mom to mom to a blended family transition.
Holy cow you all! I scored off the charts. I had been feeling a little stressed. But until I started checking boxes off to account for all the recent changes I really hadn’t stopped to add them. I had gotten married, changed churches, sold my house, moved, went from full-time work to part-time, started homeschooling, became pregnant and gave birth, adjusted to new relatives and went through court.
I felt like I was going to hyperventilate just looking at it on paper. No wonder I felt stressed!
Now, I know some of you all are like, “What’s the point to thinking about everything that is stressing me? It won’t change it.” You are right. Just thinking about things won’t suddenly make them all better. But we are made to feel.
If we continually try to stuff our emotions we can get to the point where no longer feel sadness, but we also lose the ability to feel joy.
There is comfort and power in valuing ourselves enough to ponder our feelings. It gives us the space to evaluate and make better choices in the future as we think about what we are learning and what is out of our control. Allowing ourselves space to process also gives us opportunity to release some stress as we grieve a loss or forgive a hurt.
Find Friendships Within Your New Stage
It can be beneficial to find fellow travelers on the same road.
I am forever grateful for the women who took the time to answer my million questions about homeschooling. And I am thankful for the friend who gave me some awesome advice before I took on the role of step-mom.
Look around and see if you can cultivate some friendships within your new life transition. You may find encouragement in face to face friendships. But you may need to cast your net a little wider and look at various blogs or Facebook groups that offer advice for your new stage. There are so many amazing ones out there.
As a word of caution, don’t close yourself off to others not in “your” stage. I remember desperately looking around for another single mom that I could be friends with as it was a lonely place to be at times. But the few single moms I interacted with were clearly going a different direction. And I realized that while it would be briefly comforting to hang out with them, it would not be healthy.
Read here for 3 Relationships You Need for Healthy Personal Growth.
So instead, I spent most of that stage with women that were farther down the mom path. They were strong women who had so much wisdom to impart. And God also gave me a few awesome friends who though in different stages were and are dear friends!
4 Keys to Maneuvering Through Life Transitions
What has been your most recent life transition? If you are coping with kids moving out of the house what has helped you? Have you used one of these 4 keys to maneuvering through life’s transitions to help you cope? Comment below?
Oh and by the way…are you in The Reluctant Cowgirl Facebook Group?
You aren’t? Well, I would love to personally invite you to come on over and join. I share great articles from others, recent blog posts, cute animal pics and news about our farm adventures. Plus, you will meet some other wonderful women like yourself!