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Facing Transitions

I’ve been feeling a lot of guilt and stress lately as I deal with an unexpected and very jolting transition in my life since my daughter ended up in the hospital for two weeks after she was missing for nine excruciating hours. She just got out a few days ago, and we’ve been told one good way to help with her healing is to get her on a consistent daily routine of waking up, eating meals, taking medication, and going to bed at the same time every day.

This may sound simple for a lot of people, but for me and my family, it’s very difficult. We had a morning and bedtime routine when our kids were in elementary school, but those seemed to go out the window once our son and daughter started getting involved in a lot of activities in junior high and high school. We seemed to be always running from here to there, no time to cook or eat a meal together at our dining room table, no consistent bedtimes as kids stayed up very late to finish homework after getting home from sports or theater practice many hours after school ended.

My husband and I have both been self-employed for more than 10 years, not by choice, but we could not find steady, full-time work in our fields. So we work 7 days a week but have a lot of flexibility to take off time to coach our kids or sleep in after staying up all hours of the night to finish a project.

I have not had to report somewhere 9-5 since before my kids were born, so I’ve developed habits that suited my personality by staying up past midnight working on creative projects and skipping breakfast and lunch when my kids were in school. While I love being a spontaneous person, operating without a consistent sleep and meal schedule can be very disruptive for other people. And it may have contributed to my daughter’s mental health struggle.

So now our household is in a transition. I am determined to get up and make breakfast every morning, despite not being hungry until late afternoon. I am determined to serve dinner at the same time every night and go to sleep at a reasonable hour, despite having a business that requires me to check in with delivery drivers at 2 or 3 in the morning. Instead of staying up until all deliveries are done, I’m going to bed at midnight and waking up for the check-ins and then going back to sleep. It’s not ideal, and this whole new routine is a very uphill climb for me like transitions often are for many people. I’m trying to forgive myself when I come close to my ideal but don’t meet it, and I remain hopeful that each day will get a little easier to stick to my routine.

And that’s one of the keys of transitions. You have to recognize that a transition is not a single event; it is a bridge you are crossing from an old way to a new way. There may be one single event that put you on that bridge, but you have to recognize that you don’t have a teleporter to “beam me up” to the other end of that bridge instantly. And the bridge is a lot more zig zag than it is straight. You may feel like you are moving towards the transition, but you are actually going sideways at times. Just keep remembering that is better than going backwards, and if you are determined, you will eventually get to the other side.

So how do you become or stay determined? In my case, I was dreading getting up early and making breakfast every day. But in my mind, this new routine is a matter of life and death. I know that sounds dramatic, but in the case of my daughter, it is true. Anything we can do to help her manage her illness increases the chance that it will not take over and lead to something catastrophic.

It is the epitome of a means to an end. And that is another critical key to facing a transition in a positive way even if everything about the change feels hard and uncomfortable and daunting. You may experience some things you don’t like to get to that place after the transition that you do like.

Remember a time when you first started a new job, and you felt lost and alone and unsure of how to react to different people and different challenges? You had to deal with some people who were rude. You were embarrassed after making mistakes on tasks you were assigned. You had a longer commute that you hated. But within a few months, you knew all your co-workers’ names and even some of their spouses and kids names. You had gone out for drinks after work with a few and made some new friends. You didn’t need to be reminded about how to set up the weekly report. You had already come up with ways to streamline some of the processes you were doing. You were more confident. You had successfully completed the transition from new, untested employee to capable, comfortable colleague

It didn’t happen by the second day or probably even by the second week. But it happened eventually because it mattered to you. You liked the job. You needed the money. You wanted your boss to be happy, so you could keep working there.

Those are the things that keep you motivated through transitions. Many transitions are not life or death. But they are important to your health and happiness. Sometimes they are very painful. You may have to move out of a house you can no longer afford, because you got behind on the mortgage and now there is no way to save it. That sucks. You don’t want to leave. And moving is a huge, stressful transition. But you have to remember there is almost always an alternative that could be worse. You may not like the smaller house that you are renting further from your friends and family, but it’s far better than living in your parent’s basement or ending up in a homeless shelter. And if those things happen, they can be devastating. But it’s better than living in your car or on the street. And while everyone thinks that could never happen to them, it does happen to some people.

So no matter how difficult the transition is, you will get to the next phase, to the other side of the bridge, and you will get used to the new situation. You may not like it as much as the previous situation, or you may like it more. But you were strong enough to pick yourself up on those tough days and face that transition to keep yourself moving forward.

During some of my difficult transitions, I found I needed more time in my day to get through them -- to pack up before a move, to research my financial options when facing foreclosure. The way I was able to get more time in my day was to find someone to help me with my children. If a family member or friend drove my kids to their activities and gave them dinner afterwards, that gave me 4 precious hours I could make major progress with a transition that was critical for me and my family. I was fortunate I had family and friends to help out, because I didn’t have the money to pay for childcare. And that’s why I created MomSub, to give you access to that same kind of help -- someone nearby to watch or drive your kids for a few hours. Someone you know. Someone you trust. Available at the touch of a button.

We look forward to you joining us there to hear about your transitions and how we can help you get to the other side of that bridge. You can do this through our new playdate app. Get it here and give it a try! And invite your friends too. MomSub works even better when the moms you already know are on the app, so you can help each other without feeling guilty that you are texting, calling and emailing to ask favors. You only connect to moms who have already listed themselves as available and want their kids to interact with others for some social time -- or for some mom “me time” -- or both.

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