24/7: A Resource For Working Parents

Managing Transitions 

Daily transitions can be stressful for working parents and their children. One of the toughest of all transitions is “up and out” in the morning. Here are some tips that may be helpful. 

• Plan for extra time so you can match your child’s pace. Feeling rushed puts pressure on children and adds stress. So, look for ways to make your mornings less rushed. Try getting up a half an hour earlier. Get clothes, lunches and backpacks ready the night before.

• Give a preview. Talk to your child about the day ahead – that she is going to school or daycare and you are going to work. Remind her that she will spend the day with her friends and that you will see her again at the end of the day.

• Offer choices. Let your child make important choices among appropriate options like: what shirt to wear or what to take for one of their snacks,. This can help your child have a sense of control.

• Check in with the caregiver. If you take your child to school or daycare, drop-off or pick-up time can be an opportunity to have a brief chat with the teacher or caregiver about how your child is doing. You could explain, for example, if your child had a difficult morning or slept poorly the night before. At the end of the day, find out how her day went.

• Reconnect after you get home. Try to spend the first few minutes after

you return home giving your child undivided attention. Some young children would love to be held or rocked for a few minutes to reconnect. Other children might just want to be near you, doing quiet things, but able to have your attention before you get involved in chores.

Don’t be surprised if your child falls apart shortly after you pick him up from child care. This is normal. Children often save up their strong feelings all day and let them out when they get home.


Also Recommended:   How To Make Back-To-School Transitions Less Traumatic For The Entire Family By Principal Elizabeth Morley 


Other Tips for Smoother Transitions

Create routines

Daily routines that are fairly consistent help children know what to expect, which makes transition times a little easier.

Visual reminders

If there are some parts of getting ready that you want your kids to do on their own, create a chart with pictures of what you need them to do (brush teeth, get dressed, pack their backpack etc.).

The 5-minute warning

There’s nothing magic about 5 minutes – you may choose 15 minutes or a half-hour, especially for an older child. But the point is, a positive, friendly reminder of when kids need to leave or switch to another activity helps them get psychologically ready for transitions.

Use a timer

Setting the timer on your microwave clock or cell phone helps make short timelines more real for children, while providing both audio and visual cues.


Also Recommended:   KHST! Tips and Strategies Brochure Reducing child care stress page: 16-17, Transition times page: 18


Keep kids in the loop

Explain what’s happening. Make sure your children understand what is going to happen and what they need to do and when. For example, at the breakfast table, you can have a quick “here’s what’s happening today” mini meeting. If kids feel included in planning they are more likely to go along with it.

Try using music signals

There’s a reason why daycares and kindergartens use bits of music to signal transition times (e.g. sing a clean up or good bye song). The music provides a pleasant cue that reminds children that it’s time for a change. Music signals might or might not work as well in your home, but they are worth a try if you’re having trouble with transitions.

Let them take a toy

Allowing kids to choose a small toy to take with them when you have to go somewhere is comforting and gives them something nice to focus on.

Praise good behaviour

We often notice and point out when kids are dawdling or not getting ready fast enough. But be sure to point out and praise kids for when they do well with transitions!

Thank you to Workplace Strategies for Mental Health for their support of 24/7: A resource for working parents.