How Michigan Taught Me the Value of Transitions

The Livonia mom behind the weekly newsletter, Parenting Skimmed, talks change and the value of it — even if you or your kids don't see that value.

There are several reasons I love living in Michigan. But my absolute favorite reason is we get to experience all four seasons. I say this now as an adult. As a child, this wasn’t necessarily true. Just like my own children do now, I dreaded fall. It marked the end of my favorite season, summer, and the beginning of the school year.

Observing my children throughout the years, the dread of fall would start somewhere around mid-August and carry through the first few weeks of being in school. I’m sure I’m not alone when I rattle off the list of complaints parents hear: I don’t want to wake up early. I don’t want to go to school all day. I don’t want homework. I love going swimming all day with family and friends, etc.

My knee-jerk reaction was to immediately tell my kids they were wrong for complaining and that they should just be grateful. But I overlooked how I too experienced the same feelings when I was their age.

Currently, fall is my favorite season for many reasons: the cool but comfortable temperatures, the way the leaves change colors, the sunsets against the changing landscape, the return of football Sundays and the change in routine. I love the dog days of summer, but I also look forward to the return of a structured day.

At this point in my life, I appreciate the balance.

Each year as my kids began to complain in August, I would tell them to get over it or to stop complaining. Then I changed my approach. What if I use this opportunity to show them how there is a silver lining in all things, but it’s up to us to find it? Could I show them how to shift their mindset and leave room to see the positive points?

I allowed them to fully express their complaints and I listened. I reminded them that I too was once their age, and I shared the same feelings about fall.

Then I’d say to them: I know you love summer — we all do — but here are some things that you love about fall that you’re missing: Being with friends every day, school activities, playing fall sports, taking in the beauty of the leaves changing colors, the exit of humid summer days and the arrival of comfortable temperatures. I know that we love the long days of summer, but sometimes we can find ourselves bored without any routine or structure.

They begrudgingly began to nod and say, “Yeah, I guess.”

I didn’t say these things to get them to stop complaining, but to simply see that with each transition, especially undesired ones, it’s up to you to find the beauty in all things.

Transitions can be difficult, but they also give us the perfect landscape as parents to reveal a new way of thinking to our kids and ourselves. They may not see it this way now, but exposing them to the mindset that there is good in all things will help them through any challenging transition.

The changing seasons is Mother Nature’s way of reminding us that life is always in motion.

Change is inevitable, but with reflection and pause, transitions show us to appreciate the flow of life and find the beauty in each moment.

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