Learning from Times of Transition

It’s ok to sit in a place where I don’t know how a transition will feel.

Michelle Hill

I’m waking up this morning feeling very different than I did this time last week.

A month ago, my girls were just starting back in school for the new 2022/23 academic year. My eldest was moving into her first day of Year 7 — her very first day in secondary school. My youngest was moving into Year 6, which is her last year in primary school. It has been a huge moment for both of them, and for me.

I’m very conscious as I write that we have been through an unprecedented month in UK history, with the change of our Prime Minister and our Monarch in the same week. But when I planned to write this blog, I obviously did not know what this month was going to include for us all.

I had planned to write a blog about what I’ve learnt about managing times of transition, so although this is written with my experience as a parent in mind, perhaps it is also relevant for others at this time, too.

Looking back to this time a couple of weeks ago, I was exhausted; emotionally spent. Managing transitions is tiring. It means new starts and excitement but also endings and goodbyes.

The last two years of living through a global pandemic has taught us a lot in our professional lives about pivoting the way we work, becoming increasingly flexible, and managing transitions across organisations.

Much of the time, transitions can lead to improvements in our lives and our organisations, but they do also involve endings. In our desire to move forwards and focus on what comes next, we often avoid attending to this part of the process or acknowledging the losses involved.

I realised that I’d fallen into the trap of focussing on the excitement of the new: spending time with both my daughters chatting through their first days, listening to their dreams and anxieties, being a shoulder to cry on (and a cheerleader when needed) but at the same time — neglecting to focus on what was ending.

For me, this was mainly epitomised in not walking the girls to school any more or not picking them up from school. At the youngest’s primary school, it is a rite of passage that from Year 6 they can walk independently. And my daughter could not wait to start. She set off that first morning to meet a friend and start the walk to school. She was so excited, full of pride and independence. I was (and am) so proud of her.

But that morning, I also realised just how much I will miss that walk to school — holding hands, chatting about the day ahead — and that excited run over to me when she finishes, full of everything that’s happened.

I realised that in focussing on preparing them for the next step, I’d failed to prepare (and look after) myself, too.

I’ve spent some time over the month understanding the impact of this end and this new beginning on me, as a parent and as a person. I’ve been kind to myself and given myself some slack, reminding myself that it’s ok to be both sad and excited at the same time. We’re starting to build a new family routine in the morning before the girls go to school, and again when they come home. I’m loving how it’s shaping up and we are establishing it together: giving flexibility for when it changes again as new after-school activities are added.

I’m starting to establish new patterns in the morning when I now have extra time before my working day starts, and I see this as precious bonus time that wasn’t there before.

I’m learning that for every new stage the girls go through, there’s a new stage of my parenting journey, too. I’m learning that it’s ok to sit in a place where I don’t know how it feels for a bit, letting my emotions wash around me, reflecting, and putting in steps to move forward.

I manage transitions in my job all the time and this period has reminded me that the skills I acquire at work are transferable to home, just as much as the other way round.

I’m learning, and will continue to do so, ready for the next transition when it comes.


Our new website

Another important transition, moving to a site to match our growth