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Switching from work to home

During the course of any day we all have a a range of roles. For me and for many of the professional women I work with, the roles we have are as a partner, a parent, a colleague, a friend, among many more.  The challenge being that with the many roles we have, comes the requirement to wear many hats and sometimes we forget or don’t have the capacity to take off one hat before putting on another.

What can sometimes happen as a consequence, is we move too quickly transitioning between roles.  And all too often we carry the mindset and emotional state from one activity to the next. Does this happen to you?

There is a small timeframe or gap that we have as we transition between roles. It’s the time on the train or the bus heading home from the office. It’s the walk from the car to school to pick up kids. It’s the drive from home to meet friends for an evening out.  It’s during this time we have the opportunity to let go of the stress, focus or energy required for that role, and to hit the refresh button. So instead of bringing home any negative or energy consuming emotions, we have the opportunity to carefully take off one hat, to then gently put on another. As a result we show up in our next role and we show up well, allowing us to be present and in the moment.

Too many times I have caught myself finishing off a phone call while in the car as I arrive home and I don’t leave myself any time to finish one role before starting my next. Instead my transition is done in the presence of my children, as I sneakily check emails, while chatting about their day.  Similarly for many working mothers, if they haven’t transitioned as they head home from the office, the change in role to mother, partner, chef, homework checker, etc, can be confronting and leave many with the feeling they are doing neither role well.

As we transition between our different roles, like worker to mother, each stage requires a recalibration of emotions, energy and focus. However brief, that time can be used wisely to ensure we show up to each role with clear intention, purpose and clarity.

Dr Adam Fraser, author of The Third Space, suggests a strategy to be used during the transition period to ensure you show up in your next role.

Reflect: How was your day, your time and what wins did you have? This is the time for reflecting on what you’ve achieved. This is a step many leaders I work with do not consciously make time for, and when they do, find they have achieved much more during their week than originally thought.

Rest: This could be a few moments or a period of time to switch off, to be in a neutral zone, to read a article, listen to music, to breathe deeply and to be calm and relaxed. Simply be in the moment.

Reset: Time for the new hat! This is about planning how you want to be your new role, how you want to show up. Check in to what your internal voice is saying, e.g. ”I’m going to be a happy and calm mum”.  Hold that picture clearly in your mind and don’t let any of the other emotions from your previous hat, slip back in and impact this.

It’s not just about showing up, it’s about how you show up. Choose to give yourself permission and take a few minutes to reset, to make sure you show up well. Find a way that works for you to allow you the space you need.  For me when I get home it can be as simple as putting my phone on silent in my bag and embracing the energy when I walk through the door.

 




  1. Great article Jayne. This is the challenge for so many working parents. We have recently moved our offices to Manukau so my commute means an extra hour approx. driving per day at least 3 days per week. I am using that time to chat to friends hands-free and listen to inspirational CDs. I have to say I am feeling so much better in myself and when I do get home I am able to focus more on the kids as I am either “talked out” or have had a break from thinking about work. I have also spent time thinking about the positive, interesting things. A great transition. Feeling more in control. So even though I was not happy about the move there is definitely an upside.

    Comment by Helen Corban — July 1, 2014 at 11:44

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