Managing The Transition Between Work And Home

The transition from couple with no children  to couple with children is an exciting and yet bewildering experience.A couple's relationship can be brought to near breaking point by the struggle to make the necessary adjustments that the addition of children inevitably thrusts upon you.

This is particularly apparent at the end of the working day when the key family provider comes home from a hard day's work. If you fulfill this role, you will be familiar with the demands that your partner  places upon you when you came home from work and the growing conflict between you as you struggle with feelings of resentment and abandonment. You come home feeling tired , stressed and possibly overwhelmed by your workload, preoccupied with the work day and the many demands it has made upon you. You walk in the front door tired, self-absorbed, and looking for some time to yourself.

Meanwhile, your partner has been with the children all day, attending to their needs, on the go throughout the day. Your arrival home is eagerly anticipated as your partner looks forward to some adult company and a hand with the children.

You walk in the door, looking forward to some space and possibly a nap before the evening meal but before you know it you are accosted by a harassed partner and a couple of children who clamour for your attention. Immediately your irritation goes up a few knots and before you know it, you are in the middle of another argument. How do you change this recurring drama that you go through on a daily basis?

I recently came across an article by Dr Alan Fraser, who has proposed a specific strategy for managing the transition between the workplace and home. Dr Fraser describes 3 ‘spaces' – the first space is your workplace, the second space is your home and the third space is the transition between the first and second space. It is in this third space that you want to prepare yourself for the domestic space you are anticipating as you leave the workplace.

So how do you use this third space effectively, as you travel home?
Dr Fraser ‘s strategy is simple: reflect, rest and reset.
This exercise can be done in just a few minutes or over a lengthier period .

1. Reflect:

You need to intentionally reflect on your day, looking for the things that you did well and the positive outcomes you achieved. When you notice your mind pursuing negative  thoughts, simply acknowledge the thought and then turn your mind to your reflection of what was positive in your day. By noticing the things you did well, your own sense of competence and well being will grow and you will feel more positive and relaxed.

2. Rest:

As your mind dwells on the positive aspects of your day, you will notice yourself feeling calmer and your body more relaxed.  The stress of the day is able to dissipate because in the act of reflection you have effectively calmed and grounded yourself.

3. Reset:

Now you are ready to anticipate how you want to behave as you walk in the front door of your home space. Don't underestimate the positive  impact you can have on  your interaction with your partner, simply  by making up your mind that you will walk in happy, calm and relaxed.

You will have more empathy for your partner, and be able to respond from a place of grounded-ness instead of being angry and preoccupied. In turn, your partner is more likely to feel compassion for your needs and together you will be better able to negotiate the evenings tasks before sitting down.

Why not make it your intention to  practice  this for a two week period. I would be very interested to hear your feedback.

 If you want to grow, experience wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you.

(Dr Adam Fraser is a leading researcher and behaviour expert. His latest book “The Third Space” came out in July 2012. For further information visit

Family Transitions: The Empty Nest

Geelong counselling- empty nest for families in transitionYou have invested possibly 17 – 25 years of your life into your son or daughter. The years hold memories of laughter, tears, celebration, struggle and pain. As a parent there have been times when the responsibility of raising your child has been costly and you have looked forward to the day when they would be independent and living their own life.

On other occasions, the prospect of your child leaving home may have brought with it a profound sense of loss. All of these feelings are normal and part of the human experience. It is important to acknowledge the complexity of emotions you feel as you make the adjustment to living without your adult child at home.

When our children leave home we can feel physically and emotionally empty. Our feelings are telling us that we have suffered a significant loss and we need to grieve our loss.

The period of grief is different for everyone however if you find yourself stuck in this grief for a lengthy period of time, reflect upon the following questions to help you process what your ‘stuckness' might be about.

1. What role did this child have?

A. In your family

Some examples of typical roles family members have include: ‘the peacemaker', ‘the clown', ‘the good girl', ‘the helper’, and ‘the negotiator'. When that person is no longer present to maintain their role, it upsets the equilibrium of the family unit. It takes time for the family members left behind to adjust to the change.

B. In your relationship with your partner

Frequently when couples experience unresolved issues in their relationship, a child will become the confidant and friend for one of the parents. She becomes the container of your feelings and emotions and can be relied upon to intuitively understand your needs. In this way, the couple can remain together without the tension becoming unbearable. When she leaves home, the couple are confronted with the problems that were never resolved and find themselves isolated from each other.

2. Does that child have particular significance for you?

For instance, is he

  • The youngest child, your ‘baby'?
  • The child that survived significant trauma at birth?
  • The child that reminds you of your now separated or deceased lover?
  • The child you never thought you could have?

When a child holds a particular memory or experience for us, it can be particularly distressing to ‘let go' of them.

3. What meaning do you ascribe to your child leaving home?

Leaving home is necessary for your adult child to become his own independent and separate person with his own beliefs, values and lifestyle. When we don't allow our offspring to separate from us, be it physically or emotionally, we stunt their growth as normal functioning human beings.

Sometimes a parent can feel rejected when you see your child so eagerly leave home and take on a lifestyle that may not be reflective of your own. If you can identify with this, understand that this is her opportunity to explore who she is. Neither of you want a carbon copy of yourself!

4. What other friends and interests do you have?

It is very normal to discover that in the business of raising children, you have neglected to invest in your personal development and social network. Take time to reflect upon your own hopes and dreams for the future. It may be your time to begin something that you have always wanted to do but never had the time.

You may also have neglected your relationship as a couple and feel like your living with a stranger. It is important to sit down together and talk about your hopes and dreams as you anticipate this next phase of your life together. Get to know each other again and be intentional about doing some activity together.

As you read this, you may find you identify with some of the experiences I have described. If this is the case for you, then you may find it helpful to talk to a Counsellor about your experience to help you fully understand and process your loss.

It may be the right time for you and your partner to seek Couple Counselling to ensure that this next phase of your life together is a satisfying and rewarding experience.

If there are other family members still living at home, it may be well worth you doing some Family Counselling together to talk about the changes that are occurring.

Counselling will help you to understand how your child leaving home impacts you and the people around you. It is important to talk about your experience so that you are able to process and integrate it, and identify what it is you need to do in order to move on and embrace a new beginning in your life.

If you want to grow, experience wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you.


Family Transitions: On Becoming an Adult

A common issue for many parents with young people living at home , is how to deal with behaviour that challenges parental rules and expectations.

I have 2 young people living at home and my husband and I have been intentional in our working to create the positive relationships we now enjoy with each of them. That work has been primarily about addressing our own unrealistic expectations and beliefs about how they should act and what they should be doing at any particular age.

Frequently parents come to counselling requesting that I facilitate change in their young person. I generally find that it is not the young person who must change (they already have enough on their plate) but the parents beliefs and expectations about their young person.

Here a few suggestions to think about:

1.Don't sweat the small stuff

A messy bedroom, curfews, money management , dietary habits, dress, friendships and sexuality are just some of the issues that become points of conflict with your young  person.

It is worthwhile to ask yourself if the issue that is particularly causing conflict is worth sacrificing your relationship over. In my own experience , I have come to recognize that when I am able to tolerate and accept my young persons approach to life, they are more likely to respect my approach and be willing to negotiate aspects of our living together that are causing significant problems.

Of course, where a young person is clearly at risk or putting others at risk, it is important that parents are proactive in negotiating safe boundaries, doing so with kindness and respect for them as a person.

2. Be encouraging

It is very easy to fall into the trap of speaking negatively to your young person. When we are feeling frustrated, anxious, disappointed and helpless we frequently communicate those feelings by our talk, our body language and our behaviour. Your  young person, already feeling confused and insecure about themselves, hears the message reinforced that they are a failure, incompetent, and hopeless. It is likely that they will either shut-down and not communicate with you or get angry and act out. Both of these responses are your young persons attempt to protect and defend themselves from further negativity.

Become a good detective and learn to pick up on what your young person does well. The smallest achievement can be congratulated and encouraged and your relationship will benefit.

3. Be approachable

Be available. This sounds self- explanatory however your young person is very astute at picking up whether you are emotionally as well as physically available to them. If you say you are available but continue to work on your lap-top while your young person try's to address you, you are sending a conflicting message.

Be respectful. Remember that your young person is growing towards adulthood and is wanting to be treated like an adult. Learning to contain your frustration as a parent and respect them as another adult, will in turn, encourage them to be respectful of others, including yourself.

Listen without giving advice . Have the courage to let them work it out for themselves. They might make mistakes, even fall flat on their face, but our best teacher is experience itself.

4. Trust the process

Your young person is going through a complex developmental transition . This transition, driven by the biological imperative to separate from their parent and become autonomous, is a lengthy process for human beings because the development is occurring at a number of levels; physical, cognitive, emotional, psychological and socially.

Internal chaos and confusion occurs in the young person because each aspect of the person is changing at a different rate. For instance, we know that a young male generally maturates physically and sexually before he maturates emotionally and psychologically. We also need to be aware that when any potentially traumatizing experience occurs during this stage, that one or more aspects of development are likely to be delayed.

Be patient, trust the process and remember that over time, as the developmental transition occurs, your relationship with your young adult is likely to be richer and more satisfying having  made the effort to remain connected with them through a difficult stage of life.

If you want to grow, experience wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you.