Transitions Are Hard: Here are Things That Help

Transitions. It’s a struggle. As the giant executive functioning fairy went on holiday rather than delivering to our house, getting things done is hard. Changing from one activity to another is hard. Remembering to do stuff is hard.

So we hack our brains instead. Here are some things that help.

Transitions Are Hard: Here are Things That Help,
Image: Pink origami butterflies


Calendars are a darn blessing. I would be lost without them. But there are hacks to make them more effective. I use digital calendars, because they bleep at me – I don’t have to go looking for them.

When scheduling appointments or activities, don’t just put in the activity + location + time. Also put in reminders to get there.

I do:

  • a 3 hour reminder. So if we forget, it will buzz, ‘Hey you need to get your butt into gear’.
  • a 1 day reminder. That’s for the OMG that’s tomorrow? Panic reaction, and to make sure I give everyone a heads up on what we are doing the next day.
  • a 1 week reminder. This is for organisational tasks: telling Hubbie I need him to show up to something (so schedule it in his work calendar), buy a present for that party, or get that referral for the specialist appointment.

Those three are usually enough for every activity. Though if it is online rather than outside the house, I may do a 1-2 hour reminder instead.


These are hit and miss. Initially, I set all our alarms to obnoxious ring tones. It worked wonderfully…until we all hated the ringtones so much we’d swipe them away before they really started. Uh oh. Not so good.

These days I picked some of my favourite music instead. I am more likely to leave the alarm going, or snooze it instead. I like the alarm. It has positive, rather than negative memories. Also: ear worms. The music doesn’t stop when I snooze the alarm, instead it keeps ringing in my ears. That’s then associated with the task, and voilĂ ! I hacked my brain to remember to do things.

I know alarms are starting to work: both my kids have started scheduling their own alarms for things they want to do. That’s a massive bonus for me: one less task for me to remember, and good life training for them.

Transitions Are Hard: Here are Things That Help 
Image: Pink Monster with purple beanie and green pants

Pictures on the Walls

We have a series of visual steps on our walls for helping the kids remember what they need to do to get ready. Though this is still a struggle, both kids have gone back to their list when they need to, so it’s still effective. Which is lovely.

Balance Reminders + Nagging

Each of my kids need different hurry-along tactics.

My son is usually good with one reminder, and a set routine. I have found it easier to bend with his routine than to hurry him along: I just build in more time for those ‘last minute’ must dos that he needs to transition.

My daughter struggles, a lot. Reminders don’t really work, as she doesn’t have great time sense – something she gets from her mum, alack and alas. I am still a big part of her executive functioning, and she does need (gentle) reminders to go to each new step. Though I can guarantee that she will do them in a different order to the one I suggest. Every. Time.

Transitions Are Hard: Here are Things That Help, 
Image: Green spiky fidget ball

Compassion and Forgiveness

One of the main problems I have struggled with is finding something that works for both, without the methods (and the children) destructively interacting. It’s … challenging. I would love to say I’m the most patient parent in the world, but lol, no. I have organisational problems myself, and limited spoons. When I find myself getting frustrated, I find it best to remove myself from the situation. And remind the kids to do the same. We are all learning together, and that’s cool.

Transitions will probably always be hard. It’s a reality of life. For myself, if things get out of order, or I get flustered, I forget stuff. Like my phone. Or my wallet. Or food. Reminding myself to take it a step at a time, and to not push myself beyond what I can do is a work in progress. But my own failures have helped me have more patience for the struggles my kids have.

Transitions: There is No Magic Bullet

There is no magic bullet, or bullet-journal. Just me. Just us. Failure is always an option. But so is forgiveness. And that helps keep everything a little more balanced.

So, what helps you and your family with transitions?

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