Workdays can be taxing, demanding, stressful and of course intellectually challenging, fun and rewarding. Coming home after your super-charged day at work, with residual issues, to do’s and expectations in your mind can make “re-entry” as the best self you want to be, tough.
Your CIAIYs require you to take on a lot of roles: there’s work you, parent you, friend you and a whole lot more. We often try and keep these identities separate, say staying in ‘work you’ mode while at work, to stay focused and be in the moment. When we keep our identity separate, something called “role blurring” is eased, but the emotional magnitude of transitioning between them is increased. So, moving from ‘work you’ to stepping in the door and being a fabulous ‘mom or dad you’ is really hard. Social Scientists have studied the stress associated with managing the many roles we play and have cracked some wisdom to help.
I was a saint at work and a crazy person when I arrived home at night. My coach told me ‘when you get home, change out of your work clothes. Take 5 minutes to change. Then see your kids.
What To Do (Bites)
Use transition spaces to your advantage
Any “in between” place (what Social Scientists call a “liminal space”) is an important slice of time. Even your commute to work and ESPECIALLY your bus/subway/car time from work, gives you the space to effectively decide what you need to leave behind before jumping into your next role. WFH? Transition rituals are maybe even more important given, literally, the blurring of home and work. Create a ritual there too. Walk around the block and return as “parent”, listen to some music, anything that gives you a break between roles.
Mark the passage from one role to another in a tangible way
Use something anthropologists call a “rite of incorporation,” a deliberate behavior or routine, to create psychological momentum and ease the burden of moving into your next role. You can change from work clothes to mom or dad clothes before you dive in with your kids. Literally stop before you walk in the door, and say to yourself “I’m moving into parent role now.” Anything that deliberately forces a mental and emotional transition kickstarts your mind into recognizing that there’s a transition going on.
Pick “only here; only now” rituals
Make these rituals exclusive to the transition and do them regularly. So, don’t wear those mom or dad clothes to work. Save that work coffee mug that you might love for work. Keep these separate and sacred – you’ll automatically start to get into that mindset when they appear.
Be conscious of activities that make it hard to get your head out of work mode, and especially those that put you in the mood you don’t want to be in when you walk in the door. Avoid that dick that ticks you off. Conversely, others use commute time to send the nice emails, texts or voicemails that recognize great work.
Remember, Queen or King no more. We love the story Indra Nyooi, former CEO of PepsiCo, tells of her mother cautioning her that at the end of the day, her first job is to be something other than the CEO she was during the day. She advised her daughter to “leave those crowns (that your jobs give you) in the garage” and put her mindset into that of mom.
It works on your way to work as well to transition in. Stop and pick up a coffee on your commute to work and consciously mark it as a transition in your mind. WFH? Deliberately create a transition routine whether that’s exiting and entering another door to your place, taking that walk around the block, something that clears and reorients your mind to be fully in work mode.