Think about the upcoming handover and notice how you feel.
Notice the thoughts that come up.
Notice how your body responds to this prospect.
Navigating handovers can be the most anxiety making part of parenting after separation. There are lots of reasons that can make it difficult for you. You might be healing from the neglect or abuse you have experienced in the relationship. You might be doing your best to cope with the entrenched conflict with the other parent. You might feel unsure about how to support your child through this transition. You might feel uneasy about your child spending time with their other parent.
I want to share the best advice that I received about managing handovers: “Regardless of how the situation turns out, make sure, that when you walk away from it, you can be proud of how you showed up”. It helped me to shift my focus from worrying about the things I can’t control to working with what I can.
As I think about planning a peaceful handover, the AA prayer comes to mind: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I know that the bit about “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” can feel nearly impossible. It could be especially true if you mustered up all your courage to leave the relationship that did not serve you, only to see your child go back to that same emotional environment again and again and again.
On the other hand, it takes a whole lot more than courage to change the things you can change. It takes a belief that things can get better, desire, commitment, support, persistence, self-care. A lot of self-care.
The most rewarding thing about this approach is that as you focus on the things you can change, that area grows and expands. And the things you can’t change don’t seem as stuck and hopeless any more.
Tips for creating peaceful handovers
If you are feeling nervous about the upcoming handover – think of it as a race of your life and train for it like an Olympian:
· Take time to calm and ground yourself and bring your focus to your connection with your children. Listening to this guided relaxation before the handover can help you to focus on staying present with your children rather than getting caught into the old dynamic between you and the other parent.
· Focus on being present with your child and helping them to have a smooth transition.
· Keep it short and sweet.
· Have some phrases ready to stop yourself from being drawn into the conversations you don’t want to have during the handover, for example: “Great, I’ll think about it.”
· If you are worried about being triggered during the handover, imagine that you are surrounded by a thick glass wall that has no openings for the other parent to hook into.
· Expect it to go well. If memories of the past disasters are playing on the loop and bring up anxiety – see if you can imagine feeling calm and having an easy and smooth handover.
Don’t feel you have to do apply every single one of these tips. Pick the ones you resonate with it and give it a go. Most importantly – notice and celebrate little wins along the way. Soon they will add up to a more peaceful handover.
P.S. If you would more support with managing handovers, you can book a free consultation with me here.