Here are a few quick tips to get your family through the transition from work to home:
• Preparation counts. Linda Mason suggests planning ahead – mentally and physically – for your arrival home. For example, make a list of work tasks for the next day in order to free your mind of them, and have a cup of herbal tea on your way home, to begin the slow-down process.
• Label it positive. Give this trying transition a positive name, such as "Happy Hour." Even if it’s only 10 minutes long, the attitude of leisure will have an effect. Plan for a drink, a snack, checking the mail and a brief snuggle on the couch.
• Soak away stress. Some families find that moving bath time to evening transition time works wonders. Take a bath with your preschooler, or suggest your older child bathe alone to give everyone a little quiet and free up the after-dinner hour for other activities.
• Create a "settle-in" ritual. Kids like to know what to expect, so design your own ritual. Mason suggests, for example, sitting in the rocking chair and snuggling, holding and playing with pets, going to a "cozy corner" with cushions and reading a book or collapsing on the bed with the kids for a snuggle. Some families like to light a fire in the fireplace, or get everyone into pajamas for the evening, or put on soft lights and quiet music.
• Get casual. If you have a chance to change into casual clothes before arriving home, great. If not, change when you get home so you become a cuddly mom rather than a tight-shoe-wearing businesswoman. It will help your kids feel secure that you’re in for the night. Ask your preschooler for help choosing your "play clothes."
• Designate a particular activity for transition hour every day. Set up a game board for 30 minutes before dinner, or put out a puzzle or craft. Or have the whole family take a short de-stressing walk before dinner.
• Share that one thing. Upon arriving home, let everyone share one thing that’s bursting out of them – whether it’s good, bad or funny. Follow up in more depth later.
• Draw your dinner. Tell your young child what’s on the menu and ask him to make place mats or a relevant centerpiece.
Updated August 2012