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Mastering the Tricky Transition of Wearing Different Hats

Do you often feel like it’s hard to juggle all the different aspects of your life? Maybe you’re struggling to transition between them? It might be useful to take a step back and look at all the roles you’re playing in your life - all the different hats you’re wearing….

I’m not sure how many hats I’ve had to switch between today; mum, wife, employee, daughter - I can’t keep track.

A normal day for me will typically start like many others across the country - a whirlwind of breakfasts, uniforms, lunch boxes, and invariably missing socks, school books or something which is mysteriously needed at the last minute. (That piece of homework, or sponsor form which you didn’t know had to be in until 5 minutes before leaving home!) A stressful, but quite normal morning, firmly wearing the ‘mum’ hat for all 3 of my children, and maybe balancing my ‘work’ hat too as I make sure and pack all I need for my meetings that day, check my work phone and pack my own lunch.

Then, after the school run I can start to fully transition to my ‘work’ hat and get on with my day. But, hang on, lunchtime comes and I get a call from the school, or an email about the after school club being cancelled. So right there, with my ‘work’ hat on, I have to switch to my ‘mum’ hat for a minute and figure out how I’m going to pick everyone up that evening.

Ok all sorted, back to work.

Now at the end of the day, in reverse I immediately get thrown back into ‘mum’ mode when the child I’ve picked up has had a tricky day.

Then evening comes and I need to put on my ‘student’ hat as I’m doing an online course right now.

Then, for a little while that evening, if everyone is settled, I might have my ‘wife’ hat on for a while as we catch up on our days.

Sound familiar? I imagine lots of us have to switch between our different hats day in day out. Of course other times we might have even more - a ‘friend’ hat or ‘daughter’ hat maybe. And sometimes we might try to have more than one at a time even! This isn’t usually that successful though.

So what’s it like trying to juggle all these hats? It’s exhausting for sure, and sometimes confusing, sometimes scary because the weight of that responsibility can get to you. And absolutely it’s overwhelming.

What can we do about it?

If you’re feeling like all the hats you’re wearing at starting to overwhelm you right now, maybe try these 5 tips to get on top of things…

1.List Them

List all the hats you wear - all your roles. You could even split your work roles up if you wear different hats at work. If you’re a parent you can also think about how many hats within that you might wear (coach, nurse, teacher, taxi driver!) Recognise that all those hats come with their own responsibility, expectations and judgements. This can help to see how easy it is to get overwhelmed with it all. It’s ok to sometimes muddle the hats up, or not be able to fully give that role your full attention. By seeing the full extent of what you’re expecting of yourself, hopefully you can be more compassionate towards yourself when you’re struggling.

2. Transitions

The transition between wearing your different hats can be really difficult as you have to use different skills and knowledge for each one. Again, write down the more problematic transitions and look at how you can ease the transition a little. So for me I use the car journeys from work to the school run as a way of processing what’s gone on for me in my last role, and allow me to transition to the next one. Maybe you can create some rituals around this, a certain type of music, or if you’ve been working from home maybe making yourself a cup of tea and taking a walk in the garden can help to create a smoother transition.

3. Set Boundaries

Ask yourself if you need some boundaries in place. If you’re getting overwhelmed maybe you need some help with one or other of the roles. Perhaps someone else can do a school pick up or two. Can you enlist someone to give you a hand with parts of your day? Maybe you need to say no more often in your work if you’re someone who takes on too much. Have a think about what might help you and see if you can put it into practice. If you struggle to set boundaries in your life, see my article on how counselling can help you with boundaries for some ideas.

4. Prioritise

Sometimes you might have taken on more and more through the years meaning you don’t notice how many hats you’re now having to wear. And you may have got really good at it. But just stopping for a moment to take a breath and look at what’s happening can slow things down and give you some perspective. Which hats are most important? Which hats fulfil you the most? Which hats give you the most grief? Try to prioritise the most important ones.

5. Where’s Your Hat?

Finally, amongst all these hats you wear or roles you play, ask where are you? It can be easy when you lead a busy life, with many demands, to put yourself at the bottom of the pile. However, if you put all your time and energy into others, it can lead to exhaustion or burnout. You might even start to resent some of the hats you need to wear. See if you can find some time (even if it’s only 20 minutes) to just be you. Do something you enjoy that’s just for you and try not to feel guilty about it!

Writer's Bio


Wearing many different hats in her life, Amy Peters is a mum of 3 and an integrative counsellor working with adults and young people. With a long background in support work, she is passionate about mental wellbeing and regularly shares her knowledge and tips in her wellbeing blog. In Amy’s private practice, Newglade Counselling, she specialises in working with neurodivergent individuals and their families.

You can read more of Amy’s articles on her website or contact her via her instagram page @newgladecounselling.


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