Guide to Thrive during SummerMay 18, 2021
Believe it or not, many of our school aged clients actually report worsening mental health over their summer break. That is consistent all over the country. That may seem a little backwards at first, I mean what’s better than going on vacation, sleeping in and spending the days by the pool? But, the main thing that most summers lack is routine and social outlets! Routine is so important for children (and adults alike!). While we are not recommending that you structure every moment of every day, it can be beneficial for parents and children to have a basic outline of a “normal summer day”.
As a mother myself, it can seem overwhelming to think about a whole summer with my children at home all the time. I need routine for myself too. There are different types of time that we recommend scheduling into your days to help you and your children thrive over summer. Based on the ages of your children, it could look different but the ideas are the same.
We recommend spending as much time outside being active as possible during summer. This could include playing outside, swimming, exploring a nearby creek, having picnics, playing on the playground, pretending with friends, etc.
This means time where they do something that builds their brains or grows a skill. This could include reading, reviewing some topics that interest the child, playing a musical instrument, learning a new skill. This gives a sense of mastery that is often missing during summer and crucial for mental health.
At my house we call this the “art station”. This could include painting, drawing, pretending, play-doh, whatever it is that your child does that is creative.
While older kids might balk at the idea of a “rest time”, it is so crucial. This does not mean they have to take a nap but does mean “down time” or quiet time. This is crucial for parents and children! Set a timer, start with a small increment if you need to, and tell your child they need to do something quietly in their room until the timer goes off. This can be playing independently, reading in their room, or napping.
Personal Responsibility/Sacrificial Time
This is time dedicated to helping others or taking care of home responsibilities. Summer is a great time to volunteer, visit shut-ins, clean out closets and give away unneeded items, etc. This is when our children refocus on others and fill their cup by filling other’s cups. This can also include home chores.
This just means committing to eating meals. That may sound silly, but think about how often we are rushing during the school year all around time. Meals are either skipped, unhealthy, or eaten separately. Take summer to try new recipes, commit to eating the rainbow, or just commit to eating regularly as a family.
No pressure, we can help!
While it may not always be possible to hit every category every day, it can be helpful to have a basic outline to each day. This not only helps children, but helps parents too! It also limits the never-ending “I’m bored!” “What can I do?!” If your child or teen is struggling with mental health, summer can be a great time to get started seeing a therapist. You are not competing with homework or other schedules. We would love to help if you need us!
The Real Postpartum Mood Disorder AssessmentMay 6, 2021
Every new mother has been to the doctor or pediatrician and filled out the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Many mothers “pass” that test without issue. So, they may feel as they “must not” have a postpartum mood disorder even though something feels off for them. I often have clients tell me they “definitely didn’t” have a postpartum mood disorder because they would never hurt their babies. Mama, as someone that offers therapy for mothers, I see you and hear you! But, it is so much more than that!
It is normal for you to feel sleep-deprived. It’s like your world has been turned upside down, and like you have no idea what is happening in those early days. Some experiences, thoughts, and feelings move beyond healthy adjustment to newborn life. These may become a perinatal mood disorder.
Most mothers are familiar with postpartum depression. But, many people don’t know that these mood disorders often start in the third trimester. They can include postpartum anxiety, OCD, Bipolar, Psychosis, or a hybrid mood disorder. Experts say that 1 in 5 women have a postpartum mood disorder and who knows the number of undiagnosed women. Postpartum mood disorders are the number one pregnancy complication.
What’s Normal and What’s Not?
The following behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are considered within normal limits.
- Periods of weepiness, dread, regret, and depression for the first 2 weeks postpartum
- Lack of sleep due to newborn feedings and lack of baby sleeping
- Fear about the future in general for you and your child
- Wanting to reach out for support OR wanting to isolate in the early days
On the other hand, some of the following behaviors, thoughts, and feelings could be considered indicative of perinatal mood disorder. These should be explored further with a therapist or doctor.
- Inability to sleep when you have the opportunity
- Scary thoughts or visuals involving your child
- Ruminating anxious or negative thoughts
- Feels of depression, dread, and hopelessness that last longer than 2 weeks postpartum
- Specific, irrational fears about something with your baby
You are Not Alone!
Perinatal mood disorders are COMMON and have solutions! Foundations Family Therapy and other licensed therapists in your area are trained to help you. They can help turn the infant stage into a treasured time instead of a difficult one.
We have a course designed to help especially new parents! This course will give you PRACTICAL tips to thrive during the postpartum period.
Click here to access our FREE resources for new parents!
Receive Postpartum Depression Help in Raleigh, NC, Wake Forest, NC, or Fuquay Varina, NC
Other Counseling Services Offered with Foundations Family Therapy
How To Maintain A Relationship With Your ChildAugust 14, 2020
COVID-19 has changed almost everything in our current life. It’s true that life looks different right now. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all bad! There are still good things in life and, if you think about it, some things haven’t changed at all.
Our children still need and crave our affection, attention, and affirmation. COVID-19 could provide a perfect opportunity to invest in our children like never before. Many of the distractions of our everyday lives are not present perhaps leaving more time to connect with our families.
It is important to remember that every child needs and appreciates different things from their parents. During this season, here are some ideas to maintain your relationship with your child.
Let them be the expert at something
Really strive to have your child teach you or talk to you about something they are passionate about. This gives them the opportunity to “be the expert” which not only will boost their confidence but also draw you closer together as they see that you care about what they are interested in.
Work to spend 30 minutes per day with your child uninterrupted.
Let them take the lead. Do they want to read with you? Play with you? Draw with you? This small deposit of time will reap dividends for your relationship.
Include them in what you are already doing. Think of ways to include them in your everyday life. Are you cooking dinner? Invite them in. Are you working out at home? Include them or take them with you on that run.
Ask open-ended questions
Instead of asking “Did you have a good day?” Ask “what was your favorite part of today?” This naturally will keep the conversation going and will give you more insight into what is going on in their world.
Set An Example
Lastly, treat other people in your life with respect and love. Our children learn how to treat people and can tell if we care for others. When children see this, they often personalize this to themselves.
When we speak lovingly to our spouse or other family members, our children learn to respect and that we as parents value relationships with people. Children will then internalize this and know that we as parents care about them as well.
If you are struggling to maintain and enrich relationships with your children, we can help! In addition to family therapy, we offer many other forms of therapy and services at our Raleigh and Fuquay Varina offices.
Written By: Elizabeth Edwards, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
3 Essential Tips to Build Parent-Child Relationships While Homeschooling This School YearAugust 5, 2020
School looks a lot different this year not only for families in Raleigh, but for families across the nation. In March, U.S. schools were not prepared for an overnight shift to virtual learning. Now, months later, virtual learning is still looking like the best option for many many families amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
However you are feeling about back-to-school plans this fall, there are ways you can move forward in positivity and strengthen relationships with your children this school year. Here are a few tips from Foundations Family Therapy’s Founder Jamie Criswell who has been homeschooling long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Focus on Quantity over Quality
The age-old debate about which is more beneficial, time or quality, is never more at play then when you suddenly find yourself struggling with both. How do I possibly give my child well planned out instructional time, fun time, family time etc. while also working, taking care of their younger siblings, cleaning the house and learning how to help with online learning?
We believe that “done is better than perfect”, which also translates to quantity (the amount of time) is better than quality (the perfect way to spend time) in this case. That could mean spending 10 minutes doing something your child/teen enjoys with them. Maybe build in a quick break between online learning for a walk, or turn up the music for a quick dance session.
Perhaps a 10-minute play session with Barbies or legos is just what your child needs. A simple block of just 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day can go a long way in letting your child know you care and enjoy spending time with them.
Have Lots of Grace
This whole online learning space and being home more hours than away is still new (even if you’ve now been doing it since March). You and your child are likely still coming to terms with things not being back to “normal” like we all hoped they would be by now.
Your child could be grieving the loss of what they thought school would look like this year. Lack of sports and other activities can also be disappointing.
Understand that they are missing their friends and are likely frustrated that this fall will likely not bring a return of those social interactions in the way they hoped.
You may be dealing with frustration and fear over how you’re going to juggle working with online learning and childcare. We understand! Give yourself and your child some extra grace. Be quick to forgive and recognize that each of you may be more easily agitated, angry, or sad. Acknowledge these feelings for yourself and help your child acknowledge theirs. Let them
know that you’re trying your best too and that while it may not look the way either of you wanted, there are some good things that can come from it. Try to focus on those, maybe even listing a few positives from each day with your child.
Talk it out
One thing that is sure to happen is miscommunication. Practice using the speaker-listener technique with your child to make sure that you both are feeling heard. Use “I” statements, feeling words, and short statements to describe what you would like to say. The listener can then reflect back on what they heard to ensure clarity. It goes like this:
Speaker: “I am frustrated with this assignment and I need help with understanding it”
Listener: “I hear you saying that you are frustrated and you would like for me to help you?”
Speaker: “Yes, that is it”
Though it may seem like a simple exercise, we often don’t practice it and both parties end up feeling not heard. It probably looks something like this:
Speaker: “I can’t stand This, it makes no sense!”
Listener: “What do you want me to do, you have to do your work!”
Speaker: “I’m done!”
This scenario may sound familiar and often ends in frustration and anger for both parties, with each of you feeling unheard, helpless, and not supported.
Taking the time to practice speaking and listening can help a lot when things become difficult or emotions are running high. Helping each person feel heard and understood goes a long way in building and protecting your relationship with your child (this works with partners too!) and leaves everyone feeling more connected.
Above all this school year, go easy on yourself! Remember that we all are doing the best we can! Find a plan that works for you and your family. Create schedules and routines that can help keep you on track and don’t hesitate to reach out for support!
A big part of reaching out for support is making your emotional health a priority as we continue to face these challenging times. If you or someone you love is struggling with adjustments to the new normal, we have therapists in Fuquay Varina, Raleigh and North Carolina providing in-office and telehealth services to help you thrive.
Parenting in the Midst of Working from HomeApril 24, 2020
Due to the recent COVID19 outbreak, many parents are finding themselves working from home. While some parents are used to working from home, many are making the transition and settling into any given comfortable space in their home.
Whether working from home was the norm or a new transition, many parents are also now finding themselves taking on the role of teacher, cook, playmate, lesson planner, and everything else in between for their child(ren) in addition to having to work their job and keep up with daily work demands.
While we as parents may understand that this is the “new normal” and how things have to be for now, it can still be difficult to carry on all the responsibilities that we are used to all at the same time and all in the same location with every member being home all at the same time.
This transition may be difficult, but we can help!
We used to have the luxury of taking a break and going to our favorite coffee shop to get a hot latte that warmed the soul or going to our favorite restaurant and enjoying our favorite meal in the midst of mindful eating. Now? Not so much.
The breaks at the house may not seem as pleasant or appetizing as they once did. Your patience may be wearing thin and you may be singing “Jesus Take the Wheel” more than you ever have before.
Feeling overwhelmed right now IS NORMAL AND VERY MUCH OKAY. You are human. You have needs and you also need breaks. Self-care is important. YOU are important. I can assure you that you are not alone in feeling this way.
Strategies for Coping
So how can one have some semblance of sanity in the midst of this chaos? Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful:
Establish a routine
Not only for your child(ren) but also for yourself. While the routine may not look like it did before, there is some sense of normalcy in having a routine (with time).
Keep taking breaks during the day as you once did
Sure, you may not be able to hit up your favorite spot but you can substitute that time with another activity. Maybe you take a short drive somewhere or take a walk around the neighborhood/house or even take an actual lunch break in a different part of the house. Or maybe you take a few minutes for meditation and deep breathing.
When you can, ask for help
Whether that’s from your partner, nanny/sitter, daycare, or whoever! If you’re partnered, tag team it up. Split up tasks. Ask for what you need and be specific in what you need.
Check in with yourself often
If you need to, reach out to someone you trust and just vent. Whether it’s a family member, your partner, friend, neighbor, therapist, church member, whoever. Let it out.
Make time for a break
My favorite way to do this is setting a slightly earlier bedtime for your kid a couple of times a week. That way, they’re in bed and you’re hopefully taking a hot shower and catching up on your favorite show or just sitting there in silence.
Join your family, friends, co-workers, etc. through a digital coffee date, a Zoom meeting, or Google hangouts. Adulting with other adults is important!
Practice giving yourself grace
Parenting isn’t a competition and we are all in this “new normal” together. How easy is it to understand and validate another’s situation but then get down on ourselves?
Remember, we are human and aren’t perfect, and this includes in the parenting arena. Sometimes Fruit Loops and screen time are exactly what’s needed. Go with it.
Leticia Frazier, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
How To Help to Your Teen With Life’s TransitionsAugust 15, 2019
Adolescence is a beautiful yet challenging time of change.
As a result, if you think about all of the social and academic pressures topped with hormonal shifts, it’s no wonder why it can be difficult for teens to adjust!
The good news is that if they seem emotionally unstable, irritable or moody, it’s likely this is all part of normal behavior.
School and Change
As we enter this transitional time of the year with new beginnings at school, it’s important to have a care plan in place to help things go smoothly. Careful organization and planning can help eliminate uncertainty and let your teen know she has a support system in place.
Start by establishing communication. It’s essential to keep communication channels open in order to build a positive relationship with your teen. Even if you don’t always agree, you want them to know that you are interested and that you care.
Another important part of healthy communication is teaching them about mindfulness. It’s easy to get lost in all of the fears, anxieties and “what ifs” that surround the teenage years. Help them learn ways to stay focused and stay present.
Teen Depression and Anxiety are on the rise.
Most importantly, in the rise of teenage depression and anxiety, it’s important to talk about personal safety. Have an open and mature conversation about all of the new issues and challenges your teen might face. Be sure to include topics like sex, drugs, and alcohol use. Talk about all of the new freedoms, responsibilities, and expectations associated with the teenage years and make sure they feel safe.
All parents want to give their teens the tools they need to not only survive but thrive. Family therapy can help with complicated issues and conversations. This is why our team of compassionate therapists- many parents themselves- are here to help your family grow together through adolescence and beyond.
Brooke Shields Visits Raleigh To Help Raise Awareness of Postpartum DepressionOctober 25, 2018
Celebrity actress and model Brooke Shields took the stage at The Evening of Hope event to talk about her journey with Postpartum Depression.
In sharing her personal struggles, Shields highlighted the lack of awareness surrounding the issue. She encouraged mothers to start talking about Postpartum Depression and stop suffering in silence in hopes of ending the stigma.
(Read Full Press Article Here)
Postpartum depression is more common than you think! Studies show that around 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression and/or anxiety at some point in their lives.
Unfortunately, PPD is often misunderstood. This leads to frustration in an already complicating time for a mother.
At Foundations Family Therapy, Elizabeth Edwards works with women struggling with parenting and perinatal/ postpartum concerns. She can help with feelings of anxiety, guilt and sadness in a mother’s life.
A Letter To All The Overwhelmed, Exhausted, and Stressed MomsAugust 29, 2018
Dear Mother, You are Enough.
Every day we talk to women who are stressed out. These are women who might look a lot like you or important women in your life. They are mothers, wives, business professionals, sisters, daughters, church members, community activists, and a host of other “things”. These women fill a lot of roles in a number of different areas.
A common theme with all of them is stress, exhaustion, feeling emotionally drained, and not good enough. Not good enough for their children, or their jobs, or their families, or the number of other roles they fill.
At the root of all of these women is the never ending feeling that they are not good enough or not what people need them to be.
This continual struggle to do and be more is exhausting. Women come in to therapy totally exhausted, unable to name support systems or anything they do just for them.
Women who are everything for everybody but may not feel like they excel in anything. This also presents itself through being a “people pleaser” or “doormat” as some clients call it. People can ask anything of you and “count on you” to do it because they have learned that you are willing to sacrifice yourself to make their lives better because you need the validation of others. These people are scared of conflict and would do anything to avoid it.
The Comparison Trap
The bad news is there will always be someone “better” than you. Whether it be fitness level, education, work experience, or in relationships. You may arrive at this conclusion that they are “better” than you through social media, surface level conversations, or just observing other women.
The truth is, these women probably feel just the same as you do! The result is everyone is striving to do more to feel like they are valuable. Sometimes we get the temporary “high” of achieving a new goal- maybe you lost weight, hit a new goal at the gym, hit new numbers at work, your children listened, and your husband complimented you. However, as we know, these are very short lived highs and then we are back to striving to do more. We might find ourselves thinking “Since I did that, I wonder if I could do this…” and the cycle continues.
The good news is you are not alone and you are believing a terrible lie. The idea that you are not enough or “too much” in some cases, is a lie! You. Are. Enough. You are valuable. There is nothing you could do to make you more valuable and precious than you already are.