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.
Staying safe and healthy is a top priority during the era of a pandemic. We have restrictions and recommendations in place to help keep us physically safe as we continue to adjust to a new normal. However, many of us are relying on our phones, laptops and other devices to stay connected now more than ever as we’re socializing online.
With all of the increased online activity, there’s a greater risk of exposure to cyber-attacks and scammers. Here are a few ways to ensure your safety while socializing online.
Spring Clean Your Digital Accounts
There’s no better time to clean up your digital accounts! Delete programs and accounts that you no longer use to help reduce data exposure. Getting rid of old and unused accounts can help reduce your privacy risk. Clean out your inbox by hitting the ‘unsubscribe’ button to help remove digital clutter in your life.
Update Your Devices
Keeping your devices updated can actually help keep you safe online. If you are using old versions of apps it is more likely there will be bugs that can leave your device vulnerable. Follow all recommended updates on your phone, tablet, and computer to reduce your risk.
Password Protect Virtual Meetings
Unfortunately, many scammers and cyberbullies are finding ways to cash in on all of the increased online activity. Try to password protect private meetings documents while socializing online. When choosing a password, incorporate different styles of capitalization, characters, and numbers to further help ensure your safety.
Spend Time With Your Children Online
Children still need to connect with friends, family, and teachers online. Try to create opportunities for your child to have safe and positive online interactions online.
Start by helping your child recognize and avoid misinformation and age-inappropriate content that may increase anxiety about the COVID-19 virus. Consider using parental controls in apps and devices to monitor and limit what your child does online.
Check Your Sources
Staying safe during COVID-19 starts with education. Make sure you’re not
contributing to the spread of harmful content. Check your sources. Stick to a credible source for up-to-date information like the CDC.
At Foundations Family Therapy, we’re helping our clients stay safe during
COVID-19 by offering secure virtual therapy appointments for mental wellness. Even during these times of ‘survival’, there are still ways to thrive.
Let us help you live your best life.
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
With COVID 19 impacting our lives, we find ourselves more physically isolated than ever before. For people struggling with anxiety or depression, this could be a recipe for disaster if we are not intentional in remaining connected.
All people are built for relationships.
We are made to be in relationships with others. It is important to remember that what we are aiming for is physical distancing NOT social distancing. It is as important, if not more important than ever before to stay connected and in community with others.
How can we do this?
We have seen a lot of creative ways through social media recently on how to stay connected including FaceTime and other video messaging services, teleconferencing for work, and now even teletherapy. We are blessed to live in a time where these things are available to us.
We have also seen “bear hunts” throughout neighborhoods and teacher parades recently on social media. These small things remind us that we are all human, longing to be together again soon. We are all in this together.
For some, social distancing can easily slip into isolation which can lead us down paths of hopelessness and cause our thoughts to spiral. If you find yourself struggling with anxious or depressive thoughts during this time, check your connectedness first.
Are you still communicating with friends and family members?
Are you making time for things that bring you joy?
Are you finding meaningful alternatives to things that you used to enjoy such as going to the gym or going out to eat?
If you are a member of a local church, are you watching church online? Doing your own quiet time and Bible study? Talking with people from your small group?
Some fun ways to stay connected and encouraged are below. If you find you are still feeling depressed or anxious, know we are here to help you!
- Creating a goody bag for friends/family and putting it on their porch or driveway.
- Have your children have a “guest reader” for bedtime stories. Call a grandparent and have them read a book to your child on FaceTime
- Write encouraging messages on neighbors, friends, or family members driveways
- Send snail mail
- Get outside and meet some neighbors (in their yards of course!)
- Watch a show with a friend on zoom and talk about it like if they were watching in the room with you
- Have someone else hold you accountable to stay connected
- Host an online prayer/worship time
- Wave and be friendly to those you see in your neighborhood. You can’t catch COVID-19 from waving!
- Make cards and leave them on people’s cars
Get creative and have fun in this short season to make memories and stay connected!
Elizabeth Edwards, LMFT
Relationships are hard.
Family dynamics can be complicated. And when everyone in your family has their own personality, a unique set of personal values and wants to be independent? Well, life can get complicated sometimes.
When families enter therapy, they commit to moving forward in growth together. Your family therapist at Foundations Family Therapy will meet you and your family where you are.
We will get to know your family…
And look for patterns in how you communicate…
We’ll work to identify common conflicts and talk about the problems bringing you in.
So, if you and your family ready to start functioning as a unit again, here are a few ways our Family Counseling services can help.
One of the most critical skills in developing relationships is communication. Family therapy helps families in the development of spiritual, intellectual, and emotional roles of life. Challenges for families have changed with addiction issues being high across the country. Therapy can assist with teaching coping skills for family members and opening a dialogue for communication regarding serious matters of concern.
Communication within a family can sometimes be challenging. Family therapy is available for these situations to assist with the learning of better communication techniques while learning to resolve issues as well. Teaching strengths and weaknesses of a family it is crucial to keep an open mind to growth and the potential for positive change.
Lower Risk of Conflict
Lowering the risk of conflict within a family is a valuable skill. While conflict is never desirable, even one member under stress can wreak havoc within a family. Learning the skills to communicate with multiple generations improves family life, teaches about respect, problem-solving, and responsibilities within the family dynamic.
Family therapy has become a widespread need for families throughout the country and our Raleigh, NC community is no different. Families face many challenges that could include issues with addiction, multi-generation homes, divorce, teenage rebellion, and so much more.
Your Family Can Get to a Better Place
Through family therapy, you can increase your sense of connection and begin to enjoy one another again. Our therapists work with your family to improve communication, resolve long-standing conflict and teach conflict resolution skills.
Not only will you find ways forward around the sticky issues you are sick of rehashing but you’ll feel ready to face future conflict together as well. Your therapist helps you clarify your values as a family and then apply those as you problem solve major issues in your life.
You don’t have to stay stuck in the same old patterns. It is possible to enjoy one another and feel like you can have a conversation together. Family therapy can help. Contact our office today