By Taryn Chase, MA, LPC, LCADC, NCC
Throughout this last year, we have been focused on survival. We have been trying to get through each day, making sure that our internet is connected, ensuring our kids are in their zoom classes, and keeping up with our own work. It’s been exhausting, and now that it's summer, we deserve time to relax and rest. Now is the time to enjoy the nice weather, safely spend time with family, and try to work on our self-care.
This upcoming fall, things will not look like they did last year in 2020. Many, if not most of us, will be back in our offices in person full time, and our kids will be back to school in person as well. For many, that is a very scary prospect. Many of our children have not been in a classroom since March 2020. Lots of my clients are worried about sending their children back to school in the fall, and that is understandable.
When thinking about the upcoming school year, do you feel buried under stress and daily pressures, trying to balance parenting and other life requirements? Would guidance and support help ease the burden? It is normal to worry about your children and the struggles you and your family have faced over the past year.
Here at Mindful and Multicultural Counseling (located in Ewing, NJ), we have been thinking about all of this in relation to both our clients and their families. This July, we are offering a safe space where you can learn to deal with life stressors, strengthen your relationship with your children, and feel prepared for the 2021/2022 school year. Our 6 week series will teach you how to support your children as they learn to effectively engage in the world again, so they can focus on feeling empowered and future-oriented rather than focused on mere survival.
We recognize that there's going to be a lot of unique challenges as we return to our pre-Covid routines. We also know that coping with these challenges is possible. I've noticed that many of my clients who are parents have difficulty making time for self-care. We cannot care for others and keep up with our own responsibilities if we cannot first care for ourselves. Many of my clients have relayed to me that their children are their first priority. That’s great, and there is nothing wrong with that morally, but in practice we have to do as we are instructed when flying: put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. This mentality can be difficult for us to implement into practice.
One of the best ways to help our children and ourselves transition back into 'normalcy' is to work on creating and implementing routines. Yes, believe it or not, routines help us feel a 'sense of normalcy.' I hear it from my clients all the time, “I need a routine” or “I do good when I have a daily routine.” This is true for both adults and children. When we have predictable structure, our days flow much better than when we don’t. Think back to early March 2020 when our routines were taken from us; didn’t it feel like our days blurred together and we felt out of sorts? Since then, many of us have been able to create and implement new routines while working at home. Soon enough, we'll have to work on transitioning back to our old routines, and that can take some time and guidance.
Often times, I ask my clients, "How are you feeling today?" and they often don’t know how to describe their moods. I find that many people are unable to recognize and label their emotions effectively. What does this mean for our children? It means they have an even harder time communicating how they feel. When we hear our kids say, “I don’t feel well,” our first thought is that they feel physically sick, when in reality, it's often their way of communicating their emotional state. Self-awareness and being attuned can help us decode the language our children use to communicate their feelings.
As we remember last year when this all started, we dealt with changes both internally and externally. I anticipate that this shift will happen again as we go back to work and school in person. Throughout our parent support group this upcoming July, our goal will be to help support your family's transition back into in person everyday life.
To learn more details about our 6 week series and how you can register, please visit our page here or email us at email@example.com. The series will begin on Tuesday September 14th, 2021. Appropriate for parents of school age children. Listen to Michele Bowes (co-facilitator) talk a little more about the group below.
By Emily Suzuki, MA, LAC
Questions are an inherent part of our very existence and being. There are so many different kinds of questions; from simple questions that come from a child’s curiosity, to the scientific and deep existential questions we ask later in life.
How do you hold space for questions as they arise from within and as you receive them from others?
Are you able to make space in your heart and mind to sit with what is unknown? How does it feel to sit with this uncertainty? What do you notice in your body?
Are there any feelings and emotions that develop when sitting with a question?
What thoughts come into your mind?
Is there a voice of judgment or self-criticism that shows up and makes holding the question even more difficult?
How does it feel to breathe into that judgement and perhaps let it soften a bit?
While sitting with these questions, I invite you to start exploring your memories. How did you learn to ask questions as a child? How were your questions received? Were they encouraged? Brushed away or scorned? Were you supported in your curiosity and wondering or shamed for being nosy or prodding? Was there urgency, pressure, or rigidity in figuring out the solution? Or was there more room for an organic unfolding?
Now, consider this, how did your social location factor into your learning and sitting with questions? How does your culture navigate questions? Was it safe to ask? Was there time or energy? Was there a language barrier?
Like many things we learn as children, our learned relationship with questions influences how we hold space for them as adults. It’s likely your process has evolved since childhood through education, mentors, or close relationships, and maybe, over time, you’ve learned to hold questions in a different way.
Therapy is a place to help you hold life’s questions. We seek out support during times of upheaval, transition, change, loss, and instability. Inherent in the growth we seek is a process of change, which usually presents a series of questions or crossroads to consider. Such as, what do you want right now? What do you need?
Therapy can also be a space that helps you examine and be curious about how you experience holding a question. Buddhist teachers will encourage this place of learning, arguing that the question itself is more important than the answer that eventually comes. It’s said that in the process of arriving at an answer, we travel through a winding path of inquiry and reflection which can offer rich learning and growth.
How can you make more room for holding yourself and your inquiry in compassion? What would it look like to practice a little more gentleness and patience? For support in your journey as you explore questions big and small, reach out to your support network and contact Mindful and Multicultural Counseling in Ewing, NJ at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our services.
Mindful and Multicultural Counseling Clinical Team
Therapists and psychologists committed to improving well being and mindful living.