I am a licensed mental health counselor in private practice. It’s been a surreal time of regrouping and finding my new normal. Like many, I had hoped by mid-April I’d be back to my office.
However, it looks like social distancing will be in place much longer.
During the last few weeks I’ve been offering telehealth options. In addition, I’ve been thinking more about what works for me, and perhaps how it can help you as we all adapt to the changes.
Managing space, schedules and routines
Give each other space. Some people who are introverted and highly sensitive might be overwhelmed by the amount of increased socializing with everyone home. On the other hand, extroverted people might need more attention.
This disparity can be frustrating for both. Identifying your needs and sharing them with your family members will help. Honoring and respecting our differences is quite the art of putting love into action.
Personally, as an INFP, and a highly sensitive person, I’m slowly leaning towards at least an hour or two each day where I’m off limits to everyone!
Consider creating a family calendar. This has helped us to identify who is doing what and when, namely online.
We’ve got two calendars going: Google Calendar and a printed version taped to a door in our kitchen.
It’s been super helpful to check when I should/shouldn’t schedule clients, the need for extra quiet in our home — out of respect and for privacy during our respective online calls and online classes.
Reestablish a new family routine. This might seem very basic but having a semi-set time for meals, snackage, schoolwork, playtime, working from home and quiet time can really foster a little more predictability and therefore comfort.
A schedule is like a loosely knit shawl that we can wrap around our shoulders.
We all enjoy our routines but now more than ever we need them.
Teens are struggling without their peers.
Pre-teens and teens will need their social devices more. Most teens are having an extra difficult time because they thrive connecting with their peers and right now, they don’t have that same level of support.
Psychologically speaking they are at the beginning process of individuation, meaning they are separating from parents and finding out who they are.
While they still love their families, their friends are very important to them.
If you have strict rules about social media and such, please consider letting them have more cellphone time, and social media privileges than usual.
The extra support via texting, Facetime, Snapchat, Marco Polo, TikTok can really help while they sort through this new socially isolating terrain.
On an academic side, having cellphone/social media will increase their ability to ask (text) each other questions regarding their online classes, express their fears and have a better sense they aren’t the ‘only one’ feeling estranged from their normal routine.
This virtual connection time will hopefully help your teen to feel less isolated, less confused and will bridge a gap in their social connections.
In addition, some teens might prefer texting instead of the traditional telehealth. Texting eases the awkwardness, gives privacy and is something they are very familiar with!
Who does the cooking? What does self-soothing look like?
Alternate who prepares the meals. This will create less of a burden when it is usually one person who cooks. Alternating who cooks and/or assists can also be an instant lesson on cooperation and can demonstrate how much goes into making a meal. We’ve been discovering new recipes too!
Another hidden bonus — it lets family members feel needed.
Self-soothing is different for everyone. Some people need to read, do a puzzle, watch movies, nap, take a walk, listen to podcasts, journal, color, create, daydream, art, run, exercise, garden.
Each of these activities are calming, invigorating and nourishing. We also need self-soothing activities especially with the onslaught of news updates. There’s only so much we can take in.
Finding downtime, in whatever form works best for you is essential.
Tips and links for homeschooling your child.
Finally, for those who have children. Prior to being a therapist I was a teacher and then a private tutor. If your children are doing schoolwork from home, here are some extra resources:
Education.com. Is a candy store of activities and worksheets and also includes common core curriculum. (PreK-5th grade)
IXL Math. Includes online math skills from PreK through high school.
Cool Math offers online math and worksheets. (Online math and worksheets)
“Flash Kids Harcourt Family Learning Book Series” has workbooks for spelling, math, reading, comprehension and writing. When I was a private tutor, I usually ordered the next grade up for students. For example, a 2nd grader would most likely do well in a 3rd grade workbook.
Workbooks by “Evan-Moor Daily 6-Trait” K-6th (Amazon, Barnes & Nobles). Covers writing, language arts, spelling and math exercises in short warm-up lessons.
Interested in creating online stories and games? Check out Scratch.
Smithsonian Magazine has multiple resources in particular mind stimulating games that are fun.
Audio books are a nice variation when your children might need someone to read to them. (Or perhaps you need someone to read to you!)
Chegg Tutors is an online tutoring service available 24/7 and covers all subjects. For example, precalculus, algebra 2, sciences, and writing.
Spark Notes: Remember using those? Well, they are still available and a great resource for middle school and high school when used in conjunction to the full text and for writing papers.
bartleby is an another online homework resource. This website describes its services well: “Study smarter with access to millions of step-by-step textbook solutions, a searchable digital database of homework solutions, and subject matter experts on standby 24/7 to provide homework help when you need it.”
Sleepy Time. Sleep is something we all need and here you can find out the best time to get some deep sleep. Happy dreaming!
I hope this information is encouraging and helpful. Meanwhile, please take care and keep safe!
Originally published on Medium: Education and Well-Being Resources
Carolyn Riker is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in private practice. She is also an author of three books. Her most recent book is "My Dear, Love Hasn't Forgotten You."