Sanity for the Working Parent

Family photo
Photo Credit Joy Neville Photography

“Mommy you don’t play with us.” Ouch. My kid said this one day when we were at home and talking about a game we are about to play. What an awakening. I work with families and children. I play with children all day long. And I always felt like my priorities were right. But this got my attention. I have been working a ton recently on some awesome opportunities, and some things have gotten off.

As a therapist and a mom it is always a challenge to balance both career and family. I’m a pretty driven person who deals with a streak of perfectionism, so if I’m not careful I can find myself out of balance. I see this issue come up time and again both with parents of the children I work with, supervisees and other working parents. How do you have a career that supports your family financially, but at the same time stay connected with your family? I have the fortunate opportunity to be able to adjust my schedule and have flexibility, and not every family has that. However there are some things that I do that helps me, and I hope that it can help other parents to readjust as necessary. Please note I have NOT perfected this in anyway and am constantly learning how to incorporate these in my own life.

 

  1. Let go of getting everything done all the time. Some things will be left undone. There is finite number of hours in a day and it is impossible to complete everything every day.
  2. Make the time you do spend with your children/family count. I make it a point to keep my weekends low key and not over scheduled. This is necessary both from a self-care point of view and bonding with my children. We have certain routines that we do keep on the weekends (such as at least one day we have movie and pizza night).
  3. Set a cut of time for work. In my field it can seem like there is something to do all the time, and setting a cut off time to stop working and go home has worked wonders. I will even put “GO HOME” on my schedule to give myself a visual reminder to NOT SCHEDULE SOMETHING THERE.
  4. Say no more than you say yes. It is tempting to take on multiple projects, Post this! Schedule this! Volunteer here! But giving yourself permission to say no sometimes will help focus your attention on the things that matter the most.
  5. Plan self care times every day to decompress. (for me it’s herbal tea before bed and watching something stupid on TV).
  6. Seek out consultation and networking with other parents in your field. You will find that it’s not just you, no you’re not crazy for being a working parent, and also remind you that we are in this together.
  7. Accept help from others.
  8. Ask for help.
  9. Give yourself the permission to adjust as needed. I have found that I have had to adjust my schedule or way of working every few years as my family’s needs change. My family’s needs change depending on the stage we’re in, for instance my kids had different needs when they were babies, but now that one is preschool age and the other is school age they need attention in different areas.
  10. Make smaller adjustments as you go along, rather than big leaps. Change happens as you make small adjustments to your schedule and your life, generally not in one big leap. And sometimes the simple adjustments (such as adjusting your cut off time for one day) makes a bigger impact than you expect.

 

What helps you maintain your sanity as a working parent? Whether you are a therapist or not? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I can’t wait to read everyone’s tips.

When Passion Shows Up

I’ll never forget the first time I saw play therapy. When my late supervisor allowed me to observe my first play therapy session I fell in love at first sight. It felt right. It felt natural to me and I loved how it worked with where the child was in their development.

 

That session was a pivotal moment for me. It started a passion that motivated me to pursue my career and specialty as a play therapist and play therapist supervisor. I had so much to learn, but it didn’t stop me from moving towards my goals.

 

I had no idea what kind of challenges lay ahead, including difficult work environments, heavy caseloads, and the level of trauma and complex issues that my young clients face with courage.

 

I have non-therapist friends ask me “how do you work with …(place favorite issues here). What I tell people (and myself when I’m faced with challenges of my job) is that yes, but I get to see a child heal from a trauma, connect with their parent, make new friends, learn how to stop being afraid and live a full life. I get to watch people heal and increase their faith in their God and themselves. I get to spend my day alongside young ones who deal with so much they should be too young for.

 

At the end of the day it’s encouraging work. It’s worth it. Some cases are sad. True. I have to constantly balance my work life, and personal life, true. I have to keep my emotions in check sometimes and my support systems close. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.

 

What’s your passion? What fuels you? Leave a Comment Below about how you found your passion.

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How Do Parents Refocus and Unwind?

We all hear about self-care. As moms, therapists, and people going through the hustle of every day life. I have found myself thinking about it a lot lately, and I know that when I miss things, like going to church or socializing with other adults I notice I am not as focused as I usually am when  faced with some of the daily challenges of being a parent (meltdowns, fussy babies, you know the real fun stuff).

So, What is it that you do to refocus and unwind?

Answer in the Comments below, and get the self-care conversation going.  Thank you!

6 Steps to Practicing Self Care

girl homeworkMediumHere lately the practice of self care has been on my mind and a focus for me. It’s been especially important recently with a newborn, a 5 year old, a career, and a husband in school. My life is pretty crazy and I can easily get frazzled and worn out if I let it.

To be honest there are days where I struggle to balance my own needs with the needs of others in my life, especially when it involves my kids and my clients. Self care is talked about frequently between myself and my colleagues, and there are even whole professional workshops on it!  The following are things that I do to helps me to practice self care and I hope it will give you some encouragement to take care of yourself as well.

1. Journal.

I was struggling to find time to journal so I downloaded a free journaling app on m iPad which helps me since I’m usually using my iPad anyway (especially when nursing my daughter). Journaling helps me to process my day, what I’m feeling, and areas I struggle with. I use “My Wonderful Days lite.”

2. Read a day to day devotional.

I love in depth, deep devotionals I can dive into, but I don’t always have the time to spend on them so I use a day to day devotional for times where I’m needing to spend prayer/devotional time but I don’t have a lot of time by myself.

3. Ask for help when I need it.

This one is especially difficult for me because I’m an independent person and I’m so used to helping others and doing things myself. But I find that delegating and knowing my limits help ease the pressure.

4. Seek out social interaction.

Social media is great and there are many ways to connect with people via Facebook, twitter, google+ or the social media platform of your choice. However, they cannot replace face to face interaction with people in real life. This can be through church, professional associations, or just calling up a friend to chat and meet for lunch.

5. Set realistic goals for yourself.

When I get overwhelmed I tend to want everything done right now! (Like, I need to clean my house!). but I find when I break it down into smaller steps (My goal today is to finish the dishes) I feel much more accomplished and can focus on one thing at a time.

6. Take time to sit down and unwind, even if it’s only 5 minutes.

I find after a long day of seeing clients, or even days I’m home with my children that taking time to wind down by sitting in my favorite chair, drinking a glass of water or herbal tea (my favorite is tranquil dreams from Teavana) it helps me to sleep better and get re-focused.

These are just a few ways I practice self care in my life. If you have your own tips, please join the conversation and leave a comment below. Let’s support each other on our journey of self care.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

How to find Rest for Your Souls

I am currently going through some pretty significant changes in my life, and I never really stopped to allow it all to sink in. I just kept going along with working at full speed, even though these changes are impacting me physically and emotionally. I had this idea that I could just keep things going with no consequences until this week when i began waking up early all by myself, and thinking about work related things at times when I should be resting. That is usually a sign to me that I am in need of some type of change to balance out my life and relieve stress. I struggle with this battle of balance. How do I take care of myself, my family, and my clients to the fullest? Can I really be superwoman and have it all? A career? A family? and Enjoy it? So, I began praying and I asked God to show me how to navigate this path that I am on right now. I always find it interesting how he works. I pray for balance and for rest, and then all of a sudden I have a day (like today!) where all my clients cancelled and so I stayed home and spent time with my son all day, what a blessing it was. It was a reminder to me that if I just stop, and time to take care of myself, I can be refreshed and able to navigate these changes with more energy and clarity.

 

28 “Come to Me, all [a]who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is[b]easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 11:28 Or who work to exhaustion
  2. Matthew 11:30 Or comfortable, or pleasan

 

Changes

I’ve been contemplating some changes lately. I have had “Jill’s Writing and Play Therapy Page” for about four years now and have finally decided to move to a self-hosted site to expand the website more. I am excited and have been planning for about a year, but I look at it and I always feel a little afraid. Afraid  that it will fall flat, or something won’t work, or that I’ll lose….fill in the blank. But at the same time I am truly excited to see where it goes from that change. So how will I deal with that change? Do I stay stuck in the same because of fear of change, or do I push through the fear to expand my website? I know I’m just writing about a website here, but there are many times we are faced with change for whatever reason. We move, we start a new career, we end a job, we make new friends, we move churches. Whatever the change, it helps to see what’s on the other side of it: New, Fresh start and how we get there: The process God leads us through.

10 Things to Make Your New Year Stress Free

I don’t know about you, but for me the end of a year and the beginning of a new one always has a feeling of relief for me. I love the idea of a new, fresh start and starting over. The past year for me has been full of ups and downs, and a lot of personal stress. But at the same time, there are many blessings in my life. If I look back this year, I can see where God has really come through for me and my family. I love the hope that a new year brings. I believe that this year will be better than last year, and that God will continue to teach me how to trust Him in my life.

Here are 10 things that I am going to do this year to make life more stress free take these ideas and also add your own in the comments:

1. Say no to at least one project a week.

2. Reduce the amount of caffeine and sugar I consume.

3. Plan at least one date night a month with my husband.

4. Plan more time with my girlfriends.

5. Schedule in at least one morning a week for writing and business planning.

6. Pay down debt.

7. Say what I am thankful for everyday because God supplies all me needs and provides for me every day.

8. Read more for pleasure.

9. Read a good Bible study or join a Bible study group.

10. Give up trying to plan every little detail of my life and allow God to work things out.

 

Verses that Spoke to Me this Week:

 Isa 43:16, 18-19

This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Proverbs 3:5-6 

The Message (MSG)
5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson