Archive of ‘Family Time’ category

Tips for Quality Time During Quarantine

What is quality time? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is: “time spent giving all of one’s attention to someone who is close” You may be thinking “um…but aren’t I spending all my time with people who are close right now?” Yes, but I want to encourage you to think about what that time looks like and how quality time might be different. As I write this, I’m wondering if spending quality time with the people we are in contact with may be even more important right now. With many of us working from home, there is sometimes little distinction between work time and play time.

Anyone else answering work emails while playing with their kid? In my experience, these moments are sometimes necessary but are often frustrating for everyone involved. Or maybe you aren’t writing emails, but your mind is thinking about what you’ll say in your 2:00 meeting. Again, you may need to be with your child and plan for your meeting at the same time, I get that (I really do!) However, it’s important that there are times when your child, your partner, and, even yourself get your undivided attention. While my toddler lets me know in no uncertain terms when I’m not paying enough attention to him, an older child or partner may be more subtle. Here are a few things to look out for and ideas for connecting.

With your Kids

Signs you child could benefit from some quality time with you:

  • They appear easily frustrated when you need to complete a task
  • They seem to need your help with everything, including tasks you know they can do themselves
  • They repeatedly do things that require you to stop what you are doing and attend to them, even if it’s to tell them to stop
  • You are feeling annoyed, irritated, worried or guilty 

Tips for quality time with kids

  • Turn off your phone and play with your kids…it doesn’t matter if they’re 2 and want to build towers and knock them down or 15 and want to play video games or do a craft project. 
  • Let your child choose an activity they want to share with you or brainstorm a list of activities together and take turns picking something off the list.
  • Be curious—ask open-ended questions like “what do you like most about this song?” “How do you feel about that?” “What are you most looking forward to?
  • For young children, plan for at least 10 minutes a day. For older children, try a minimum of 30 minutes once a week of focused “special time.” Teens may appreciate less frequent but longer stretches of time.
  • Check out this post for some fun activities to do with kids during quarantine.

With your Partner

Signs your relationship could use some attention:

  • You’re bickering often over “small stuff
  • You or your partner feels disconnected
  • You’re having frequent miscommunications
  • It’s been a while since you had a date night or spent one-on-one time together without distractions

Tips for quality time with your partner

  • If possible, find a time when you won’t be interrupted by kids or work (and turn your phone off!)
  • Schedule a date night. You may not be able to go to your favorite restaurant, but you can order take-out and watch a movie, go for a walk, play a game, or have a picnic in your backyard. 
  • Set aside 10 minutes before bed each night to check in about your day or cuddle.
  • Accomplish something together. This could be a house project, a puzzle, a new fitness routine, or whatever suits your interests.
  • Download one of these apps or read this blog post to learn more about each other and get ideas for strengthening your relationship.

With Yourself

Signs you could use some attention:

  • You’re easily frustrated or feel irritable and on edge
  • You notice you’re holding tension in your body 
  • You feel drained (physically, emotionally, mentally)
  • You feel anxious, worried, sad, agitated

Tips for quality time with yourself:

  • Find a space that feels good to you. If you don’t have one, try to create a cozy, calming atmosphere by lighting a candle, wrapping up in a blanket, or designating a corner of your room as your calming area. You can add cushions, a comfy chair, favorite pictures or an essential oil diffuser.
  • If you live with other people, tell them you need some to yourself and to not disturb you unless it’s an emergency (of course, if you’re alone with young children you may need to time this for their nap time or after they’re in bed).
  • Take a walk and just notice how your body feels, the thoughts you’re having, feelings that come up. Try to notice these things without judgement. Check out this post for some mindfulness tips and tricks.
  • Journal, paint, or do something else creative.
  • Read a book, listen to music, or watch a show that makes you feel good.
  • Avoid doing chores, answering emails, or working during this time!

It doesn’t so much matter what you do, but that you set aside time to be truly present, whether it’s with yourself, your children, your partner, or anyone else. Just enjoying each other can help deepen your connection and bring a greater sense of peace and belonging during this unpredictable time.

“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

Brene Brown
By: Magdalen Marrone, LCSW


Back to School: Fall 2020 Edition

With summer quickly coming to an end, the back to school preparation looks a little different this year. In fact, this year has looked a lot different than any other year so far. Because of all the changes that are occurring I wanted to give my Back to School list of resources for families.

Talking, again, about COVID-19

COVID-19 has taken a toll on families in the shape of illness, job loss, life loss, staying at home with the whole family, the changing of school structure, and so much more. It is exhausting trying to keep a “normal” with so much chaos and change. It is SO important for families to focus on connection. Connection can be small moments of checking in or intentional moments, like a family dinner or meeting. By maintaining connection in the family, you are allowing natural moments of empathy and understanding to occur. These connection moments can let a family adapt through change by knowing where every family member is emotionally. Below are some resources to help families set up time to connect, how to connect, and what to connect about.

Families and Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter movement has created a lot of conversations in families and communities. Talking through questions like:

  • What is racism?
  • Is reverse racism real?
  • What is white privilege?
  • What is systemic racism?
  • Am I part of the problem?
  • How can I be part of the change?
  • In what ways can I support Black Lives Matter?

These questions can feel overwhelming. Connection, again, is a key ingredient in creating conversation with your family in how to research, educate, and answer these many questions. Below are some resources to help families talk through how to educate themselves, their family, and support Black Lives Matter.

General Resources for Your Family

The below include general resources/suggestions for you and your family to practice self-care, in general. Remember–there is not a right or wrong way to practice self-care and to feel your feelings as long as you’re giving yourself the opportunity to do so!

The above resources are a collection of books, podcasts, words of encouragement, documents, and websites from myself and by my colleagues in the therapy field! Thank you to all of my friends and colleagues in the therapy world to help me create this back to school list. I also want to note that the resources are not exhaustive by any means; there are MANY tips, tricks, tools–this barely scratches the surface. However, it felt like a great place to start and a necessary tool to share with families. Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns!

By: Julie Smith, LMFT


Five Activities to do at Home with Children: Quarantine Edition

As I sit here writing this, I can’t help but to reflect on how much has changed in the past month.  The roles we play, our social connection and sense of community, our work, and so much more. 

Navigating through this time with kids can be hard; they have had massive shifts in their lives. Parents have had to expand their role to fill that of teacher, coach, guidance counselor, and many others.  Here are five activities that can be used at home (or in nature close to home) to help your children process big feelings in relation to this chaotic time and promote self-regulation skills. 

Emotions Charades 

This is a fun game to play with kiddos to promote mindfulness of the body.  Mindfulness is pulling ourselves into the present moment. When explaining to children use simple, succinct definitions such as “mindfulness is noticing what is happening right now.”  Mindfulness practices can help improve focus and concentration, as well as increase self-regulation skills.  

In emotions charades, either purchase cards with faces depicting different emotions (these are great: https://www.playtherapywithcarmen.com/collections/focus-on-feelings/products/flash-cards-with-words-focus-on-feelings© ) or create your own cards with your children using art supplies.  Create faces that show anger, frustration, sadness, happiness and any emotion you can identify together!  Shuffle the cards and place them face down. One player then selects a card. The player will not only use their face, but their entire body, to act out the emotion silently to other player, who is trying to guess what it is.  

This game helps create awareness of how the body reacts to different emotions.  You can even ask questions to further process the emotion. For example, if your child is acting out fear, you can ask them questions like “what helps you to feel safe? What does safety feel/look like to you?” 

Yoga/Animal Yoga

Yoga practices have been shown to help children with mind-body awareness, self-regulation, improved self-esteem and social-emotional learning (just to name a few!).  Cosmic Kids Yoga has an entire YouTube channel with tons of great videos geared towards children of all ages and interests (including Frozen, Pokemon and Harry Potter!).  You can access it here: https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga

If videos aren’t your thing, here is a link to free animal yoga pose cards: https://wyqualitycounts.org/animal-yoga-for-kids/

Aromatherapy Playdoh

According to recent research, repetitive, rhythmic movement (think rocking, swinging or kneading playdoh) and sensory experiences calm the part of our brain that signals danger.  Creating aromatherapy playdoh together is a great way to integrate both movement and sensory input to promote feelings of relaxation.  

Recipe: https://www.healthline.com/health/diy-aromatherapy-playdough-for-stress – 7

You can also make multiple batches with different smells! 

  • Lavender can help to promote relaxation and sleep
  • Citrus scents energize
  • Pine can reduce stress
  • Peppermint can improve focus/concentration (be cautious with peppermint-since it is a stronger scent, I would reduce the amount needed by half)

Nature Mindfulness Activity

As mentioned before, mindfulness is anchoring ourselves to the present moment.   The Child Mind Institute shares that spending time in nature benefits children by building confidence, promoting creativity, and reducing stress.  This activity combines both nature and mindfulness to create a sensory experience that can promote regulation and tranquility. 

This nature mindfulness activity does not require any materials, just you, your child and thirty uninterrupted minutes outside in nature!  Walk through a park, yard, greenbelt or any other natural landscape and identify: 

  • Five things you can see
  • Four things you can hear
  • Three things you can feel
  • Two things you can smell
  • One thing you can taste (for safety considerations, I recommend only pointing out something you can eat or bring rosemary/mint or any other safe herb from home with you to reduce risk of eating something harmful!

If your child needs a visual, you can print out a scavenger hunt sheet with things for them to find in nature.  Here are some great resources: 

Safe Place Guided Imagery and Art Project

This is a confusing time for everyone, including children.  Having strong feelings of fear, sadness and anger are understandable and to be expected! This activity helps children to imagine a safe place they can visualize when they begin to feel scared.  

Start by reading or playing a safe place guided imagery script, like one of these: 

Following the guided imagery set out art supplies (whatever you have at home-markers, crayons, colored pencils, paint, paper).  Invite your child to create their safe place on paper. They can draw a literal picture of it or create an abstract piece utilizing color/shapes to express how safety feels to them.  Allow them to choose a meaningful place to keep their piece. If they do not wish to share their safe place, that is totally ok!  

Art is a useful tool to express other emotions as well.  It can provide words and language around emotion that is difficult to verbalize out loud.   Children can use color and shapes to show and externalize how big feelings including fear, anxiety, sadness and joy feel to them.  

Perhaps the most important tool to remember during this time is relationship.  Connection and attachment are healing in themselves. In order to fully be present with your child, we must also do things that nurture our soul as well.  I invite you to take a moment to yourself right now by placing one hand on your heart, the other on your stomach and feel your breath. Quietly extend compassion to yourself in this chaotic time.

You are seen, you are heard.  We are all doing the best we can.  

Presley Pacholick, LCSW
By: Presley Pacholick, LCSW

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