Taking early bird registration for this new online parenting group hosted by myself and my colleague, Uresha Salgado.
To register or for more information, feel free to contact me here.
Taking early bird registration for this new online parenting group hosted by myself and my colleague, Uresha Salgado.
To register or for more information, feel free to contact me here.
We completed the first month of 2021…how has it been for you so far? On a positive note, the Covid-19 vaccinations have been rolled out, the second lockdown is ALMOST behind us, and winter is more than halfway finished. For those who committed to New Year’s resolutions, you are probably still motivated to do what you planned to do…if so, GOOD FOR YOU! And, before the month is finished, Happy Black History Month!
February is also the month that hosts the day of love and affection – Valentine’s Day. For some, this day symbolizes the celebration of the emotional, intellectual and physical connections that we have with our significant others – our partners, our children, our dearest friends. For others, this day can be more challenging – a day to remind us of the “love” that may not be present in our lives, or the relationships that are no longer here, leading us to experience feelings of grief, loss, and loneliness. Some of us don’t acknowledge this day and view it as a commercialized event characterized by an influx of jewelry, clothing and car commercials that identify these material items as observable measures of just how much you are cared for.
To complicate things further, we are in the midst of a second lockdown in Ontario, which means more restrictions on social contact, closures of venues that would be the site of some celebrations, limits to social gatherings and, in some areas, stay at home orders. This makes things difficult every day, not just on February 14th, but nonetheless, it exacerbates the isolation during a day that focuses on the human need for social connection.
Self-compassion is so important during this time because we are always in the presence of one person who is capable of showing ourselves love and affection. Hint: I am referring to yourself.
Let me be clear: this article is not just for those who are struggling through this time. Self-compassion is one of those no-need-to-explain practices that can be used by everyone.Continue reading “Be Kind and Give Love to Yourself: Using Self-Compassion This Valentine’s Day”
The jury is split among the clients I have been seeing. The holiday season is either cancelled or it’s going to be celebrated in an excessive and overly abundant manner. One thing is common though: it is definitely going to be a holiday season that will be different from all holiday seasons. This pandemic has taken a lot from many of us and our hopes that a sense of normalcy would return before the end of the year have come and gone with little progress. Many of us have returned to “lockdown” and most of us still face restrictions limiting interactions with people outside of our family home. And being with family, friends and loved ones is something so important to some of us during this time of the year, right?
So, in response to the onset of a pandemic holiday, I put my planning hat on and started to think of other creative ways to enjoy this season with my family. I thought I would share these ideas with you.Continue reading ““Happy” Holidays? Finding creative ways to stay festive during a pandemic holiday season”
(Also posted on Instagram and Facebook pages)
Welcoming another week!
I’ve used my Yoga Bear to help today! He can do pretty much any pose, which helps me when I have to show a pose that I can’t physically do myself. This week, we used the bear to show the steps needed to get into our pose, rather than moving our body parts all at once. After I had the boys try putting the bear into pose, they attempted to do it themselves.
So this week we are practicing the Half Squat Pose, Elephant breathing, and reminding ourselves that we can do anything we set our minds to.
Start by standing with feet wide apart, toes facing forward. Place your hands on your hips. Bend forward, placing fingertips or hands on the floor. Bend right leg, placing knee above the ankle. (Toes should still face forward) Straighten the left leg (for an added stretch, point left toes up). Relax your neck. And don’t forget to BREATHE. Do the same movements using the opposite leg.
Stand straight and place your hands in front of you and interlace your fingers (this is your trunk!) Take a long breath in while raising your hands above your head. Exhale through your mouth while forcefully swinging your hands down between your legs. For added fun, exhale and make a sound like an elephant !
Repeat a couple of times.
What is something that you want to learn to do?
How can you learn to do this?
What support do I need to do this?
Hope this helps you start the week as well 🙂 Have a wonderful week!
With all the uncertainty in the world, our children require as much structure and predictability as possible. They also need positivity and peace. I’ve made the difficult decision to keep my son’s home for at least the first part of the school year and I understand that this can be stressful for them – they won’t be seeing their friends, they won’t be familiar with the new learning environment and format, etc.
In my ongoing training in mindfulness (for adults and children), I thought that I would implement some of these strategies with my boys to start their day on the right foot. This activity should not take more than 10 minutes, the first day being the most difficult as they will be learning different techniques and may need some more support and instruction.Continue reading “Start your child’s school day mindfully: An interactive and easy activity to set up at home”
Through this pandemic, I’ve learned a few things about myself. First, there is always time to do the things I want, even though it seems like there is not enough time in the day. Second, in difficult times, it’s important to find “silver linings”. And if there doesn’t seem to be any, make them for yourself.
So, while my children return to the virtual classroom this Fall, I have decided to join them! I have just enrolled in two certificate programs to help me learn more about myself, as well as, help meet the needs of my clients. I am super excited about this new venture because, for all of those who know me, I love learning new things.
I am holding myself accountable with this entry, but putting it out there in the universe and committing myself to follow through and achieve my goal. So
hopefully by Spring of 2021, I will be certified in “Children’s Grief and Bereavement” through Sick Kids Hospital and Hincks-Dellcrest and “Foundations of Applied Mindfulness Meditation” through the University of Toronto. Let’s do this…
One of the common themes of my sessions these days seem to be the difficult decision ahead of many parents of young children and youth: Should I send my child(ren) back to school or keep him/her/them home in the Fall? For some, it is not really a difficult decision at all – we have work to return to and a need for normalcy for our little ones. For others, it’s a waxing and waning back and forth between one and the other.
There seems to be an ongoing script going on in our minds consisting of thoughts like:
I worry about my child’s mental health if he or she stays home. My child needs social interactions and misses his or her friends. I don’t trust that other parents will send their children to school healthy. Will there be a second wave and will I have to take time off work again? Can my child stay safe without my supervision and in a classroom with large sizes? I won’t be able to get any work done if my child is home and needs help.
And now many parents are facing an upcoming deadline to make this decision…Continue reading “To Send or Not to Send Your Kids to School During this Pandemic…”
One of the common themes of my most recent sessions with clients has surrounded the topic of “systemic racism”. There are so many reminders in our local and international communities that have been present in our newsfeeds. It seems that everywhere we turn, whether or not it’s in the news or on all social media platforms, people are talking about the tragedy of race-based violence, particularly the lives of the black community in the United States. What happened to George Floyd was horrific. And he is one person among SO MANY. He has become a symbol and representation of a systemic problem that has been present for longer than a few months or years.
I have talked to clients of different races and ethnicities about how this issue has impacted them and their worldviews. I continue to talk to my two boys, who are both beautiful children of colour about privilege, racism and discrimination. I have talked to friends and family members about this issue, at great length. And throughout all of these discussions, one thing has stayed constant. People are angry. And uncomfortable.
So what wonderful words of wisdom and life-altering advice have I given my clients during this time?
The honest answer is this: “Feel angry. Feel uncomfortable. Feel whatever emotions surface because of what is happening in the world.”
You don’t have to a person of colour (POC) to have a moral compass that dictates that we treat people humanely and without undeserved hatred. Here is my confession: I have not always been this passionate about this topic. Sure, I grew up as a POC and experienced comments and looks from others that were a reflection of the stereotyped thoughts that they had about people of my racial background. But I never looked at it past my own experiences or those of my peers and family. It was only within the last decade of my life that I acknowledged that this is not fair – the fact that people of colour all over the world are subject to differential treatment, expectations, and rights through the inheritance of a system that marginalizes them. So I educated myself and continue to educate myself. I learned to empathize and not sympathize. I recognized my own privilege. And here I am, ready to talk to anyone who wants to talk about this issue – for however long they want to. This is my penance for my years of disregard and avoidance.
Here are few things I’ve learned through my own personal and professional journey:
I know that these lessons are probably self-explanatory and, maybe even, obvious. I am fully aware that my journey is ongoing. And I also know that the more I continue on my journey, the more I will be able to use my voice and my privilege with confidence, passion and conviction to stand up for change.
Let’s rewind a couple of months for a moment: You may recall you and your partner in a different type of routine. Work may have been outside of the house for most of the day. Kids (if any) were in school for most of the day. Then, at some point in the evening, you all get together, say hello, maybe eat dinner together, talk about your day and hopefully spend some quality time together before you pass out for the night. Only to repeat the same routine the next day. Sound somewhat familiar? The point is that before this pandemic, we all seemed to have our own time and space for some part of the day. Now, let’s fast forward to present day: You and your partner (and kids, if any) are with each other all the time. Every day. For the rest of eternity, it seems. Remember any of those nature documentaries about wild animals living in captivity? You know the ones where we see these poor, trapped creatures wanting to scratch and break their way out of the cage. Hamsters are known to gnaw off their own hands, for crying out loud. Even Mother Nature tells us that we don’t like being isolated and contained.Continue reading “Relationship Survival: We’re in this pandemic together”
Last week, I was asked to participate in an interview for a local paper about the impact of distance learning on children and working families, and more importantly, the barriers that may interfere with success. To read the article, please click here.
Preparing for this interview encouraged me to reflect on this issue from both lenses: that of a parent and that of a Social Worker. I thought for this week’s blog, I would share my personal experience with distance learning, as well as, my professional advice to families.
Prior to the distance learning curriculum being launched this past week, I was one of those parents who tried to “homeschool” my kids in the mornings in order to give them something to do other than playing on their video games and watching television (yes, I totally added the ” “). I bought the curriculum books online and went through “lessons” with both my sons, who are in grade 7 and grade 3. For the most part, I tried to be flexible: let them pick the subjects they wanted to do, start the day whenever we were finished breakfast, let them take breaks whenever they wanted. “Homeschool” went pretty smoothly and the boys both actually seemed to like it. Last week, when the distance learning curriculum launched, several observations came to light, like a gigantic beacon in the dead of night (yes, I’m aware that rhymed).
First, “homeschooling” by my standards is not the same as distance learning. Distance learning consists of designed lessons in a structured order with deadlines and processes to submit or turn in assignments. It does not consist of one worksheet with a short paragraph at the top of the page with directions and then a brief exercise – only to move onto a new concept on the next page. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a formalized education setting, and you would think, grade 3 and grade 7 concepts should come naturally. So untrue. I have had to give myself permission to learn (or re-learn, I mean) concepts with my boys and be okay with telling them that I don’t know something. Sometimes, I will ask them to teach it to me. That seems to work.
Second, distance learning is not the same as regular school. As I had to explain to my eldest son during his brief episode of frustration at the beginning, I am not a certified teacher and am going through each lesson the way it is outlined by his real, certified teachers. The workload is significantly less but seems like more to the kids because there are not used to this. They have been out of school for a month. Real school, I mean. But our kids are being given, at most, two hours of work per day, as opposed to 6 hours per day. It should be manageable, user-friendly, and, most importantly, not considered a replacement of their formalized education. That’s too much pressure for any parent.
Third, as technologically capable I believe myself to be, learning the new platform to access their lessons, utilize electronic textbooks, submit work and communicate with teachers is foreign territory. For the most part, I am fascinated by the ease of information being shared and am grateful that there are avenues that are available to make this learning process somewhat easier. But I am learning as I go along and I have had to remind myself to be patient with my process and ask for help from the teachers whenever I need it.
The advice that I gave the reporter last week was really a combination of my personal and professional experiences. In theory, I have to remind parents and families that anxiety, as a basic emotion, tends to show itself in times of uncertainty and unpredictably. We like to know what to expect and we like it even more when we feel like we have some control over what it happening in our lives. This can be helpful to remind us all that the overwhelming feeling that you may be experiencing or your children may be experiencing is understandable – it’s coming from somewhere…more specifically, the unpredictable pandemic that is currently impacting the entire world and restricting our day-to-day civil liberties.
I think I’ve said this in pretty much all of my blogs during this pandemic because it is so important: Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best that you can. You are not a teacher. And if you are a teacher and you’re teaching your children, they may still not see you as a teacher, they see you as a parent. When I think about the lessons and struggles that I experienced last week (and this week) as a parent, I couldn’t help but think of the systemic issues that could serve as barriers for some families. Those include: poor internet connection in rural areas; working parents who still have to work a full shift from home and may not have the time to go through each lesson with their children; single parents and/or parents of multiple children at different grade levels who may or may not have access to more than one electronic device; families who cannot afford strong internet services or electronic devices needed to complete distance learning; families whose first language may not be English and may have difficulty understanding some of the lesson plans; families whose educational training may find it difficult to understand some of the concepts being taught; students who may struggle with learning disabilities or require additional support that may not be able to be provided through this distance learning method; parents or other caregivers who may not be technologically knowledgeable; etc. I know I am missing more, but those are just a few, at the top of my head.
We can only do the best we can. We need to modify our expectations and be okay with not knowing how to do some of this. We need to use our resources and ask for help when we need it. We can still be flexible. The teachers don’t expect you to be teachers either. I commend all educators for the work that they have had to put in to help our children continuing to learn and I understand that some of the teachers may also be facing some systemic barriers too. We are all in unfamiliar territory and we are in survival mode, meaning that our main focus is to get through each day healthy and safe. If something is not finished today because you and your child(ren) are about to throw the laptop out the window out of pure frustration, put the laptop down gently and carefully walk away. It will be there tomorrow. Because unfortunately, this is our reality, our normal, for now. Our children will likely not be as prepared for the next school year as we would want them to be. That’s okay. We have been put in the position to be creative in continuing the education of our children, and I am referring to both families and educators.
So be kind to yourself. You are doing a great job. Be grateful that in the current mode of survival, you have succeeded one more day. Your home is not a school, and it’s not meant to be. Your children will be fine. They are resilient. They will learn to adapt to new environments and unpredictable changes. Everything after this will hopefully be more manageable. Just think, one day in our future, we will be able to say, “You think that’s bad? It’s not a pandemic, remember??”