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At Home - Strategies from a Child Psychiatrist


I get it. I really do. If you are a mom or responsible for young children in the home. This time of shelter at home is more than challenging. First, this change was too sudden for comfort. No one planned for a pandemic in April. Really, it was just not on the calendar. Now that it is on the calendar. How do we survive...OUR FAMILIES?

Before digging into the substance of this blog, I would like to thank all the people in direct service professions who are doing the essential work so that we can limit the spread of this deadly virus, I send prayers of safety and health to you and your families.

This blog is particularly for the people who are at home, either working from home with children or off work staying home with children. So here we are. Two weeks into a 1 month shelter in place with our family. What do we do? “How do we survive- OUR FAMILIES?”

In the course of my day to life I have been computing inside my brain an answer to this very question. And from my years of training as a psychiatrist and coach, and experience being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, granddaughter, and friend. I am happy to share with you some of what I have learned. Because I deeply believe that emotional survival skills are a must have and not optional living today. For this reason, I have put together a few key yet simple strategies that will help you survive your family.

Let's start with Schedule Your ME TIME 1st!

In this blog I will discuss the What, How, When, Where, and Why of my definition of ME TIME.

ME TIME is a must have for EVERYONE in the household children and tots included.

So WHAT is this ME TIME that I am describing?

ME TIME is a designated time in your day where you actively reflect on your life. It is not time to binge watch your favorite Netflix.

How do you go about ME TIME?

Key components of structuring your me time include using this time to :

1) Discern your needs

2) Plan your Priorities

3) Practice Breathing, Prayer, or Personal Meditation

4) Give yourself empathy

5) Celebrate with gratitude and Mourn with gratitude.

WHEN is the best time for ME TIME?

Early in the morning as your first activity is best. Yet you do not have to be perfect. Other really good times are after breakfast or lunch or before you go to sleep at night. Sometimes I will incorporate ME TIME twice in my day, upon arising in the morning AND in the evening before bed. The key is that you MUST schedule it first and build your day around your ME TIME. ME TIME takes the highest priority - yes it comes before feeding the kids. Set out a bowl of fruit, cereal or snacks and let your children figure it out until you have had your 30 minutes of ME TIME.

WHERE is the best place for ME TIME?

Ideally your favorite little corner of your home. You can have a favorite chair or couch, your bed, a mat on the floor. Wherever you can create a quiet space that reminds each day of the beauty within you of you. If you look around your room and you do not have such a space. Create it now. Find a chair, a blanket, a picture, a figurine, a shelf, a splash of your favorite color and claim a 3 foot square space yours.

Why is ME TIME necessary?

You as an individual require consistent daily time to yourself for solitude. Some of you may require only 10-20 minutes a day others of you will thrive on 1- 2 hours daily. Some people believe that they must give 100% of their time to others and this is a very hurtful myth, in fact giving 100% of your time to others can lead to frustration, resentment, anger and burnout. A person that neglects ME TIME, would expect to experience each day as rockier, with more turbulent and erratic relationships and interactions as compared to someone who uses ME TIME.

In my opinion, ME TIME is actually a basic tool for emotional survival. If you learn to actively implement and value your ME TIME, ME TIME will become the most valuable and meaningful part of your day. You, your spouse, your kids, friends and family will benefit 1000-fold.

In my next installment I will go in depth into the WHAT, the key components of ME TIME, and give a template for you and your kids. Stay tuned!

Jessica K. Hairston, MD

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