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#AskJulie: Summer Sadness + Teens

“Ever since school let out, my 14 year-old has been moody, down, grumpy, isn’t sleeping and doesn’t seem to want to do anything. I don’t understand. It’s like this ever year. Isn’t summer supposed to be a time of fun and happiness? Is there something wrong with her?”

School’s out, the sun is shining, the pools are packed with friends… it’s the carefree summer dream, right?  Not for everyone.  While much of the population can barely contain their excitement for summer’s arrival, a small percentage long for cooler temps and shorter days. If you have noticed that your teen has feelings of depression, sleeplessness and irritability that come at the same time each year, she may have a form of seasonal affective disorder.

girl-375114_1280Summer depression, also called summer seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that commonly shows up in fall and winter. For one percent of the population, the warmer seasons bring on summer SADness.

As the days heat up, those with summer SAD may become extremely irritable, sleep less, and eat less. They may withdraw from friends and activities and isolate indoors.  In its most severe form, people with summer seasonal depression may be more at risk for suicide than cold-weather SAD.  A person with summer SAD may remain indoors, darken the room, and turn up the air conditioning to feel a sense of “normalcy.” However, one step into the heat can take them right back to those feelings of depression.

It’s sometimes easy for parents to overlook symptoms of SAD, or dismiss them as normal mood swings.  The symptoms can be confused with adolescent moodiness, changing hormones, and emotional flux. It’s difficult to know if this is a phase or something more serious. Additionally, summer SAD is often not thought about because there is a sense that everyone should feel happy when days and nights are homework-free, swimsuit-clad and YOLO-infused.  

For those affected (including myself), summer sadness is much more than a Lana del Rey song. Please consult a family physician or a licensed mental health professional to determine the right treatment.

julie

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Case Study: Communication Disconnect

Case Study: Communication Disconnect with 13-Year-Old Boy

The Challenge

“I can’t get through to my son. All he does is ignore me, roll his eyes and say “okay.”

This parent called to ask for solutions in how to get her 13-year-old son to open up. She missed the child he had always been and couldn’t understand what happened. She was worried that he may be headed down, what she coined, “a bad path” and that she was making mistakes.

The Solution

After an initial meeting with both mom and son together, I began working individually with mom to help her understand the developmental changes her son was experiencing. Together, we worked on specific communication patterns, the language to tweens and teens, when to step back and when to step and much more. We created strategies that worked for her and her son to do more than just talk but to reconnect and engage. Additionally, we looked at how she was experiencing a developmental shift alongside her son. Because of that awareness, mom was able to start distinguishing between her needs and her son’s needs.

 

The Result

After a handful of sessions, mom noticed that her son wasn’t ignoring her and he was actually coming to her to talk. Both mom and son were accepting of each other’s need for connection and privacy. Mom also felt less suspicious and worried about her son’s behavior and moods. In her words, “I know when to worry and when not to now.” At a six-month check-in, mom and son were still talking and spending one-on-one time together. Mom had also begun spending time pursuing her own dreams by going back to school to become a preschool teacher.

 

“I’ll be the first to admit that I was skeptical
about getting parent coaching. I mean, really,
I should know how to raise my son.
However, working with you has completely changed my mind.
This has nothing to do with me raising my son the right way,
and everything to do with understanding where he and I are
in our lives. I was most surprised to learn that
my son wasn’t the only one changing, I was too.
Julie helped me figure out what I need to be both
a great mom and a happy woman.
The best thing about Julie is that she never once made me feel bad or inferior – actually, it was just the opposite.
I felt so good about my choices and confident in myself and my relationship with my son!”
~ J.K.

 

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The Gifts New Parents Really Need

Presents3My life is filled with so much tween-to-teen angst and chaos. However, I still remember all too well what it was like to be a new parent.

New parents are often overwhelmed by the birth of their newborn. And usually, quite often, the thought of unwrapping another hooded duck towel, snap-happy onesie, or bright red rattle can set mom and dad into a tailspin. That’s why sometimes the best gift isn’t something for the infant, but a present for the new parents. After all, when mom – and dad – are happy, everyone’s happy.

Gifts of Food: Once a newborn arrives, it’s difficult to microwave a cup of water, not to mention go to the grocery store and prepare a meal. Providing the new family with a home-cooked meal is certain to be favored. Better yet, arrange a week or a month’s worth of meals with a group of pals. Not confident with your culinary skills? Go grocery shopping for the family or give them a gift certificate for their favorite take-out or delivery place.

Gifts of Relaxation: Moms are dads are so busy tending to their new arrival that they rarely relax. But they’ll surely appreciate it if you provide them opportunities to take in life’s little luxuries to take care of themselves. A basket full of products to pamper – bubble bath, moisturizer, loofahs, sponges, aromatherapy candle – is certain to please. Certificates for a massage or a yoga class can bring a smile to newbie parents as well.

Gifts of Memories: Proud parents appreciate gifts that preserve memories of their infant’s arrival. Framing a birth announcement or having a photo-imprinted mug is always a great idea. Parents often wear their hearts on their sleeves once after the baby is born. Give them a chance to show their pride on their writes with customized charm bracelets and keepsakes.

Gifts of Time: What’s the one thing parents need the most? Free time, of course! Give them exactly what they what by offering to babysit, clean or connect with each other or with the baby’s siblings. Create a homemade gift certificate for child care or cleaning services to that they can redeem at their leisure.

Come to think of it … these gifts aren’t just great for new parents. They work for any parent! :)

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With Intention

Living_with_intentionToday, I did something that I hadn’t done in quite a long time.

I moved. With intention.

I sat. With intention.

I ate. With intention.

I watched. With intention

I wrote. With intention.

I listened. With intention.

I parented. With intention.

Today, I was me. With intention.

Lately, I have felt like I have been spending much more time doing and less being. Don’t get me wrong, I like doing stuff. Doing feels like that is where the action is. I also like being. That seems to be where the magic is.  Something seems to be missing, though. There needs to be a universal connector between my doing and my being. And, that connector is intention.

So, what is intention anyway?  Often, it feels like it is just an overused buzzword to sound more spiritual or relevant. It’s more to me, though. Intention is breathing. It is inhaling and exhaling. It is being present in each each moment.

So, whether I am building a sand castle with my kids or building my empire with my business, I will continue to do so with intention.

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5 Ways for Parents to Stop Suffering from “I’m Too Busy!”

toobusyThe other day, I was racing to get my kids to school on time and proclaimed, “Geez, we are so busy this week!” My son replied, “Um, Mom, when are we not busy? It’s the story of our life.”

Yikes. He was right. Busy had become the story of our life, and I didn’t foresee it having a happy ending. I couldn’t remember when we weren’t either doing something or thinking about doing something. Busy had become our new norm. As our school-work-life load grew, our family time shrank. It felt like quality time together had fallen off our bulging to-do list.

This is no way to live. Something has to change. Here are five ideas to take the busyness out of our days:

Define what matters most. What are the 4-5 things in your life that you love to do? For me, it’s spending time with family, writing, reading, hiking and teaching. That’s it; those are my top five.  However, those things have not been anywhere near the top lately. I’ve been scheduling my time around what I believe others expect of me. If we don’t start creating a life that reflects the things we see as priorities, we will live a life of regrets. Be responsible to the activities that fuel you rather than just steal time away from what matters most.   

Schedule time for you and your family first. This builds on the first point. After you have defined what is important, schedule it. Create blocks of time for yourself and your family. Make sure these are work/errand-free times. These are the moments to laugh, talk, cry … these are the moments to be un-busy.

Do Less. The best laid plans start with doing what matters most to you, right? But, what happens if something pressing comes up and you say yes? All those well-intentioned plans go right down the toilet. One of my mentors told me long ago, “Julie, if it isn’t a hell yes then it’s a no.” Begin to set boundaries to let go of living a maybe, meh or half-cocked life. Set boundaries that say “hell yes” to you and your family.

Buy Less. A year ago, I decided to stop buying as much and something really fantastic happened. I had more time. The fewer clothes, fewer tchotchkes, fewer whatever you have, the less time you are committed to washing, dusting, maintaining it.  Buying “stuff” is time consuming, as is maintaining, repairing, replacing and returning the stuff. If you can reduce it, you will gain so much more.

Stop “shoulding” on yourself. I once had a very frustrated mom come into my practice exclaiming, “But I should be able to get it all done. How do I do it?” I replied, “You can’t! None of us can ‘get it all done.’ And, the more you think you ‘should,’ the more you will beat yourself up.” The lesson here is to stop shoulding on yourself and start making choices that make you feel better.

Busyness really can be a sneaky destroyer of happiness. We walk fast, talk fast, eat fast and then announce, “Ack, I’ve got more to do!”  All this busyness splinters our families and our lives.  When our schedules become overloaded, we start skimming from those we love.

So, the takeaway here for me and for you: It’s our life; let’s choose how we really want to spend our time. If we don’t, someone else will … and chances are high we won’t be too happy about it.

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