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Has your world turned upside down during coronavirus? Are you suddenly isolated from your life and work, working from home and home schooling your children? You are not alone.

Social distancing to slow and eventually stop the destruction of the coronavirus is of the utmost importance, of course, but !@#$%^&!!!!!!

Thankfully, we have technology and can work from home. Many are not as fortunate and are unemployed until this ends. I feel for them, but appreciating continued employment doesn't make this any easier. THIS IS HARD!!

I know many parents wish they could afford to stay at home with their children, some may even have wanted to home school in an ideal world. None wanted to home school at a moments notice AND work while they do it! It's overwhelming. It's challenging. It's chaotic. It feels impossible at times. It's lonely even though you aren't alone. And most of all, it feels like everything is piling up, the things we need to get done like haircuts, dentist appointments, check-ups and all the errands we can't do right now.

There are things parents can do to help kids settle down and adjust during forced isolation. Here are some tips and tricks to help manage the isolation, the close quarters, the boredom.

Structure. Schedule. Routines.

The more you can keep your normal routines, the easier it will be for everyone. Kids need predictability and structure to keep themselves and their feelings under control. When breakfast, lunch and dinner are around the same time every day, kids know what to expect. It helps them regulate their emotions. This is especially true for children because even when they can tell time, their sense of time is off. Add to that the twilight zone of the internet where hours go by and it feels like only 5 minutes. You see the outcome of this on the weekends or school breaks where children will skip meals, get too hungry and overreact to small things.

More importantly, and especially during a pandemic, keeping your normal routines let's kids know that everything will be ok. So what if we don't know when we will go back to school, find tp in the stores or get a haircut, we know that life is continuing as it always had and we will be ok. If you can mimic some of their school schedule, even better. We call that continuity and it makes kids feel safe and secure. It also helps them know that we will go back to school, school is important, and again, we will be ok.

Ultimately, keeping your normal schedules and routines for your children will help you keep your sanity. It's easy to let things go and enjoy the time off, but the schedule is your friend and will help things stay more organized and less chaotic. You can use structure to help you have time for yourself and to work. For instance, if you have a meeting everyday at 9 am, and you have deemed that silent reading time, your children will quickly get used to the idea and be more able to maintain a quiet activity for the duration of your meeting.

Some ideas for using structure to get work done

For school age children who don't need constant direct supervision, try some of these ideas to build into your schedule so that you can work or take some time to shower, plan and yes, even relax. And it's ok to use technology, today's teachers are expected to use as much technology as possible.

- place tech time where you need it in your schedule

- let kids choose a half hour using an educational app and the other half free tech time

- sign up for a one time online class. They have coding, art, solve mysteries and more.

- tv time, educational or fun

- video chat with family and friends

- journal writing - you can give them a few topics to choose from

- drawing time - draw pictures related to journal writing or free drawing

Include your children in your use of structure

Let kids have some say in how you design the schedule like picking snack time or when they exercise. Children will feel more ownership and respect for the schedule. Another idea is to have your child decorate posters they can hang up that show when things will happen. Remind them throughout the day what is coming up to help them transition easier. Engage kids in setting up for the next activity, cleaning up from a meal or project and checking off completed tasks. Just remember to be flexible. The idea of using structure is to loosely organize your family's day, not to worry about start and stop times. If you're having fun, you can skip, postpone or reschedule the next activity. The use of a schedule will help kids handle changes to the schedule more easily.

Try to have some fun, laugh at the goof's and praise your child for their effort. You are a pioneer in a new frontier, there is no roadmap, yet you will find your way and have some amazing stories to boot! You've got this!

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These are uncertain times, and honestly, kind of scary. Fortunately, we have the technology to stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic. I'm able to offer online counseling to Illinois residents where I am licensed as a Clinical Psychologist.

The whole idea of online therapy is a little intimidating; I know I found it all a bit overwhelming and strange, to say the least. I have provided in-person psychological services to children and families since 1994.

The thought of using video to do the work I've always done brought up a lot of strong feelings for me. Then we were hit with a pandemic, and voila; I'm providing online counseling. I'm a helper at heart, so, what choice did I have?

And, I have to say, it's been one of the easiest changes I've ever made. You can make the change, too.

Maybe you are looking for someone to talk to during this time of isolation, or you'd like a longer commitment, online therapy can meet your needs. I offer flexible hours and a super easy online therapy platform that is private, HIPAA compliant and secure, which means that sessions are not recorded and your information is not given to anyone.

Whether you call it: telehealth, teletherapy, online counseling, eTherapy, FaceTime therapy, Skype counseling, online therapy, Facebook therapy, online psychotherapy, e-counseling or virtual therapy, online sessions offer therapy in the comfort of your home.

Here are a few steps you need to take in order to have an online counseling session.

1. Schedule and appointment.

2. Complete consent for telehealth.

3. Download app for phone and tablet users.

Computer users need only click the link.

4. Click on link to join your online therapy session.

Easy pea-sy! Here are some tips to help you along the way:

Find a Private Area in your Home

This could be your bedroom, guest room, laundry room or basement. I've heard that when privacy is difficult, people have had sessions in their car (please don't drive or sit in a running car in a garage), on the back porch or even in the bathroom with the toilet seat covered and the vent fan running for added privacy.

Ensure Added Privacy

If you're worried about privacy and others hearing you talk during your online counseling session, using a fan can help! It's just like the sound screen on the floor by my office door. That is all a sound screen is, a small, but powerful fan. I keep my sound screen outside my office to block others from hearing what is being said in the room. And it works! If you can place a fan outside your door, it will block the sound so that no one else can hear you talking during your online therapy. Playing music or running the tv outside the room you are in can help as well. So far, none of my clients have been overheard during their online counseling sessions, but some have been worried about it. I mean, who wants their parents, spouse or child to hear what they are saying, right?! I want you to feel safe and secure during online counseling appointments; plug in a fan, put a movie on for older kids or surprise your wife with her favorite music, and then we can get started.

Connecting for Online Counseling

If you have connection issues try using Wifi on your computer or tablet. See if others in your home can stay off of Wifi during your online therapy time, or limit their use of video applications (Netflix, YouTube, FaceTime, gaming sites, etc.). If you are using a phone, make sure you are in the area with the best reception. Connection issues during online counseling sessions can sometimes be fixed by leaving the session and entering again.

Consent for Teletherapy

Please make sure that you log in to my client portal and sign the telehealth consent form. The email with the link to your online therapy appointment can't generate until this step is complete. If you don't receive an email with the link 10 minutes before your session, please text me and I'll send it.

Get Started

You can find all of the tools you'll need to get started right here:

I can't wait to meet you online soon!

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