By Ginger Houghton, LMSW Bright Spot Therapy (www.brightspottherapy.com)
I’m writing this blog from inside the belly of the beast. My 2.5, 5 and 7 year old boys are knee deep in the middle of creating and painting cardboard box robots. My sink is mostly full of dinner dishes and the dog is signaling me he has to go out. I’m enjoying a few quite moments before I usher everyone up to shower and bed.
This is my life outside of session. In the past 8 months, after 10 years at local non-profits, I’ve transitioned from the non-profit world department to the steep learning curve of private practice.
My kids are happier, I’m saner. I’m pushing to make yoga a part of my daily routine, and I manage to meditate in the morning before I get to my AM sessions. I’m working to adapt and change my routine and priorities as my three boys move through different developmental stages. My kids are not always angels, my house is definitely not clean by traditional standards and my dog has both patience and incredible bladder control. Here are the things I’ve found to be essential:
1. CONNECT MORE OFTEN
It’s so hard to find time for coffee or a drink or walk with another therapist. Despite the crunch for time, every coffee or lunch date has reinvigorated me and pushed me through another barrier in my practice.
2. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU NEED FOR SELF-CARE. ORGANIZE YOUR SCHEDULE AROUND IT.
One of the most glorious benefits of private practice is flexibility. Once you know that your body needs exercise in the middle of the afternoon or that you turn heinous if you miss your lunch, you know what things are non-negotiable. Structure your day around meeting your needs so you can best meet the needs of your clients and family members. For example, I know that I frequently nibble snacks in between sessions and schedule a 45 minute block for an afternoon run several days of the week. For me, this makes a huge difference in how fresh I feel in sessions. It also keeps me from feeling depleted while I run in for school pick-ups or wait in car line!
3. FIND YOUR THERAPIST MOM TRIBE AND STEAL THEIR HACKS
One of my most treasured friends, a fellow mom and therapist has shared incredible tips with me on her morning routine to help get everyone off to school on time. I gave her all my best school lunch hacks that reduce my lunch-packing efforts to a mere 8 minutes (yes, I’ve counted!) each evening.
4. BE SO KIND TO YOURSELF
If you are reading this, you’re likely either in practice or debating and living with your tiny tribe. Know that you’re in good company. Know that your kids will benefit from your pluck, adaptability and humility as you find balance in between your worlds.
For other therapists with young families, how are you finding balance? What are your tricks?