Returning to work brings new challenges

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pollen much? As the Lowcountry moves from winter to spring, we have new joys and challenges. I am hearing more about allergies, Easter plans, planning kids’ spring vacations and even looking ahead to summer plans for kids. As always, comments about relationships, loss, anxiety and depression, family feuding and overall communication keep coming in too. Thank you for the comments and questions. I will try to answer some personally as time permits. If you don’t hear back, write again, please.

Dear Liz,

I just got a new full time job (yay) but just in time for my children’s spring and then summer vacations. My husband travels a lot in his job, and we are relatively new to the area. The kids are in public school, grades three, five and seven, so they still need good, safe supervision, which I also want to be fun. Do you have ideas on helping the children adjust to my new schedule and finding good help?

Lots going on

Dear “Lots,”

You are spot-on to your priorities for the children as you work. The good news is they are old enough to be entertained in our area, both in-home and out. For your elementary school aged kids, check into Kaleidoscope (after school program). Within those programs are not only after school homework and well-supervised social interaction, there are also special programs like Karate for Success. Check with Wando Community Schools and/or your Kaleidoscope Director at the school. Some schools continue to run over the summer as well, which includes fun field trips.

For your middle school-er, check with the guidance department for ideas, and offerings at Wando Community Schools. I also recommend checking with the Wando guidance department and your local churches for names of responsibility babysitters. I always recommend sitters with special training offered by the American Red Cross and other agencies, and that the children’s parents be reachable while they work.

It is advisable to check with your neighborhood association as well as Mount Pleasant (or the islands) Recreation departments for their great offerings. East of the Cooper is a great place to live. I hope you will find that your biggest problem will be choosing among many possibilities.

As for your children’s adjustment — sit down at a calm time and discuss your plans for making sure they are safe, doing their responsibilities and having fun, while you are at work. Make sure they know how and when to reach you. Find a back-up in your neighborhood as well. Your seventh grader is getting close to babysitting age, but explain that you need to make sure he or she gets to have fun and not be on duty, especially with siblings who may (or may not) cooperate. Listen to their fears and concerns as well. Make sure that you take care of yourself as you adjust — and do what is necessary to give each child some of your focused time when you are off. They will adjust basically as well as you do (pressure). So, make the most of family meals, make sure everyone in the family pitches in, have off time together to play — including being unplugged from devices when mama is home. Eye contact, listening, “chilling” together — so important for exchanging the love we all crave.

(Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.)

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