The New Parents Practicing Law Group
is pleased to invite you to join them for the following webinar:
WORKING FROM HOME WHILE PARENTING DURING A PANDEMIC
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Join Nicole Gillis-Copping, "Registered Clinical Social Worker" MSW, RSW with Forbes Psychological Counselling as she presents a Survival Guide to Working from Home while Parenting During a Pandemic. Nicole will be presenting a keynote address for 25 minutes and then answering your questions for the remainder of the time.
Please provide your question in your RSVP.
The Alberta Lawyers Assistance Society, Assist, Forbes Psychological Services, and the CPA Assist
invite you to join the following series of free webinars:
Wednesday, April 22 - Matt Cairns
Working from Home: Fortify your Core –
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. (MDT)
Wednesday, April 29 - Laurie Zalmonowitz
Resiliency in Times of Uncertainty –
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. (MDT)
Registration details are found in the links for each seminar.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
Think your cat can pull off a Downward Dog?
To find out, JOIN YOUR COLLEAGUES FROM
ACROSS THE PROVINCE
FOR VIRTUAL NOON YOGA
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM
Once we get your e-mail, we will send you a Zoom invitation to join the class
RED MUG COFFEE CIRCLES
are the answer to anxie-tea!!
We are told that way back—in the 1970s—lawyers used to meet in Calgary on Friday mornings at the Bay coffee shop to chat and swap war stories. Young lawyers would come to hear the wisdom underlying the tales and to learn how to tell war stories too. I am sure that this type of event happened all across the province but it somehow died away as lawyers focused more on maximizing billable hours and docketing time.
We would love to see a return to the fellowship that morning coffee created. We would also love to create connections between all levels at the bar and bench who are making their way in the legal community to provide a little more mentorship and fellowship.
Please join us for online coffee and lunch from 12:00 - 1:00 pm on Monday, April 20 —judges, lawyers, articling students and law students are all welcome. We can’t promise war stories—Loraine was a corporate lawyer so you may not find stories about floating charge debentures entertaining—but we can talk about how we are doing during the pandemic and how we can support each other.
We will be meeting via Zoom. Please email Eileen to get the link.
Everything I Needed to Know I Learned for Kindergartners
Last night, I hosted Assist’s New Parents Practicing Law Group’s “Working from Home While Parenting During the Pandemic.” It is an unwieldy title and it is an unwieldy topic.
Nicole Gillis-Copping, a Calgary family therapist, was our keynote speaker, sharing her wisdom and taking questions. Not only is she a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with excellent academic and professional qualifications, but she is also the mother of triplets, boys, who are 8 years old.
I am the mother of three boys as well, but there is a five-year age difference from oldest to youngest. I remember grocery shopping with my three boys and meeting a mom with triplets around the same age as my youngest (about three). The two girl triplets were sitting peacefully in the front of the cart and the boy triplet was climbing everything in sight. I was thinking, “Three three-year-olds? I don’t know how you do that!” but the mom of the triplets looked at me and said “Three boys? I don’t know how you do it.” The reality is that we all do the best that we can with what we have, both in terms of challenges and resources.
We will be holding a second live session with Nicole on Tuesday, April 21st, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. since we know parents working from home have differing schedules. I couldn’t share Nicole’s wisdom and tips in a short article no matter how hard I try, but I do want to share how we adults can apply her insights to ourselves as self-care during the prolonged period of physical isolation.
First, acknowledge the abnormality we are in. It is important to talk to kids about why we are in physical isolation, but it is also important for our mental health to think through the impact that this is having on us. We need to acknowledge what we are feeling in a non-judgmental way. I can tell you from personal experience that trying to repress negative thoughts and emotions doesn’t work—you can’t make them go away by pretending they aren’t there. So, name your feelings and accept that you are feeling them, whether they are anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, resentment…. They are what they are, and they are yours.
Nicole suggests that you spend a few minutes at bedtime letting these thoughts filter to the top of your consciousness and acknowledge what you are feeling. Take a deep breath and try this visualization exercise.
Imagine that each of these thoughts or emotions are an object—you get to choose what they are. In my example, I am going to imagine that they are red balloons with words printed on them but pick whatever works for you. Then visualize putting all of the objects that represent these thoughts and emotions into a container—mine is a pirate chest with a heavy padlock. You can’t put them away forever but you can put them away over night so you can sleep.
Getting enough sleep is essential—period. It may be even more so during a crisis. Many people sacrifice sleep to achieve short-term goals but remember that this is a marathon and not the 100 metres. We are going to talk about sleep in upcoming bulletins, but try Nicole’s exercise about acknowledging the feelings and putting them away overnight.
Nicole also talked about building physical activity into children’s days. My 26 year-old son who is working at our dining room table has set his Apple watch to prompt him to get up and do an activity every hour. Sometimes I look up from my office and see him doing push ups or squats. You don’t need an Apple watch to do this—you can simply set an alarm when it is time to move around.
Remember Assist’s free live-streamed yoga class on Wednesdays at lunch. We have parents doing yoga with their kids, even some little ones who climb on the parent as they do poses. We love the fact that families are being active together!
I don’t do exercise breaks through the day because my barre classes have online. I “save” my energy for a good workout at the end of my workday and it replicates what my normal was before the pandemic—I went to my barre studio on my way home from work at least three times a week. It is important to retain some normalcy in our routines, and this is one of mine.
Nicole had great ideas about creative activities for kids. You can hear her suggestions on Tuesday afternoon, but when I think about the way that early school grades are structured, I remember that gym and art are most kids’ favourite times.
As adults, we don’t always find time for our creative impulses. They seem to go to the bottom of the list, for after everything on the list gets done, and let’s face it, we don’t get everything on our lists done very often.
I spent much of our snowy, socially-distanced Easter weekend sewing masks and knitting a shawl. I haven’t had my sewing machine or knitting needles out much in the last several years. Once I got over having to seam rip the first attempted mask at every stage and figured it out, I had fun! I made masks to share with my friends and family until I ran out of elastic. I felt energized and that I was actively engaged in fighting the virus.
Not all creative activities have to be that structured. Nicole talked about using painter’s tape on your floor to create a hopscotch between kids’ activities, but I am thinking it would be fun to do between my desk and the kitchen—have a little fun and get a bit of exercise on my to a cup of coffee or a snack I don’t need.
In fact, creativity is a core skill that we need to nurture during the pandemic. I mentioned home barre classes, and perhaps you thought that I had outfitted my house with a barre. Not so: the instructors make helpful suggestions about using kitchen chairs, counters and furniture as makeshift barres. I have been using a wall unit in my family room that is close to the right height (and hoping I don’t accidentally pull it over!). If we don’t have weights or pieces of equipment, we find creative solutions. One woman in our Facebook chat group posted pictures of the large salsa jugs she is using and finds the handles work really well as hand grips.
So, what did I learn from Nicole’s tips for parents of young children that we can apply to ourselves as adults? We need to treat ourselves like kindergarten kids, too. We need good strategies for dealing with our emotions, we need sleep, we need fun, creativity and physical activity.
If you are a parent of young children, please join us on Tuesday to hear Nicole share her “golden nuggets” about Working from Home While Parenting During a Pandemic.
P.S. I don’t want to steal too much thunder from Nicole but Nicole had two key points for us adults. First, we need to set expectations that are reasonable for our situations. You and your spouse may not both be able to work 60 hours per week while at home with a toddler and no other childcare. Secondly, we have to communicate with our housemates as if they are work colleagues (great tip!) and with our employers about how we are doing and what we need.
If you need to talk to your employer about what you can reasonably do from home given your personal circumstances, consider talking to one of our Peer Support volunteers. Many of our Peer Support volunteers are senior lawyers who are or have been partners in law firms. They can help you develop a strategy for communicating with your firm management.