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Structure and Routine: The Transition from Summer to School-Time

By Lori Jackson

In the art of being a true parent, it’s always a bittersweet moment when summer winds down and the school year forges ahead. I look at my kids and think, wow, another year…just gone. I often wonder how parents capture it all, and yet long so strongly for the structure and routine of the school year. While our summer was filled with camps, trips, getaways, hiking, swimming, and lots of family time, I long for a bit of routine again.

I often have parents come into our practice with little ones who are highly anxious, who struggle with any disruption to their routine and structure, and who are at their wits end with trying to get their child to be calm and collected. I, too, struggle with this in our lives at home, and yet the answer always comes back to the beautiful word of predictability.

Imagine going to a job on your first day and not having a job description. You were hired to do the books, but instead they say, “Find something to do. I think the trash needs taken out.” What? What would you do? I think I would first cry, then get mad, then walk out. But, I am a bit of an emotional reactor. So, I use this example to emphasize the meaning of predictability and routine. We long to know what’s ahead, what’s coming and what is expected of us, and I promise, this doesn’t change with age. One thing parents often miss is the structure and routine of letting their children know what is coming and how it will look. Children, just like adults, have minds that create and assign meaning to things, so when their little minds do just this, it can lead to some rather intense beliefs and thoughts, which can often lead to stress and anxiety.

School years offer some reprieve from this feeling. We can find ourselves breathing easy when the alarm goes off and we must get up, get dressed, brush all of the necessaries, eat a good breakfast, head to school by 8, then off to work, only to turn around at 3:15 for pick up, home for homework, off to guitar and gymnastics, then home for dinner, maybe a game, baths, story time, and sleep. Wake, and repeat…Whew! What a system. It can feel a bit confining and boring, yet affords us ease and comfort when there is consistency in our daily routine.

I often wonder how a teacher, one individual (often too young to be a parent themselves), can manage a group of 28-30 little humans, when I have a difficult time containing my three. Yikes! But all in all, it’s the routine, the structure, and the predictability of what is coming that offers ease and consistency for the entire lot of them. So… without going overboard and writing the play by play, take a moment and jot down your household routine, make it pretty, fun, and be sure to put free time (or playtime) on it, because we all know too well that it flies by, and without a little fun, what are we doing? And… we all do better knowing what’s on the way, so let’s get on the same page. Here’s an image of ours at home. Feel free to copy.

Goodbye summer, hello structure. A beautiful combination of fun and ease.

 

XX Lori

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Identify your child’s feelings and help your child after a divorce

Most of us can tell when our children are upset because they act out. They scream, yell, throw temper tantrums, or begin to have struggles in school. Children do not have the ability to bridge what they are feeling with their actions unless taught to do so. So when your child exhibits any of the following behaviors that may not have been as prominent before your divorce, it may be time to talk with them:

1. They “grow up” or act older than their age. This often occurs in children who are pleasers and they want you to be happy, so they will put their “child needs” aside to help you and show you that they are not a burden and that they are capable, strong, etc. What it most often really means is that they are scared and worried and don’t want to make things worse, so they are putting their needs aside for you. You can assure your child that you have got things under control and will do your best to ensure life is functioning and as normal as it can be, but that it will be difficult to adjust to a new life. Let them know that it is OK for them to remain the child and to have fun, and you will carry the grown up stuff for the time being.

2. They “act out” or begin to get into trouble, perhaps bullying or picking on others more. This typically means that they are really scared and hurting inside and no one is “really listening” to them, so they show their hurt to the ones who are vulnerable and weaker than them. Often times these children need love and attention. They need a safe place that will not shame them, belittle their feelings or make them question what they are doing. Spend QUALITY time with them. Play games, go for walks, sing songs, draw pictures, paint, tell stories, camp out in the living room, play baseball or basketball, fly a kite, whatever it takes to just be (and put all electronics away, including the TV).

3. They “get quiet” or shut down. When a child shuts down and gets quiet, it often means he/she is unsure how to express themselves. You can help them by letting them know they can talk with you anytime and that you will ONLY LISTEN. When you are done listening, ask them what they need, this will help them to learn about their needs and feelings. Spend time with them after this. Take them for a drive, go to the mountains, go on a hike, roller skate at the park, fishing, activities that support little talk but allow for a space to be OK with not talking. If they are ready, they will open up; if they don’t, keep doing it, it will eventually come out.

4. They “turn into babies.” Whenever I see children who talk like a baby, or act like a baby, it typically translates to them wanting love and affection. So rather than belittle them or tell them to act their age, when they are out of the baby talk moment, ask them to snuggle with you for a little bit. Sing a song with them, draw a picture with them, go for a walk, take them out for a meal (and don’t bring your phone or another person).

5. They “begin to hate you” or they treat you as though you are a fault for the divorce. You may or may not have been the decision maker in your divorce, however, this is not the reason your child is angry. They are angry because they are hurt and scared and “their feelings” in the situation probably were not taken into account when the divorce decision occurred (which is very normal). When a child is angry at a parent, it often means that they feel safest with that parent so they take it out on them mostly because the parent of choice will not hold it against the child or retaliate. You can tell them that it is OK for them to be mad at you, you understand their anger, you might be angry too if you were in their shoes, but that you never intended to hurt them and you are sorry for their pain.

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What Every Mom NEEDS To Know About Post Partum Depression

There are 3 types of post-partum;
 a) Post-partum anxiety, which is a heightened experience of anxiousness that is onset after the birth of a baby. Symptoms of anxiety often include, racing thoughts, sweating, rapid talking, headaches, dizziness, and an increased heart rate.

b) Post-partum depression, which is an increase in depressive symptoms such as crying, isolation, feeling helpless, alone and sad.

c) Post partum psychosis is a much more integrated form of post-partum and needs medical attention, as mothers often begin having delusional thoughts, rapid mood swings, increased irritability, mania, swings from mania to depression, all of which feel real and scary which can often lead mothers to acting in ways she would not normally act.

More women experience a form of post-partum that statistics typically show;

If you were to ask around to all of the women you know, and inquire about whether they had experienced post-partum after the birth of their child, many would say that they did. Most women are unable and or unwilling to announce their experience, ask for help or admit they are struggling because of the stigma that is placed on new mothers and post-partum.

Often times women are not asked how they are feeling, and if they do announce their struggles it is minimized as being “baby-blues” or maximized so people think that the mother or baby are not safe.  So, in turn, there are thousands of women who do not report, are not asked, and are unaware of the symptoms they are experiences as being considered post-partum until typically 18-24 months after the birth of their child. Women are usually able to look back and say, “wow, I think I was really struggling.”

Most women feel like they don’t have a place to turn to;

Often times new mothers are unsure what is happening to them, and if they have the courage to ask for help and announce their feelings, knowing where to turn after this is difficult. Increasing the awareness and supportive community between mothers, providers, and people who work directly with new and planning families is imperative.  Helping women by creating support groups, finding therapists and psychiatrists who are specialized in post partum are a must.  If you know a woman or are a woman who is/has experienced post-partum, don’t be afraid to reach out, find a safe person, ask them to ask, and spread the word about the need, and more will be created.

Post-partum is treatable;

The majority of mothers who experience post-partum go through it for typically between 2 and 18 months.  Depending on the time of intervention, and increased support, women can feel a sense of relief if they have a safe place to turn to and can work through her emotional struggle.  With support and awareness women can work through post partum fairly smoothly.  There are treatment program that are specific to a 12 week model while others can be focused on the individual mother and can last up to 24 months depending on the needs of each person.  However, nearly all mothers who experience post-partum have a “light at the end of the tunnel” and can feel relief when it is pas them.

Post-partum does not mean you will always struggle with depression and anxiety;

Post-partum is typically a combination of environmental factors and chemical imbalances after the shift of hormones in the body. In turn when the chemicals reorganize and find their old or new homes, and the environment the new mother is in has calmed, found normalcy, and is adjusted to the major life shift, she can typically experience a sense of release. Most mothers who experience post partum will highly benefit from the support of professionals and will find her recovery period is shortened after seeking support.

Infant attachment can have lifelong effects on children if not corrected or mitigated;

Many adults who struggle with attachment, feeling internally secure, and or experience difficulties with relationships can often look back and determine that their mother had post-partum. When mothers are unable to attach to their infants in the first 18 months, the likelihood of being able to attach to their children after this (to the degree needed for improvement in those first 18 months) is very low.

When children are not securely attached to a caregiver, they will more than likely not securely attach to anyone as they develop and grow. They may be fine academically, developmentally and intellectually, however emotionally they will have a difficult time adjusting, building trusting relationships, feeling connected and secure, and creating a safe internal sense of security and trust. If you know any women who experienced post-partum that was untreated and her child is older and acting out in attention seeking manners, inquire if she/you experienced post-partum.

And know, it is not too late to rebuild that trust, it just takes a little extra work and focus but can be mitigated, and the earlier the better, so not to create many unwanted behaviors and coping skills in the interim.

All in all post partum is difficult, can be scary, and can feel extremely isolating as a new mother.  If you are or know a mother who is experiencing any form of post partum let you know there are resources an support available to her.

What is NEXT FOR ME?

Monthly support groups, walk-therapy, mother-infant attachment work, individual counseling, couples therapy, family therapy, parental coaching, and parenting classes are all forms of support that may help a mother in her transition and may allow a form of release that can change the lives of families

photo credit: ♥KatB Photography♥ via photopin cc

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What the heck does Post Partum actually mean?

As mothers there seems to be an unspoken understanding of what “post-partum” actually means.

Women who say, “I have PPD” (or Post-Partum Depression), can get a variety of responses to this one statement.  Many women simply are terrified of saying this statement due to the high levels of stigmas that have engulfed our culture and mothers in general. 

When I work with a mother who is experiences the birth of a new child, whether it is her first, or fifth baby, my first job is to understand her emotional state. As a mother to three little ones, I can empathize with the “emotional state” she experiences, but as a clinician I want to help both demystify and normalize the experience of what having a little person can do her women emotionally, physically and intellectually.

I help women identify whether they experience post partum depression, post partum anxiety, post partum psychosis, and the baby-blues.

What is all of this?

One often asks, and I help by explaining, first, it is a very normal response that your body is having physical changes as well as the hormonal imbalances, but add to it, major life stressors that cause women to struggle.

Most woman who experience anything other than sheer joy after having a baby, often keep the ladder to themselves, meaning they don’t share their feelings, fears, worries, or sadness for fear that people will judge them, think they are less than normal, believe they are going to harm their children, and they are treated similarly to how one might think an alien to be treated.

It is OK to not be filled with elation after your baby is born, it is what you do with it, that can help yours and your babies future.

Our lives are stressful enough, we have enough judgment and shame and fear as it is, why would, should we punish a woman who has just gone through what, anyone who has actually witnessed childbirth may describe as, a traumatic, yet life changing event.

Let’s work on taking the stigma out of post partum and know that the majority of women who experience post partum often experience a mild form of depression or anxiety and typically very few women experience post partum psychosis.  When we lump the names together there is much more stigma that comes from the experience, so let’s delineate them.

Post partum baby-blues; this is common in many mothers which often occurs shortly after having a child and typically only lasts a few weeks. Women are weepy, sad, lonely, feel isolated, overwhelmed, and often anxious.

Baby-blues typically is short lived and corrects itself as hormones begin to find the places in and out of your body.

Post partum depression; otherwise known as PPD, often occurs within the first 18 months after childbirth. Women who experience depression, typically show signs of feeling depressed, such as sadness, being tired, losing energy, lack of emotion, distancing selves from others, lack of drive, inability to relate or connect with family, baby, or friends.  Post partum depression can also overlap with anxiety in some women and is often heightened if there is a history of abuse in the home, substances are involved, and often with young mothers feeling like they’ve lost a sense of self.

Post partum anxiety; this often occurs within the first 18 months after childbirth and can manifest into full anxiety attacks and anxiety disorders if not supported or treated. Women are prone to anxiety when they feel unsupported, lonely, fearful, judged, tired, and nervous and as though they are not “keeping up” with what is expected.

Anxiety is, in translation an experience of the body saying “this is too much, I can’t hold all of this in.” So when the body gives up to the stressors it is carrying, the mind begins to race, the heart will pound, hands may shake, and many other symptoms can begin to occur.

Post Partum Psychosis; this is the most severe form of post partum one may experience. Symptoms typically occur within a week to two after the birth of their baby, and are followed with depression sometimes at later dates.

The psychosis portion is when a woman will begin to have severe and drastic mood swings, hallucinations, extreme irritability, mania, paranoia, delusions, and a rapid swing from depression to mania as well.  Postpartum psychosis is treatable and will end, and when a woman is experiencing postpartum psychosis, this is very serious and needs medical attention and support immediately, so please help support yourself or her.

All forms of Postpartum can and are treatable and all women who are even curious, questioning, or feeling symptoms have the right to seek and find support.

Finding the right support is imperative. Interview several doctors, ask them about their history in working with post partum, interview several therapists, and ask them if they can help support you with your family. Find support groups for women and mothers, one will be surprised at the number of women who struggle with the same things as you do.  And always listen to your gut to determine your path and what you need, you know you best, and you are deserving of health and wellness.

For more information:
Lori Jackson, MA, NCC

720.432.2813
lori@denvercounselingoptions.com
 www.postpartumsupportinternational.net

photo credit: Lars Plougmann via photopin cc

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How Prenatal Chiropractic Care Helps the Pregnant Women

DrMauraFletcherAs a prenatal chiropractor, I believe that the work I do with pregnant women helps to support the mama-baby bond. As I provide a chiropractic adjustment to a pregnant woman, the adjustment brings ease, balance, and better function to the mama. This ease and balance is transferred to and felt by the growing baby. Ease in mom’s body helps to create ease in the womb which helps support the developing mother-infant bond.

When my husband and I made the decision to consciously conceive, we made several choices to prepare my body to become a womb/home for the little being that decided to come earth side. Mentally, I was very ready to be a mom. I had some work to do physically. I was so committed to the process of preparation because I knew that the choices I made during pre-conception, conception and pregnancy would have an impact on my health, the health of my child and the bond that was developing between us. The things I did for myself are the same things I recommend for my pregnant clients.

To support my health I chose, prenatal chiropractic care, massage, herbal supplementation, exercise, good nutrition, and a birth provider that honored my philosophies around the human body and the natural process of birth. Taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do to build a secure bond between you and your baby. When you feel good, your baby feels good. It is so, so critical to do the things you need to do to support yourself as your body does the amazing work of growing another human being.

One of the staples of my self-care plan during pregnancy was prenatal chiropractic care. As a prenatal chiropractor, certified in the Webster Technique, my focus is on the function and balance of the nervous system. I focus on the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves) because it is the master controller and regulator of all body function. I use the spine as a window into the function of the nervous system. With pregnant women, I pay particular attention to the alignment of her pelvis. I do this because there is a relationship of the alignment of her pelvis and uterine function due to the many ligamentous attachments of the uterus to the pelvis. When the pelvis is out of alignment, we call this a subluxation. A subluxation of the pelvis can create unequal tone of the uterine ligaments which can affect the position of the uterus which can in turn affect the position of the baby. Additionally if the pelvis is out of alignment, there can be pressure on the nerves that supply the uterus potentially creating less than optimal uterine function. My job as a prenatal chiropractor is to check the spine and pelvis for subluxations and adjust the subluxations. When I remove subluxations, there is less tension in the body, a better brain body communication and the body functions better.

Pregnant women come to my practice for different reasons. Some come because of an issue of discomfort such as low back pain, pubic symphysis pain, pelvic pain, and headaches. Some come because they did not have the birth experience they desired with their first child and want a different birth experience with their second child. They have heard that prenatal chiropractic care can help support that goal. Some come because their baby is not in an ideal position for birth. Some come because they just know it is the right thing to do to support herself and her baby. Whatever her reason for seeking care, my job is to clear her nervous system and allow her body to function better.

I loved being pregnant. I am very proud of my birth experience. I want as many women as possible to have the pregnancy and birth that they desire. That is why I do what I do. Weekly when I work with my pregnant clients, I am in constant awe and wonder of the amazing ability of the female body to support the growth and development of another human being. I know that what I do helps this process. I am thankful for the opportunity to support women and the bond that exists between her and her baby.

Dr. Maura Fletcher is a prenatal chiropractor at Well Beings Chiropractic Family Health in north Lakewood. Along with her husband, Dr. Jacob Fletcher, they help families heal, grow, and thrive. They serve the entire family from infants to grandparents. If you want to learn more about how chiropractic care can help you during your pregnancy, feel free to contact Dr. Maura at DrMaura@WellBeingsChiropractic.com.

I’d love to hear more about your pregnancy and birth experience! Comment Below.

photo credit: J. Star via photopin cc

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