I thought I would trial going back to 4 part blogs again. I did this previously and I take an issue and break it down into different parts. It enables me to look at things from more angles but it also means the blogs are shorter (in theory!). I’ve noticed my blog length creeping up lately and whilst I think that is helpful sometimes I am also conscious that for those going through a separation overwhelm can kick in quickly. So sometimes getting bite size pieces of information over time can be useful. If you like more information you can always read 4 parts in one go!
This series of blogs will focus on preparing for family mediation to try to help you get the best out of the process. If you’re going to expend time, energy and money on it then it makes sense to think about how you can make it work best for you.
In this first part I will be talking about the practical arrangements for mediation and some tips around that. There are 5 tips I’ve included around these to help you think about the arrangements for family mediation. I’ve covered both in person and online meetings so this blog is helpful inside and outside of the current global pandemic.
Create space for meetings. This means physically by ensuring you have sufficient time to attend the meeting. You will need time to ensure you are able to access the Zoom meeting OK if it’s online, or have time to travel to and from the office if it’s an in person meeting. It can be helpful to allow enough time to deal with an issue that might crop up such as traffic or a technical blip so you don’t feel stressed about accessing the meeting if an issue crops up unexpectedly.
It’s also important to allow yourself headspace for the meeting. If you come straight from a full on work meeting, or from having struggled to get a parking space at school are you going to be in the right frame of mind for the meeting? It may be fanciful to think you will have an hour either side of the meeting within which to meditate, breathe and clear your mind (but if you do have that time then try it and see what a difference it makes to a meeting – even 10 minutes can have an impact on how prepared you feel) but try to ensure you have a moment either side of the meeting to let go of other stresses and to focus on what you would like to talk about.
If you’re attending a meeting in person then you won’t have to worry about childcare (although as a side note be aware that mediators won’t allow children into the meeting unless they are a babe in arms). But ensure that you have allowed sufficient time for the meeting and a little bit extra in case there are more questions you need answered, or the mediator has run a little late. Having to run out to do the school run when you have unanswered questions is not going to benefit you getting to grips with a new process. If you’re mediating online and are at home with children then consider how you will do this. It’s important that children cannot overhear what is being said. If you have older children who can be left unsupervised for a period of time whilst you sit in another room, away from earshot, then this may be one way forward. If you have younger children then it may be worth asking the mediator if they can do an evening appointment once are your children are in bed. Perhaps you and your ex partner can each look after your children when the other is having their initial meetings but how might you manage joint meetings around children? There is no right answer to this and it is a challenge for many parents. If you’re not sure how to manage it then it can be useful to chat this through with your ex partner, or with the mediator to get some ideas.
Write down your questions
Part of an initial meeting with a mediator is getting and giving information and this can be a little overwhelming. Especially when you are managing a number of different emotions/demands on you. If you have questions you would like the mediator to address then write these down (or put them on your phone) and bring them with you. It can be useful to start making a note of any questions a week or two before your appointment so you capture them as you think of them.
Dealing with overwhelm
If you feel overwhelmed in the meeting then don’t be afraid to ask them mediator to give you a moment to just catch your breath. Mediators are very used to the fact that it is upsetting talking about these issues and will happily give you space to take a moment. It can also be useful if you ask the mediator to summarise key information by way of a leaflet or an email afterwards. Here at LKW Family Mediation we have a number of resources and handouts that we share after initial meetings so that clients have them to refer back to and remember important pieces of information.
It’s entirely normal to feel worried or anxious before a meeting with a mediator. Unless you have been divorced many times you are not going to be familiar with the process, terminology and things that you need to sort out. The mediator will be well aware of this and will move forward at a pace that works for you and clarify any information you need. Mediators are adept at tuning into people and will notice your nerves and to their best to put you at your ease and check if you’re OK.
All of these tips apply for all mediation meetings but often the initial meeting is the most nerve wracking one (or possibly the first joint meeting where you come with your ex partner for the first time). Do pay attention to what helps you feel more prepared for mediation meetings and what doesn’t so you can ensure you have the best arrangements in place for YOU to get the best use of out of mediation meetings for YOU.
If you’d like more information about mediation then please contact us. You can also sign up to our free mailing list, or access our free community of support via the closed Soulful Separation support Facebook group.