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Online Family Mediation: Preparation and Good Spaces for Successful Mediation Sessions

(And how you can use the Redwood Mediation Services, LLC Website to help)

We worry about things that we don't know how to do or when we don't know what to expect. But, worrying about an impending event provides very little advantage. If that event is your upcoming online family mediation, there are several ways in which you can prepare for a productive session. Here, we’ll suggest steps you can take toward making your online mediation experience a successful one ... so you can let go of some of the worry.

Invest time to complete paperwork. An experienced mediator will give you paperwork to fill out prior to your online family mediation session. Start right away! You’ll need plenty of time to gather information and fill out the form as accurately as possible. Don’t rely on the other party to fill out the papers. The mediator should understand the circumstances of both parties in order to mediate efficientlyso your perspective is important. And although filling out this paperwork properly may require you to include financial and other information that you may not be in the habit of sharing, it is important. If you are concerned about disclosing your information during the mediation process, reach out to your mediator prior to your session.

Make a practical plan for the hours before, during and after your mediation session. Decide on a place to work. While there are no rules about where you must be to participate in online mediation, some situations are not ideal. Find a quiet comfortable space where you will not be interrupted. If you find yourself better able to focus while pacing or knitting, go for it. Having these options is yet another perk of online family mediation. However, some activities such as driving, exercising intensely or outdoor pursuits are not a good fit because they increase the likelihood of distraction, spotty WIFI, and loud background noises.

Make arrangements for the children. While we are touching on the importance of preparing to focus during your online family mediation session, let us mention children. We recommend that you make appropriate arrangements for your children, keeping in mind their ages and particular routines and needs. This is a great time to schedule a visit to Grandma and Grandpa or to a friend, or have a baby-sitter come over to occupy and care for them. Taking children out of your online family mediation session will also serve to protect your children from hearing sentiments or facts about your circumstances that are not meant for their ears. Children are often much more astute than we give them credit for — and they worry too. Planning childcare ahead of your online family mediation is an important part of a successful session.

Check your WIFI and Practice. If your WIFI tends to be stronger and more reliable in one area than another, you’ll want to select your workspace accordingly. You might schedule a practice video session with a friend as well. Not only will you be able to test your WIFI, but you can practice with the meeting platform you’ll be using. At Redwood Mediation & Law, we’ll use Zoom for video conferencing. Since so many have gained Zoom experience during the last year with online school or meetings, we find that this platform works well for most of our clients. You can download the Zoom App and create your own practice meeting for free. If this seems overwhelming, check out our Zoom tutorial on the Redwood Mediation Website. ZOOM: HOW TO | redwoodmediation.

Take a moment; take a breath; find the right frame of mind. While you are setting up your space, grab a pen and notepad and pour a glass of water. You’ll want to be as clear-headed as possible, so save any alcohol for another time. If you have the luxury of putting your phone in “do not disturb” mode, you’ll be able to avoid unexpected calls while you are paying for mediation services.

Mediation sessions aren’t like a competition you need to get pumped up for in order to “win.” Still, you will need to carve out time in order to reach your goals successfully. Scheduling your online family mediation session back-to-back with other commitments may mean that you do not have a moment to center yourself. Do yourself a favor and schedule a transition time before your mediation session to put away other work, concerns and activities and focus on your online family mediation session.

Resist scheduling events and commitments in the time immediately following the scheduled mediation time too. People vary when it comes to how seriously they value punctuality and strict schedules. At Redwood Mediation, we’ll do all we can to keep the sessions on track. As with everything in life though, there may be unexpected circumstances. If a party loses power or WIFI, it isn’t the end of the world. We’ll make adjustments. Still, making these adjustments is much easier and far less stressful if you haven’t agreed to attend an important business meeting or pick up your children the minute the online family mediation session ends. We recommend that you schedule some buffer time before and after our scheduled time.

Embrace forward thinking. Completing paperwork from your mediator will certainly help you focus on the realities of your past. Now, think about where you would like to be and what you would like to accomplish in the future. If you have children, this may be as simple as thinking about how you would like them to experience their childhood days and what kind of parent you would like to be for them. You probably spend a good deal of your days thinking about what they need and want in the present moment. For your family mediation session, focus on what you want for them in the years to come. Challenge yourself to think beyond the material needs, to important intangibles like calm, safe spaces, peaceful interactions with family members, and the feeling of security that comes from knowing that it will be OK to continue child-parent relationships. Whether in person or online, our clients who are focused what they want for their children are the ones who are the most content with their outcomes. When they give something up for themselves, they often see it as a benefit to the children.

A good tip for you: Place a favorite photo of your favorite people in your meeting space. Find that great shot of your children giggling or building a sandcastle or on a campout and place it where it can remind you of the important role you play for them.

Otherwise, what do you want to experience in your future? It is easy to dwell on the weight of increased responsibilities that family transition can impose. Picture yourself in your new life. If you have a dream, contemplate how you will achieve it. Perhaps you have always wanted to finish your degree or travel. A photo of you with your friends, or one that reminds you of a goal can help you to focus on what really matters to you.

Now that you’ve … gathered the paperwork, chosen a workspace, scheduled your day, done a practice meeting, made arrangements for the children, and taken a moment to breathe and zero in on what is important, plan a treat for after your online mediation session. A phone call to a friend or a fun outing — either can be a nice way to reward yourself. After all the work you’ve done to prepare, you’ll deserve it!

Family transitions can be difficult and worrisome. Investing time to plan and organize before your family mediation session can help. At Redwood Mediation & Law, we think it is important to help you prepare for the online family mediation process as you contemplate the next chapter of your life.

We are passionate about helping families through family mediation, and we like to blog about it too. We invite you to peruse our website: Mediation Service | Sioux Falls, SD | Redwood Mediation Services, LLC to find our other blog posts, like this one: Online Mediation: Flexibility, Time, Comfort & Inclusivity: Online Family Mediation is a Great Option (

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