By Laura Geary
LOCKDOWN!!! I don’t know about you but with 2 children and a husband now all at home my mental health seems to creep up to a level that I don’t often see.
Days can be long, my children miss their teachers, the routine, school life!!
Given that many children will now be perhaps starting to struggle or are learning to adapt to a new life at home their mental health may begin to be affected.
It’s a given that children’s mental health is developed from a young age. It’s important to remember that bonds between mother and baby start when the baby is still in the womb, an unbreakable bond that teaches a child that they are loved, valued and wanted. This bond continues when a baby is born. Making eye contact, giving a hug and praise are all ways that we see parents engaging with their young children. Despite this, there are many children who are struggling with managing their own mental health.
I must admit, the future did look a little daunting. All of a sudden I was responsible not only for my children’s education but for their care and development, for ensuring they’re mentally healthy happy individuals, for ensuring they are compassionate and caring and making sure they are not frightened by everything that is going on around them.
This said, I was also overwhelmed with the sense of opportunity and gratitude. I have the opportunity to spend the days with my children that I wouldn’t normally have. I have the chance to be that role model and show them that ‘WE GOT THIS’, that we are strong and we will look after each other.
I wanted us as a family to connect. I didn’t want to show any kind of panic or worry around the epidemic situation, I just felt an overwhelming sense for the need to protect and nurture my loved ones.
When googling, I found there was an array of self-help books and videos, plenty of videos on breathing and mindfulness but there seemed to be a lack of actual resources. Perhaps it’s the teacher in me but I like something concrete, something I can look at, digest and do, and this is when that spark started!!
As a team we started to discuss how perhaps some kind of diary would be beneficial. I had already discussed with my daughter that writing things down and keeping a diary is a great way to be mindful and to look after ourselves, so a diary linked to the current situation seemed like a perfect place to begin. It didn’t take us long to put something together that began to resemble a resource tool that children and young people (and adults for that matter because let’s not forget we need to be checking in and looking after our own mental health too!) could use.
Children, despite what we think are extremely adaptable, but we still need to be giving them the tools to handle stressful moments.
Using our in depth knowledge of child development, mental health and mindfulness we produced the ‘Family Well-being diary’.
In order to strengthen social bonds and ensure that it was accessible to all we decided that this resource would be free to parents (and schools/services) that needed it by allowing it to be downloaded for free from www.thewellbeeings.com.
Our children often don’t have the breadth of vocabulary they sometimes need to communicate their feelings so this workbook gives them the opportunity to draw,write, TALK and of course reflect, therefore becoming more aware of their feelings and emotions.
Our diary has activities that encourage children to think about themselves as individuals, as part of a family and as part of the wider community. It provides an opportunity to develop empathy and compassion, learn breathing techniques but most importantly it teaches them that they are resilient, special and absolutely AMAZING little people!