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Since the lockdown was announced, there’s been much talk about how to look after our mental health – whether you’re living alone and going stir crazy, or living with children and going, well, stir crazy! But what about children? They tend to adjust better to change than stuck-in-their-ways old adults, but this is a big change for children too. They aren’t seeing their friends, they too are stuck in the same surroundings and their parents (might) be acting a little strange. Here are our tips for looking after your child’s mental health:
Keep a loose routine
When the commute suddenly consists of tramping to the spare room instead of the station, it’s hard to find the urgency to get children dressed and fed by 8am. But having set time throughout the day for certain activities is good for mental health. Whether it’s meals, exercise, a creative hour, or even TV time, any points of consistency will help keep your child’s expectations met.
Sleep is key
This is obvious – but when they haven’t been in school for hours; when tomorrow promises more of exactly the same, sleep might not come so naturally. It can help to make it an occasion and perhaps have a fun wind-down routine – whether that’s story-time and hot milk or choosing what activity is on the agenda tomorrow so that they are motivated to sleep.
Screen test – use tech wisely
TV or iPad time can be a complete life saver but ensuring they take regular screen breaks will increase focus for other tasks and improve moods. Use tech to instigate a virtual play date and keep those important friendships going ‘face-to-face’. ShowKids is offering its drama workshops online and it’s been lovely to see children interact from afar. There are loads of educational games and programmes out there, as well as fun distractions. As long as all the fun stuff isn’t on a screen, it’s all good!
Use Mother Nature
Nature is so beneficial and studies show that being in green spaces is calming for adults and kids alike. Get outside as much as you can and encourage children to really look at what’s there and appreciate it. You can incorporate fun activities like playing Pooh Sticks, looking for as many different coloured flowers as you can, listening out for different bird sounds or using a pencil to transfer the pattern of a tree’s bark onto paper.
They like to move it, move it
Physical exercise releases happy-boosting endorphins and aids sleep. There’s so many free fitness videos online, including Joe Wickes’ P.E sessions, of course! Mixing it up keeps children interested and makes it feel less like a chore. Whether its egg and spoon races or badminton in the garden, hula hooping or a game of Twister indoors, or walks and bike rides outside – all exercise is beneficial.
Don’t worry if you can’t do their maths homework yourself. There are so many ways to learn and the most important thing is that children stay curious. Even activities like cooking can help them test their maths skills as they work out how to measure ingredients. Let them dip into atlases and encyclopedias and choose a place or subject they want to learn about. Board games can be great tests of skills like strategy and observation. And having ongoing projects helps, like growing vegetables or building a model.
Whatever you do, your children and you will look back at this time fondly – so know you’re doing an amazing job and enjoy the precious time while you have it.