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Despite starting my studies 13 years ago to become a counsellor, being qualified for 8 of these years, working within a vast range of mental health-related issues, and going onto running my private practice… hitting week 8 of lockdown, I’m starting to struggle.
I’ll openly admit that I have had signs of both depression and anxiety trying to creep their way in, for why wouldn’t they?
This way of living is not normal and we, as humans, were not made for isolation.
This shit is hard, right?
So let us make it easier for our children.
WE ARE NOT DESIGNED FOR ISOLATION
IT’S OK NOT TO BE OK
Having my family at home together, all at once, I’ve adored. However, I’m still working and I have a lot of responsibility outside of my family unit alone. For me personally, feeling the pressure amount each week from all the various requirements suddenly forced upon me (I don’t actually know how long ago anymore) and acknowledging the fact that I have had a few initial symptoms of depression and anxiety symptoms overcome me, I had to do something about it, quickly. Almost immediately, I took time out to check in with myself, identifying why I was now starting to struggle and therefore, questioning what areas were having the most negative impact upon me, and therefore, my family. Once understanding these areas, I questioned what possible adaptions/changes I could make to help myself, my family, and the whole god damn related situation.
The outcome being, of which was causing me the greatest amount of stress/pressure, was that of my eldest child’s school workload, and the untold requirements within.
Having identified this factor, I sent an email stating my thoughts and feelings, truthfully, to their teacher, outlining what I felt would be a realistic possibility for us to meet, while ensuring my families wellbeings continued to remain my main priority. Having simply sent this email alone, I psychically felt a huge weight lifted, of which, lifted my spirits and has since, lifted my mentality and emotional availability and I now feel, once again, that I can enjoy the rest of this lockdown, (time-frame depending), with the people who mean the world to me and still working with clients via online platforms.
As parents, we are putting so much pressure upon ourselves to educate our children that I feel, while intentions meaning well, actual outcomes could, possibly, become detrimental towards their wellbeings.
The government/schools cannot bypass the academic educational criteria that our children are currently missing out while not attending school by relying on parents and/or caregivers teaching children ourselves. It is not visible or realistic for various reasons. Adaptions will have to be put into place concerning the Covid-19 situation and all children’s educational needs.
Fundamental life factors
Between the ages 0-7 years of age, a child’s brain takes in so much information that it develops rapidly, like no other years to come.
During this time, a vast majority of a child’s adulthood is created, mapped out within their unconsciousness. Attachments are made along with life long behaviours and personality traits.
With this being said, relationships with others, home environments, communication ability/skills, social situations, life experiences, and personal choices will always continue to adapt these key factors that sculpt their adult-self. Therefore, if you have children isolated at home with you at present, this time is invaluable for them, and possibly, for you and your relationship.
How you spend your Covid-19 lockdown is crucial to how your children will become able to cope with similar situations within their future-self.
We do not know when life will return to ‘normal’, and so now is the time to help them ‘learn’ how to handle such experiences for themselves. The reality is, that this current situation is something of which our children could possibly experience once again, either within a few months/years, or even way further down the line when possibly having their own family unit to care for as a priority. Whatever the possibility, wouldn’t it be more effective to teach them, yourself, now?
This is where we, as parents, can have a life-long positive impact upon our children today, and their ever-after.
As parents, we want the best for our children, right? But, what is right… for them today and their adult-self also?
Are you stressing yourself out with all the pressures suddenly thrown at you? I know I am now, 7 weeks in:
PE with Joe at 9:00 am
Maths (an experience within itself)
X 239 other schooling needs, as well as reporting in with teachers
Trying to cope with the finical strains
The worries of how you are to get through the day, the week, next week, next month…
Cooking/preparing 3 meals a day, plus the 165 snacks in-between
Dealing with emotions while you are carrying out every given life role and/or while also working
Tidying up between each homeschooling break, after you’ve prepared a meal but before the snack, while thinking about the next hour ahead and when the possibility of finding the time to have a quick loo break could be a possibility
Arguing with yourself if it’s socially allowed to have a glass of wine once midday has struck?… Just me?
‘What do my kids see me doing?’
‘Do they see me stressed, depressed, anxious, sad, mad…?’
‘What lessons will they be taking from this experience for themselves, and to pass onto their children of their own?’
‘Are these lessons they are currently learning, the right lessons for them to see right?’
‘How are my kids feeling?’
‘What would my kids like within this situation?’
‘How can I change the negatives?’
Lesson’s that children should be learning from this experience.
It’s a time to stop or at least slowdown, and to be present with loved ones
A time to have fun and to make everlasting memories
Being isolated does not have to result in being anxious, depressed, lonely, stressed, angry … etc
There are various ways to communicate with others while not able to be in actual physical contact
It’s a time to learn about yourself, and others
Isolation does not have to mean being lonely, or various other negative emotions
It’s a time, to give
If you can relate to any of the above, it may be time that you allow yourself to take a step back from all the pressures that have been nothing but forced upon you.
Yes, of course, our children’s academic learning is essential, but at what cost?
Is it right that social and academic pressures are to cost our children’s wellbeing, not only within their present but more so, their future? Promoting our children’s positive wellbeing today is essential to their future wellbeing as adults. Positive wellbeing as a child significantly reduces the statistics of any mental health-related issues possibly being developed. As a parent, being 30 different roles at once, something has to give;
You child’s wellbeing or parental pressures.
Despite not being able to see your loved ones face-to-face, it does not mean communication has to stop.
Be sure to promote to your children that there are various ways that you can all continue to communicate and connect with your loved ones.
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, caregiver, sibling, friend… anyone who cares for another of whom you are not able to see at present in person, and no matter where in the world you are, there are ways to interact.
Below, I have listed some examples of possible ways that you can help yourself, your children and/or your loved ones to continue, or start, some form of ‘normality.’
With these examples, you could create time which allows others to take certain pressures of yourself, ie help with schooling, time which allows you to self-care, or a time for you all to build Covid-19 everlasting memories.
The time rest spent, is only what you make of it.
- Making a routine, where possible, is a great way to feel connected
- Tell jokes
- Write a story for one another, involving each other
- Read a bedtime/story
- Play truth or dare
- Sing songs/nursery rhymes
- Share and reflect on past photos and share thoughts and feelings of these times. What did that particular time mean for you both?
- Have lunch together and a general chit chat
- Help with schoolwork
- Hold a ‘talent show
- Movie night
- Cook together
- Pull faces and guess the emotion
- Share individual thoughts and feelings on how the lockdown is affecting you
- Share what you miss about one another
- Share facts about one another ‘Did you know…’
- Draw pictures
- Talk about what you would like to do together when time allows possible
- Practice Mindfulness e.g, together, set a location and both close your eyes and discuss what things you can see, hear, smell etc.
- Hold an interview (can be very entertaining, I must say!)
- Ask ‘How well do you know me’ questions
- Quiz night
- Play charades
- Build lego
- Create a homemade sports day
- Arts and crafts
- Build things out of cardboard: Boats, castles,
- Build things out of recyclables
- Pamper night
- Share and create an ideal world where you would like to live
- What 5 things would you take to a desert island?
- Talk about ways how the world could be made better
- Share experiences that have made you feel certain emotions; Anger, sadness, frustration, fear, happiness, joy…
- Share things that you are both good at, and areas that need work on.
- Words that best describe you
- Share ways that you find coping skills
- Encourage empathy; ‘How might you feel if…’
- Encourage making quick reactions; ‘How would you react if…’
- Talk about mistakes you have made. How did you learn from these?
- Simon (or your name), says…
- Can you find me something…… alter this as you like. For example, using colours or letters of the alphabet
- Online games
- Board games
What am I explaining…..
If a person close to you/your child has reduced contact due to their lack of knowledge when using technology, let us face facts (from the child’s perspective), so what?
The only fact that will stand out for any child, no matter what age, is the fact that a person is trying.
The fact that THEY are there at least trying to connect with THEM… being PRESENT.
THEY are giving THEMthe attention that THEY DESIRE.