A contribution post by Kenneth Yu
With whispers of a second wave of the corona virus in the grapevine, my family’s happiness is on my mind. The first lockdown was difficult for everyone. While most of the focus was on the adults who may lose their jobs and find themselves unable to pay their bills. The littles ones’ plight was lost in the noise.
Our aim as parents is always to shield the children of everything that we possibly can. This means that we do not want them to be stressed by some of the things that would stress us. The loss of a job or bills piling up, to name a few. Having said that, we often forget that they are perceptive. These littles ones are not idiots. They may not know what is wrong, but they are affected by the levels of stress that we are going through.
With all of this in mind, I have been looking for ways that I could make sure that my family would be happy during these uncertain times.
1. Keep Them Connected
Our children are used to being able to visit their friend. They are part of sports teams and clubs. It is stressful for them to no longer be able to maintain these relationships.
As a remedy, one of the ideas that came to mind was setting up regular calls with their friends on Skype, Zoom or Google Meet. This gives them the ability to see each other and engage in whatever conversations they can.
The key to this is regularity. Setting a weekly time that they both come online for a chat would be the best way. This allows both sets of parents to plan their days with this in mind. It gives the child something to look forward to.
It isn’t only their friends that they will miss. My children have a great relationship with their grandparents. They don’t see each other frequently, but that is always an option. These calming voices should be maintained. A fortnightly call or a monthly one would suffice. It also makes a difference to their grandparents as well.
2. The Little Things that Matter
The most difficult thing about lockdown for me is the uncertainty that it breeds. At such times, it is the little things that will go a long way. Think about each family member’s guilty pleasures. My husband loves board games. We make an effort especially during a lockdown to ensure that we have one scheduled every week. I enjoy a good thriller. My family sits through it with me each week. They are starting to get into it.
The kids are into sports. We watch sports documentaries with them, play small versions of various sports in the garden as well. It may not seem like much, but it is a little reminder to each one of us that we matter, that the family adores us.
3. Stay Active
There is a plethora of evidence to support the effect of exercise on mental health. Some of the key quotes attest to this. “Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression.” – Exercise for Mental Health
“The benefits are significant especially in subjects with an elevated level of anxiety and depression because of more room for possible change.” – [Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood].
“Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people.” – Health Direct Australia
“In fact, increasingly robust evidence suggests that exercise is not only necessary for the maintenance of good mental health, but it can be used to treat even chronic mental illness.” – Psychology Today
These are just a handful of sources out of a body of evidence that is consistently growing. Find exercises that you can do together as a family. You will be surprised to find how well this does at strengthening your bonds. It is also a great way to keep the parents motivated. You are not going to want to be outdone by your babies.
4. Eat Better
One of the main causes of stress and depression today is the food that we consume. The old adage rings true, “If you eat good, you feel good.”
Make an effort to have a balanced diet. Get a lot of fruit and vegetables into your meals, and as snacks throughout the day. I have often found that buying a water bottle for everyone works a treat to get us all drinking more water.
We refill all the bottles at the start of the day and at midday. The aim is to get through at least a litre a day. I will say that this is not always an easy task, especially for the younger ones. You can give them smaller bottles or not refill theirs at midday.
5. Sleep Better
With good exercise and a diet to match, sleeping will come easier. It is important that you maintain a routine. Children are used to having one. Don’t let the day go into freefall. Wake up at about the same time, and go to sleep at about the same time. You can fit in a nightly routine for the family. It can be a quick game before you wander off to sleep.
The one thing that you want to minimise close to bedtime is screen time. Being exposed to such light makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Get some good pillows for the children, as well as for yourselves. As mentioned earlier. It is these small things that go a heck of a long way.
The last tip that we couldn’t fit onto our list is to keep a journal. You will be surprised at how much may go unnoticed and in turn not be dealt with when we don’t write it down. Keep track of everything that is going on around you. Make note of your stressful and anxious moments every day. Here is to your happiness!
This is a contribution post by guest writer, Kenneth Yu.