As the world opens after COVID-19 lockdowns, Australians still stuck in lockdown are starting to feel major impacts with tensions rising in homes across the country. One in four (25%) Australians describe 2020 as a difficult year for their family with a third (33%) of parents in a second lockdown having experienced increased tension and disconnection with their children.
Not seeing family or friends had the biggest impact on children (92%), followed by missing events important to them (80%). So how can we support our children during lockdown? Encouraging kids to take part in activities for the whole family can contribute to positive wellbeing, increased morale and optimism.
Chris Barnes is a clinical psychologist and says that the impact of COVID-19 and constant changes with snap lockdowns has had a severe effect on the mental health of all Australians.
“Understandably the instability and unpredictability of recent months has taken its toll. Before COVID-19 reached our shores, roughly 5 percent of Australians reported moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
“Research has found strict lockdowns have led to the highest levels of depression and anxiety on record, but where restrictions were eased people report lower, while still significant, levels of mental health problems,” said Barnes.
Now more than ever, it is crucial for parents to be displaying healthy ways of coping with these changes as the flow on effect for families and children.
“As a parent, being able to manage your emotions is an important part of wellbeing and showing children how you cope helps them learn what to do with their emotions. Children who learn these skills build resilience and develop a positive mindset and healthy coping strategies and can be encouraged to adopt the same techniques.
“Simple activities like offering encouragement, giving hugs, and taking regular breaks throughout the day can decrease cumulative stress at home and build stronger connections,” said Barnes.
With the selections on streaming services becoming repetitive and entertainment options dwindling, locked down families are in desperate need for innovative, resourceful, and fun ideas to reignite their children’s passion and families’ togetherness.
FREE fun from the Family Project
The Family Project is a government backed initiative, designed to help support the mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing of families through an inspirational and clinically supported daily family project. With activities free to everyone, people can adopt the ideas to bring their family together and connect.
“We have partnered with some fantastic people to create activities, we have TV personality Tom Williams showing children how to create a herb garden and magpie anti swoop device, Ryan McNaught better known as The Brickman encouraging friendly competition with Lego and even Belinda Russell sharing her Tik Tok dance moves.
“The Family Project is an initiative launched to support families through the ongoing lockdowns and restrictions to help build connection and resilience in their households. Despite the current times presenting many challenges, it is a chance to find the silver lining and create some truly magical memories and remember that everyone is in this together,” said Barnes.
An interactive and engaging website highlights the daily family project, providing advice with a video and fact sheet complemented by adedicated activity sheet. Family Project also offers families a plethora of ideas to create a schedule planner on a daily or weekly basis.
Family Project is a collaboration of perinatal mental health organisation, Gidget Foundation Australia, parenting organisation, Tresillian and content partner, Nine Network.
As Australia works towards an 80% vaccination rate to end lockdown, families are encouraged to complete activities by the Family Project to bring their family together and support their mental health.
Activities from Family Project
WELCOME TO SPOONVILLE
Let’s connect with our local community by getting involved in the latest curbside craze – spoonville!
Step 1: Get yourself some wooden spoons, any shape or size will do. Check out your cupboards for old picnic or partyware in case you have a wannabe Spoonie ready to go.
Step 2: Get out your craft box -texters, glue, paint, ribbons or stickers, anything will do! And decorate your Spoonie character.
Step 3: Start your own Spoonville and see who crops up, or join someone else’s you have found
- Only use wooden spoons as they are biodegradable
- Ensure your decorations are well stuck on so that nothing can blow away
- Never take a Spoonie from someone else’s Spoonville!
CREATE A HERB GARDEN
A herb garden is a great way for children to learn about the interdependence of plants, animals and people. By involving your child in establishing a herb garden, they learn about the life cycle of a plant and are more likely to try new foods they have grown.
Here’s how to get started!
Planting from seeds:
- Fill seed pots (can use an egg cartoon as an alternative) with soil and add seed. Place into a mini greenhouse / a sunny protected position and water regularly.
- When seedling have sprouted and are approximately 5-10cm transfer into garden beds. Seed pots are compostable so plant straight into prepared garden bed.
Planting from mini pots:
- Choose the types of herbs you would like in your kitchen garden.
- Don’t forget to tap your pot in its underside to loosen the plant when adding to your garden bed.
Setting up your garden bed.
- Select a garden bed that is low and easily accessible for your child. One on wheels is even better as you can move it to sunny / partly shady positions as the seasons change.
- Fill garden bed with soil. You can add your own soil from a compost bin if you have one or purchase soil.
- Create a small well / hole and carefully place plant into hole. Push soil around the plant to securely plant it in place.
- Water your plants in. if you have a worm farm add worm wee diluted with water to give your plants an organic fertiliser boost.
- Children can help trim herbs as required for cooking or for adding to meals.
For more information, go to www.familyproject.org.au
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