Parenting in a Pandemic: Support for your Mental Wellbeing in Lockdown 3.0
Sponsored Editorial by the Public Health Children and Families Team, Leeds
The job of being a parent can be tough at the best of times. But over the past few months, our resilience as parents has been tested in every way. So many of the things that usually make life feel do-able – from time with grandparents, to family days out, even the school run – are restricted or impossible.
When the things that usually help us cope are out of reach, it’s especially important to remember our own mental wellbeing. By looking after ourselves, we’re better able to look after those we care about most.
But with children at home all the time, it can feel particularly challenging to take time out for yourself. Home life can be so chaotic, with the demands of home learning, the whole family cooped up in a small space, lots of squabbling and tears. You might have too much work, or be worried about not working.
It’s completely normal to be worried, overwhelmed or helpless during these difficult times, and feeling this way is nothing to be ashamed of.
The good news is, there’s plenty of support out there. MindWell, a Leeds-based mental health information hub, is a good place to start. There’s lots of ideas for self-care, with videos and resources sharing relaxation techniques, tips for good sleep, and ideas for staying well while working from home. If you need more support, there’s also a section on finding help during the coronavirus outbreak, whether that’s for bereavement, crisis support, mental health support, domestic violence or self-harm.
If you need someone to talk to about the tough job of being a parent in a pandemic, the charity Action for Children has created Parent Talk, which features down-to-earth parenting advice and offers a 1:1 chat service (online or by phone). If your child is disabled or has additional needs, Contact (a charity for families with disabled children) offers a daytime helpline – 0808 808 3555, a listening ear service, with longer appointments for a proper discussion, and a website with links to local support groups. Locally, there is also a Facebook group for children with special educational needs and their families.
Many of us are also worried about our children’s wellbeing. It can feel especially overwhelming, when we’re feeling low and stressed ourselves, to support our children if they’re anxious about home learning or are just really missing their friends and normal routine.
If your children are feeling the stress of the pandemic, it’s helpful to offer lots of reassurance, cuddles, love, and opportunities to play. While home learning is important, it’s also good to focus on your family relationships and spend time doing things you all enjoy, even if that’s just cuddling up on the sofa to watch a film together. Child psychologist Joanna Fortune offers great (guilt-free) parenting tips along these lines in this article.
Tears and meltdowns can be a regular feature of family life even in normal times – but if this kind of behaviour has increased recently, there’s a list of signs that something is wrong on Every Mind Matters, and lots of information on the Young Minds website. If you’d like support to help your child, call the Young Minds Parents’ daytime helpline (0808 802 5544), or find out about services in Leeds on the MindMate website. MindMate also features lots of podcasts made by young people from Leeds on topics including the challenges of lockdown and managing social media.
For general wellbeing information to support you and your family to stay healthy at home, check out this leaflet on the Child Friendly Leeds website.