Fun relaxation games for families

There may be a lot of stress around at the moment – for parents and for children. Here Josephine Meehan from Springboard Family Support Project shares some fun relaxation games for families which can help us to unwind. This article is part of the “Parenting through Covid 19 – helpful hints to keep home life happy” which was produced by the staff of Springboard Family Support Project and Finn Valley Family Resource Centre.

When some people think of mindfulness they conjure up images of Buddhist monks sitting alone on a mountain chanting! However as a parent I have found mindful practices a valuable resource for my self-care toolbox. It is a great gift to instill in children which they can use in lots of different situations they may have to face in the future. It really is just about paying attention to the present moment. The best way to teach a child to be mindful is to practice mindfulness yourself. It is not always easy to stay calm and mindful, believe me I know!

Here is a simple technique for parents or caregivers who find themselves upset and out of touch with the present moment.

  • Stop. Just take a momentary pause, no matter what you’re doing.
  • Take a breath. Feel the sensation of your own breathing, which brings you back to the present moment.
  • Observe. Acknowledge what is happening, the good or bad, inside you or in the environment. Just note it.
  • Proceed. Having briefly checked in with the present moment, continue with whatever it was you were doing.

There are lots of mindfulness videos, music and helpful resources and techniques available free online, but just remember not to get too bogged down in the science of it or whether you are doing it right or not. Mindfulness for children should be fun and help us as parents/carers to explore, reflect and learn about ourselves and our children. We are all on a learning journey.

Here are a few simple exercises that will encourage relaxation in a playful and
interactive way for parents and children.

Pretend you have a nice smelling flower in one hand and a slow burning candle in the other. Breathe in slowly through your nose as you smell the flower. Breathe out slowly through your mouth as you blow out the candle. Repeat a few times.

 

Imagine you can reach up to the tree and pick a lemon with each hand. Pretend you have a lemon in each hand. Squeeze the lemons hard to get all the juice out – squeeze, squeeze and squeeze. Throw the lemons on the floor and relax your hands. Then repeat, until you have enough juice for a glass of lemonade! After your last squeeze and throw, shake out your hands to relax.

Pretend you are a lazy cat that just woke up from a lovely, long nap. Have a big yawn and a meow. Now stretch out your arms, legs and back slowly like a cat and relax.

 

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Pretend you are a feather floating through the air for ten seconds. Suddenly you freeze and transform into a statue. Don’t move! Then slowly relax as you
transform back into the floating feather again. Repeat as many times as you like making sure to finish as a floating feather in a relaxed state.

 

Pretend you are a turtle going for a slow, relaxed turtle walk. Oh no, it’s started to rain! Curl up tight under your shell for about ten seconds. The sun’s out again, so come out of your shell and return to your relaxing walk. Repeat a few times, making sure to finish with a walk so that your body is relaxed.

Our thanks to Josephine Meehan Family Support Worker, Springboard for these great ideas. You can find more helpful hints to keep home life happy here

https://www.cypsc.ie/_fileupload/Documents/Resources/Donegal/FVFRC%20-%20Parenting%20through%20Covid%2019%20Booklet%202.pdf

 

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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