Even though the country is gradually opening up again we are still living lives which feel different and strange. With school work to do for primary school kids, the challenge of working from home and trying to keep children and young people occupied while still maintaining social distancing and keeping contact to small groups life can be stressful. Here are some good tips from the gov.ie Parent Centre website https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/parents-centre/ about dealing with anger and how to keep home life more calm. Just click on the posters for a better view.
Looking after our family wellbeing is a priority at this time. Here is some good advice from John Sharry, one of the founders of the Parents Plus parenting programmes.
Maintaining family wellbeing during the Covid-19 lockdown
Prof John Sharry, Parents Plus
With colleges, schools and childcare centres closed in most areas, the Covid-19 crises has instantly changed the lives of most families worldwide. Pushed tightly back into our family units without much outside contact, relationships have been put under pressure. Stressed parents struggle to balance working and caring for children all day and bored children have to manage without normal social contacts and school routines. Not surprisingly there has been a big increase in family and relationship stress and child behaviour problems. Below are some tips for managing family relationships through this crisis
- Manage your own stress
- Attending to adult relationships in the family
- Talking to children about their worries
- Structuring the day/ Creating a family routine
1) Manage your own level of stress
First put on your own oxygen mask before you attend to your children
As a parent, the most important thing you can do for your own children is to first manage your own level of stress. The more you are coping and feeling positive the better you will be able to attend to and care for your children. Children need cared for parents who can care for them. The first step in helping your children and reducing family stress is take steps to ensure you are coping first. This is good for you, your children, your partner and the other adults in your family Learning to manage stress and to cope effectively are covered throughout this module (LINK to SECTIONS)
2) Attending to adult relationships in the family
Stress can have a negative impact on your personal relationships with your partner and the other adults in your family. When affected by worry or depression or stress, we can become much more irritable with those close to us or we can cut off and become unavailable. Being pushed together in family isolation can aggravate tensions and difficulties. If you are a separated parent you can have the added stress of negotiating with a parent outside your home or if you are a lone parent you could feel more isolated if you are cut off from your usual supportive adult relationships outside the home.
Take time to understand
Take time to understand what is going on between you and your partner or other adults in your family. Expect that relationships might be strained and that you and others may become irritable and upset at times. Remember that with a bit of thoughtful understanding, stress does not have to drive you apart but instead can bring you together and deepen your understanding of each other. Rather than fighting each other over the crises, recognise that you are in this together and work at finding solutions.
The most important communication skill is listening. Listening is the best way to stay connected with a close family member and a crucial first step to resolving conflict. When your partner is upset take time to first understand what is going on from their perspective. If they get snappy, rather than reacting try to pause and listen first. Give space and time for them to express their feelings and thoughts – ‘you sound upset, what is bothering you at the moment…tell me what is the matter’. This can take the sting out of stress and upset. Whether you are parenting in the same home or as a separated couple, taking time to understand the other parent’s feelings and what is important to them is crucial to getting on better and reaching agreements.
Equally important is to communicate your own feelings and thoughts. Rather than being angry or passive aggressive, the goal is to find an assertive respectful way to communicate your feelings and state what you need. Using ‘I’ statements is often a good way to do this ‘ I feel this when this happens’ or ‘I really need this to happen’ or ‘this is important to me’. Find your way of assertively and respectfully communicating that gets through to the other person.
Rather than just winning the argument or getting what you want, you need to find ways that you both get what you want. This is the only way to maintain and good relationships. The ideal is to find ‘win-win’ solutions that work for everyone. And when this is not possible the goal is to make an agreement where burdens are shared and you both get something of what you want. Making and keeping agreements is the key to building trust in relationships.
3) Talking to children and teenagers about their worries
Just as parents are understandably alarmed and worried about current crises so are their children and teenagers. Rather than avoiding difficult conversations it isbetter to be proactive and to plan how and what you might talk to them.
Use child-centred language for young children
In talking to young children it is important to take time to explain the message using concrete child-centred language that they understand. For example, to explain why your 4 year old can’t visit Nana during the crisis you might say ‘There is a virus, called Covid19, that makes old people very sick. Children can carry Covid19 but not know they have it. So we can’t visit Nana in case we give her the virus. The good news is that we can talk to her and see her on the phone. She misses you very much and loves when you show her pictures or when you read your books together over the phone at bedtime’
The key is to show children how they are helping others by their actions. You are showing how your daughter can protect Nana and also be kind to her by keeping in touch.
You can also use pictures or drawings to your children to explain how the virus spreads and importance of washing hands and social distancing. There are many children’s picture books just published online to explain all about the virus that you might be able to read together
Use adult explanations for teenagers
As your children become older and your explanations need to be more adult and scientific. Teenagers appreciate being taken seriously and being treated like adults on the same level as their parents. Be proactive and find ways to raise the issues with your older children. It is always better that your children are talking to their parents rather than relying on unreliable sources such as social media or peers. A useful strategy might be to watch the news together and to then debate and think through the issues with them. Alternatively, you can review some reliable health information on Internet together which looks at all the facts and the protective actions you can take – this might be a good way to calmly go through the facts and to help you both think how best to respond.
Make sure to listen carefully when your children raise worries and questions. If your teenage daughter talks of exaggerated facts, respond calmly and ask her ‘ where did she hear that from?’ If your son worries about who might die due to the coronavirus, give him space to express his thoughts and feelings – listen to his underlying worries. While you can reassure him that so far no young children have died, this may make him worried that older people ( such as his parents) may be at risk. Acknowledging this worries and putting them in context of reliable information is the best approach. You want to encourage your children to talk to you and to keep communication open. You want to give them the message that you can handle their feelings and worries
Use a positive tone
Parents are often worried that difficult facts might scare children. In reality, it is how things are explained rather than the facts that scare children the most. Vague inconsistent and confusing answers from anxious parents make for anxious children. When you are talking to your children, think through what you want to say so you can be calm and clear about what is going in they have to do.
Explore positive actions
Empower your children and yourself by focusing on reasonable actions that you can take to keep them safe. This can include agreeing good hand washing routines and new ways of greeting people outside the home ( e.g. waving instead of hand shaking). If you have to stay at home for a period, involve them in preparing a list of what food you will need and what fun activities you can do at home. Remember taking safety actions does not have to be a morbid serious affair. You can make of game of learning how to wash hands properly seeing who can follow video instructions the best. Also, there are lots of funny videos online that describe new ways of greeting or keeping safe distances when shopping.
4) Structuring the day/ creating a family routine
Each family now has to adjust to new pressured circumstances of trying to study, work confined in the same household without the usual organised social activities outside the home. Learning the structure the day and creating a new family routine is a way to make this more manageable.
Build the day around mealtimes
Build your daily routine around family mealtimes. One silver lining in the crisis is the opportunity for families to have more healthy home cooked meals. Involve children as much as possible ( according to their ages) in planning, preparing, cooking and cleaning up after meals. The more tasks are shared, the more family bonding and shared pride there will be. With older children you can set up a weekly schedule for meals, alternating who is cooking/ washing up and ensuring everyone gets their favourite meal included
Set aside parent work times
Set aside spaces in the day when you can do your own thing while the children are doing their own thing ( eg homework or play). This might facilitate you doing work projects or leisure time. If your children are very young and don’t easily give you space, then you might alternate child minding with your partner throughout the day. If you are parenting alone, then this time might occur when the children are watching TV, napping or asleep in the evening o.
Through the course of the day, the goal is to alternate between time together and time apart. Creating individual space and time, while in the same house with others is the key to survival
Plan some play times
Rather than responding to your children’s request to play throughout the day, try to set aside couple of fun play times in the day when you can give them your full attention. This might be doing a craft together, or a family game in the evening or watching a family TV show or doing a video call to granny together. Set one or two interesting goals each week that you can look forward to, whether this is trying a new game, learning something, doing an online quiz with extended family and friends.
Relax about homework
Rather becoming obsessed with ‘home-schooling’ your children which can lead to increased pressure and battles, it is important to relax about homework. While you might punctuate the day with one or two learning periods the when screens are turned off, it is better to set small achievable learning goals that the children are largely in charge of. Work closely with te school teacher and avail of what online school supports might be available.
Avoid being in the role of a strict teacher. Remember young children learn most form you during fun and relaxed activities whether this is baking or cooking, spotting nature during a walk, playing quizzes, sowing seeds in the garden or doing a craft together. Find something your children enjoy and make this the basis of home learning. Many schools will provide support on these creative learning opportunities.
Help children plan their activities
Help you children create their own routine and to alternate their activities throughout the day For example, in a given day they might alternate between 1) screen time by themselves 2) doing a play activity 3) reading a book 3) watch a TV programme with family 4) Playing in garden 5) playing music 6) doing a craft 7) going for family walk etc.
The key is to strike a balance between screens and other activities as well as time alone and time with the family.
Take the pressure off
Being cooped up in the same house already brings a lot of pressure. Reduce your expectations and don’t expect to be a super parent doing everything. Have a gentle start to day, set one or two goals, let your children watch a bit more TV, and focus on enjoyment and relaxation as much as you can.
See original article published on solutiontalk.ie
Every family needs routines. They help to organise life and keep it from becoming too chaotic. Children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent. Routines let children know what’s important to their family. Highly meaningful routines are sometimes called rituals. These can help strengthen their shared beliefs and values, and build a sense of belonging and cohesion in families.
One of a family’s greatest challenges is to establish comfortable, effective routines, which should achieve a happy compromise between the disorder, and confusion that can occur without them and the rigidity and boredom that can come with too much structure and regimentation, where children are given no choice and little flexibility.
Routines are important because:
- They give structure to the day
- The set the body clock, making a difference between day and night
- Routines encourage healthy habits such as regular mealtimes and regular sleeping patterns
- Children feel safe and secure when they have a routine as they get to know what will happen each day
- Routines help a parent to feel they are doing a good job and being organised reduces stress
- Routines can strengthen the parent/child relationship when time is spent together each day at playtime and story-time
- As children get used to following a routine themselves, the parent needs to give fewer instructions.
Parent should review the routines in their household to ensure that these routines accomplish what the parent wants.
Why routines are good for children
- An organised and predictable home environment helps children and young people feel safe and secure.
- They can be a way of teaching younger children healthy habits, like brushing their teeth, getting some exercise, or washing their hands after using the toilet.
- Routines built around fun or spending time together strengthen relationships between parents and children. Reading a story together before bed or going for a special snack after an event can become a special time for you and your children to share.
- Daily routines help set our body clocks. For example, bedtime routines help children’s bodies ‘know’ when it’s time to sleep. This can be particularly helpful when children reach adolescence and their body clocks start to change.
- If your child needs to take medicine regularly, a routine for this will help make both of you less likely to forget.
- Having an important job to do in the family routine helps older children and teenagers develop a sense of responsibility.
- Routines help develop basic work skills and time management.
- Routines can help promote a feeling of safety in stressful situations or during difficult stages of development, such as puberty.
- When children reach adolescence, the familiarity of regular home routines can help them feel looked after. Predictable family routines can be a welcome relief from the changes they’re experiencing.
- Routines for children with disabilities can be a big help. They can be even more important for children who find it hard to understand or cope with change.
Why routines are good for parents
- When things are hectic, routines can help you feel more organised, which lowers stress.
- A routine will help you complete your daily tasks efficiently.
- As children get better at following a routine by themselves, you can give fewer instructions.
- Routines free you from having to constantly resolve disputes and make decisions. If a book is read every night before sleep, no-one needs to look to do other activities
Older children might grow out of, or challenge some routines. Being flexible and adapting routines as your child gets older can help with this issue.
Routines can help establish trust and build resilience
Settling into a routine not only makes things easier for a parent it also is teaching a baby about trust and building a resilient child. Throughout each day a sequence of events is repeated. Baby wakes and cries. Parent comes and baby is fed. After milk comes bath; after bath, quiet time; then nappy is changed and it is time for sleep.
With repetition, a pattern is formed in a child’s mind: there are things a baby can expect, things he knows will happen next. As events are repeated, a child understands they will happen again. When a baby can trust that what has happened in the past will happen again, he also becomes able to wait.
Routine is the beginning of other kinds of trust too; trust in people that they can be relied upon to do for him what needs to be done, and trust in himself, that he can express what it is he needs from other people. A routine that suits both a baby’s needs and a parent’s needs promotes trust.
Here are some suggestions for gently settling an infant into a good daytime—night time routine:
- Make sure that your baby receives enough food during the day
This may mean a parent spending a little more time with each daytime feed. When a child has finished feeding, let him rest for a while and then try feeding him again but do not force him. If a baby is getting enough food for his age and weight (which can be checked with the Public Health Nurse/Health Visitor), then if he wakes during the night there are probably other causes.
- Keep baby in the same room as other members of the family in the evening.
If a baby is left in a cot in his bedroom during the day, it is not surprising that he will sleep all day with little to stimulate his interest. If he is in the same room as other members of the family he will enjoy listening to the sounds of voices and will explore the world around him. By the time night comes he will be ready for a good long rest.
Making a Routine Happen
The day starts with everyone getting up and getting dressed. Dressing a baby is a parent’s job but a toddler will be able to do some of the simpler dressing tasks herself, such as putting on a hat or socks. Children learn to be independent and self-sufficient by doing things for themselves. This is a gradual process and a child needs a parents help to learn. As time goes on, a toddler may be able to do more and more and parents should be alert to opportunities to help this process along. It may take longer, but it will be time well spent.
Play is how young children learn and it is important that playtime is part of a child’s daily routine. Playtime should be fun for both parent and child, and is a good time to talk with a young child. As a child progresses from solitary play to co-operative play, these types of activities have an important role in a child’s development.
Mealtimes teach a child how to develop a healthy lifestyle and have numerous social benefits like language development. It also gives the family a time to check in with one another.
- Make mealtimes a pleasant time for the whole family to enjoy being together
- Children should be provided with well-balanced, nutritious meals
- For young children breakfast is an important meal, they need a good breakfast to give them energy for the day’s activities.
- Children enjoy feeling they are helping. A child should be encouraged to ‘help’ set the table from a young age, for example, 2 year olds can set spoons on the table. This is an opportunity to work on language skills and following directions, i.e., “Put the spoons beside the plates”
- The amount of time a child is expected to sit at the table can be gradually increased over a period of time.
©Lifestart Foundation 2018
An bhfuil a fios agat go dtig leat clarú le Make One Change 2018 anseo i nGaeilge
Nó is feidir leat an fhoirm seo a úsaid – agus é a chur ar ais chugainn sa phost nó ar ríomhphost chuig email@example.com
Tá duaiseanna íontacha ar fáil sa chrannchur do theaghlaigh atá claraithe roimh 26 Eanair 2018
Sure, it’s fun to share a good laugh. But did you know it can actually improve your health? It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. By seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, though, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life. Read more about the benefits of laughter https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm
Many of the families who have signed up to Make One Change 2018 have said they want more fun and laughter in their family life. That might be about playing silly games, getting out to do something fun at the weekend or just taking time to enjoy being together as a family. What will your Make One Change be?
Sign up by THIS FRIDAY 26th January to be in with a chance of winning some great prizes.
Who wouldn’t enjoy a day in Oakfield Park or Ionad Cois Locha in Dunlewey? Enjoy bowling or swimming or a family film in Letterkenny or Bundoran. Fill your picnic basket with good things from M&S or Lidl and head off to Ards Forest Park. Enjoy family adventure activities in Gartan Outdoor Centre or a night of posh camping in Portsalon Luxury Camping or the Wild Atlantic Camp in Creeslough. Lots more great prizes but remember if you aren’t in you can’t win – so sign up today!
Have you signed up yet for Make One Change? Have you thought about what one small change could make a big difference in your life as a family? Do you need more family time, more exercise, less screen time, more laughter? Whatever small change would work best for your family sign up today by clicking the link:
or by downloading the form Parent-Plus-Booking form pdf
nó é a dhéanamh i nGaeilge Foirm iontrala
Sign up before Friday 26th January and you could win a night for the family in one of the fabulous pods in the Wild Atlantic Camp in Creeslough plus a family activity! Other prizes include a visit to Oakfield Park including a trip on the train, vouchers for cinema, swimming and bowling trips, family adventure activities in Gartan Outdoor Centre, vouchers for M&S and Lidl, and much more. But you have to sign up before next Friday to be in with a chance to win!
Here at Parent Hub Donegal we want to give a big shout out to all our sponsors. We have some great prizes and every family that registers for Make One Change will be entered in the draw. Just click the link to register
or download the PDF and post it back to us when complete
Remember you have to sign up before Friday 26th January to be entered into the free draw!
So whether you fancy filling your picnic basket with good things from M&S or Lidl, adventure activities in Gartan Outdoor Centre or a year’s free pass to Ards Forest Park, Swimming in Aura or in the Millpark Hotel, a bite to eat in the Abbey Hotel, The Station House or Kee’s Hotel, a family trip to the cinema in Century Cinema Letterkenny or Eclipse Cinema Bundoran, a play session in Dizzy Rascals or Wain’s World Buncrana, a trip on the train in Oakfield Park or a visit to the butterflies and animals in Alcorn’s Tropical World, a night in a yurt in Portsalon Luxury Camping or a night in a pod at Wild Atlantic Camp plus an adventure activity or a voucher to book some activity sessions in Spraoi agus Spórt Carndonagh just sign up now for Make One Change.
Whatever small change you make to your family life – whether it is about having more time together, getting out and getting fit as a family, eating more healthily, improving communication or just having fun together with board games you will be amazed how one small change can make a big difference to your family life.
You might decide to get out and get fit as a family, or eat more healthily, plant vegetables or encouraging reading. You might plan a movie night for the family each week or decide to have ‘technology-free time’ – whatever works for your family.
You can sign up by clicking this link:-
Nó i nGaeilge leis an nasc seo:-
Every family from County Donegal that signs up before Friday 26th January will be entered into a free draw – and we have some great prizes!
Portsalon Luxury Camping https://www.donegalglamping.com/ have given us a night for a family in one of their amazing yurts. Now wouldn’t that be a fabulous way to catch up on some family time!
We also have vouchers for cinema, swimming, bowling, Tropical World, Wayne’s World, Oakfield Park and much much more!
Sign up today!
Here at Parent Hub Donegal January sees the launch of the 2018 Make One Change campaign inviting families to make some small change to their routine which could make a big difference to their life as a family. For some families it is a choice to make more time for family meals, sitting together round the table. That can make a big difference to family life, taking time to catch up with each other, hearing what is going on, noticing how people are feeling. We also notice our food more when we sit down to eat rather than grabbing food on the run or eating in front of the TV. That means we may eat more healthily and be less likely to overeat—all good reasons to sit down together!
Last year families chose to-
Get out and do more as a family
Go for a walk—healthy, free and a great way to unwind
Improve communication—listen more, make time for conversation
Have a games or movie night
Make time for laughter and fun
Eat more healthily, keeping treats for the weekend.
And lots more!
What is important is that a family thinks about what small change could make a big difference to them—and then commit to making it happen! Forms to sign up for Make One Change 2018 will be available from January through all the primary and secondary schools in the County as well as through Family Resource Centres and Community based projects. The form will also be available on line on our website www.parenthubdonegal.ie
You can also sign up on line here:-
or in Irish here:-
Every family that signs up for Make One Change will be entered into a free draw. We have some great prizes including lunch vouchers for hotels, passes for family swim, cinema and play centre trips, as well as vouchers for an adventure activity in the Gartan Outdoor Education & Training Centre and annual passes for Ards Forest Park. Other exciting prizes for 2018 are an amazing overnight family glamping experience in the Wild Atlantic Camp in Creeslough and another for the beautiful yurts in Portsalon Luxury Camping. We are grateful to all our sponsors for their generosity. As they say, if you’re not in you can’t win so make sure your family signs up for the Make One Change 2018 challenge! For information on Make One Change, Parenting Programmes and services you can find us on line at parenthubdonegal.ie on Facebook and Twitter or phone us on 087 1736667