Linking Mental Health & Family Time

By UBC Camps

Quality family time is key to coming out the other side stronger and healthier than ever. Continue to strengthen family relations in a time of uncertainty!

It is rare to have such long bouts of uninterrupted time with our family members. Take this opportunity to ask your children questions and make conversation a priority. This is the perfect time to form new memories and strengthen family bonds. Eat meals together, whenever possible, and plan for some family time away from screens. While you may be spending 24/7 with your children, not all of that time is quality time.

Children’s mental health is also just as important as adult’s mental health, and with children often taking emotional cues from the caregivers in their life, they are bound to also feel a little uneasy right now. You can combine some family time with self-care using these tips:

Acknowledge how different this new normal is; it’s OK to talk about it. 

  • Listen with an open mind, and leave space for your child to process. You might be surprised about what their biggest worries are: from the school’s fish tank to the economy.
Brainstorm ways to connect with family and friends.
  • Utilize FaceTime, Zoom, Skype and other digital platforms.
  • Try snail mail! Writing or drawing a letter to a loved one can make for a sweet surprise.
Get active together!
  • Physical activity is proven to reduce stress levels and increase cortisol levels.
  • Have a dance party! Make a playlist of your family’s favourite songs.
  • Try going on a scavenger hunt in your neighbourhood.

Find an outlet for those worries and anxieties.
  • Make stress balls or worry dolls.
  • Try meditation together, yoga, or make stapled paper journals to decorate.
  • Create an encouraging family mantra, or use visualization as a way to brainstorm what you are looking forward to in the future.
  • Ensure you are helping children interpret fact from fiction in age appropriate ways, especially around news and media.
Practice gratitude.
  • Write thank you cards to community workers: medical staff, emergency workers, your post person, grocery store clerk and other civil workers.
  • Cut out hearts and tape them in your windows in solidarity.
Set goals together.
  • Goal setting can be a great way to help children gain some control during these circumstances, and supports the family routine you build (ex. learn 5 new words in Spanish, read the whole Harry Potter series this month, or text Grandma good morning each day).

 

Remember, whether you are practicing self-care together, or just having fun, the memories you create now will help to strengthen your family’s foundation for the future.