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Easing the stress of lockdown – a letter to families and friends

Posted in: Blog News

Dear Family Futures families and friends, 

Well here we are moving into week eight of lockdown and following Sunday evening’s announcement the lockdown is clearly going to continue for the coming weeks.

It has been a challenging time for everyone adjusting to this new reality of being at home twenty-four seven. One of the big challenges that we have been hearing from families has been trying to home educate and feeling the pressure with lessons sent by schools to try and ensure that your child doesn’t get behind in their school work. This is, of course, even harder for parents trying to also work from home.

It is understandable that for older children who have exams coming up, some form of school work continues. However, we are of the view that it is an unnecessary pressure for parents with primary school or early secondary school aged children to be focusing on school work in the midst of the pandemic.

Many parents are feeling under pressure that if they don’t do their bit and keep the child on track with school work they are letting them down. Many of you are also worried that when your child returns to school they are going to be behind.

The task for us professionals is to help children and families find a way through this lockdown period and not exacerbate mental health difficulties and increase the stress on parents who are often trying to juggle childcare and work. Can we not find a better way through this together?

At Family Futures we think that, at a time of global crisis, the priority should not be school work, but using this time of lockdown to help children enjoy time at home with their parents.  

Managing children’s anxieties about why the world outside no longer feels safe is a vital task for parents at this time, particularly for traumatised children where it is important not to compound the traumas they have already experienced. 

This lockdown period is a golden opportunity to do some of the things adopted and fostered children missed out on doing when they were first placed – a chance for child and parent interaction. Those first weeks and months of placement are often far more challenging than anticipated and most children do not settle immediately but are understandably anxious about this new family. Is it really safe and forever? So at the beginning of a placement it often isn’t possible for children to really enjoy the time at home with the new family and experience that early interaction.

Children who have had traumatic childhoods haven’t had that early time at home with a parent when it is possible to play and to potter around at home doing day-to-day things together. These things are not to be underestimated as they are the building blocks by which we learn to learn – the foundations of all our learning. This sort of learning happens naturally and is enjoyable! 

So we recommend learning naturally and without conflict. Put down the school books and focus on learning through the day-to-day tasks of hanging out the washing, cleaning, cooking, playing in the garden, teddy bears picnics and singing together! Play Eye Spy, hide and seek, and make dens! These tasks and games may not work for every child, but pick ones that suit your family, and enjoy teaching your child how to be happy, how to play and most importantly how to be in a relationship with you. This reduction of pressure and stress has the potential to ease the overall stress of lockdown and will help relationships blossom and ultimately help the learning when your child returns to school.

To support families at this time we’ll be running webinars in the next few weeks with ideas and guidance from our team, plus a chance to ask us your questions. (You can find out more about these here.)

With love from Jay and all the team at Family Futures

11 May 2020

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