Play!

Summertime happiness?

The sun is shining, it's a beautiful summer and the streets are full of people with lots of friends, things to do and happy looking! Are they though?

A lot of people struggle in the summer with depression and anxiety. There are a lot of reasons for this like; high expectations, not pretty enough, body conscious, lack of sleep due to heat and/or light, different schedule and  routines. 

All these things can be discombobulating and disrupt everyday life.

There are lots of things you can do to help prevent summer depression and be able to actually enjoy this beautiful time of the year:

Know yourself and recognise the symptoms. 

Find someone to talk to about your emotions and take your feelings of sadness seriously. Keep fit Exercise, drinking enough water and stay in the shade and cool places when possible.

If the bedroom is to light, hang blackout curtains. Also use a fan to cool the room.

Be realistic about your schedule. What are your priorities and what can wait?

Be kind to yourself, do what you feel comfortable with. It's OK to say no if that is what is right.

We are lucky to have all the seasons in the UK so get out there and enjoy the summer! This too will pass too soon.

  

 

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Beating the Indoor Blues...

It's that time of the year when there is a bit too much rain, too little light and we can all start to feel a bit cooped up indoors.

Beat the 'indoor blues' feelings with your family with a few new ideas.

Kids hardly play board games these days, but despite themselves - they really do enjoy them when you play with themIt's all about time together that makes all the difference.

Grab a game that you can start and stop easily (charity shops have really inexpensive games you can pick up a new one each week).  There are often great teaching moments in board games like maths, teamwork, patience, language!

Don't shy away from embracing your kids' technology.  Play the Wii with them (you might surprise them and yourself at how good you are!); play 'heads up' or 'what am I' or 'Charades' on the iPad or plug in their playlist and have a dance party!

Or there's:-

  • Simon Says
  • Pillow Fight
  • Matchbox car races
  • Marching band
  • Puppet show
  • Paper airplane contest (whose plane goes the farthest)
  • Treasure hunt (put the lights off in the house and use torches!)

And finally, don't ignore the outdoors.  If you plan it - getting outdoors in the rain and dark can be a lot of fun.  Dress appropriately, put on wellington boots, grab a torch and go exploring in the garden or nearby woods.  It'll make bath time that much more fun when you get home!

 

rainy day.jpg
Grad a new board every other week to keep kids entertained....try to swop with friends/school or try charity shops...

Grad a new board every other week to keep kids entertained....try to swop with friends/school or try charity shops...

It's OK to do nothing.....

It's been weeks and weeks of holidays and there are still more to come.  Are your kids starting to whine and moan - get under your feet?

Instead of jamming these last few weeks with more 'things to do' - remember that it's also OK to do nothing.

Because 'doing nothing' - isn't really doing nothing.  If you are living and breathing and talking you are doing something.  If you've ever caught yourself saying 'do something useful' to your child - have a stop and think what you are really saying.  'Useful' implies the future - of use to you for some future benefit - but what about now?  Today?  This moment?

Try to lead by example to show your children that to live in the moment with all your senses being savoured can actually make you feel alive and that's OK.  That being 'aimless', 'restless' or even 'bored' can actually spark a part of your brain that leads to creativity and imagination.  

Why do authors, artists, creative minds like to go for walks or hole themselves up in retreats? It's because allowing yourself to 'not think' often leads to great thoughts!    Many people will find creative and unusual ways to escape boredom that would never have entered their minds if they hadn't been bored in the first place.  And aimless thinking helps to stop tunnel vision if you are too focused or intent on one goal.  If you have no set end in mind - you allow your mind and yourself to explore ideas and options.

And remember, our brains and our children's brains need downtime.  We all need time to recharge; to process, consolidate and reinforce what's come before.

So do nothing!  Who knows what you'll end up doing !

Oh Sunny Days....

We’re almost ½ way through the holidays and the sunny days are still possible – so keep your children as busy as possible with outdoor activities.  Here are a few to try:-

  • Create a garden or a fairy garden.  Let your children document the creation by taking pictures and keeping a journal of how the plants/herbs are growing.  Plant seeds together and watch them grow.

  • Build a house:  Gather old cardboard boxes, coloured paper and go for it.  The house can be for lego characters, dolls, handmade people or even garden insects!

  • Feed the butterflies.  There are loads of ideas on the internet of how to encourage butterflies into your garden and how to feed them and keep them coming back to you.

  • Older kids:  Make a sun dial/sun clock outside – get them to figure it out!

  • Camp outside – with dad and mum if needed – or if they are older on their own or with friends.

  • Make a ‘creativity space’ for the holidays and let them use it!  This can be in the garage, in a sheltered corner of the garden or even indoors.

  • Buy off cuts of wood or collect large unwanted storage boxes and make ‘bean bag in the hole’ / backyard bowling alley / ‘darts’ board type of gamesetc

  • Movie night:  Send out ‘kids made’ invites, make cup cakes, decorate the room and have fun

  • Tapestry table anyone?  Get some hessian and cover an old table or picture frame.  Use chalk to stencil pictures and buy loads of different coloured wool and get them weaving…

  • Last but not least:  Blocks!  Lego / wood / paper / cardboard….create and play

Happy holidays!

TAPESTRY TABLE

TAPESTRY TABLE

Keeping Kids Entertained.....

Following on from last week's blog - here are some more ideas to keep the kids entertained these holidays:-

1.  Make a den.  Either inside the house - or in the garden.  Let them create it, build it and play in it.  Use a place you won't need to 'tidy' for a few weeks so it can be their play space for the holidays.  Think tents / tee pees / upside down chairs covered with sheets...you get the idea !

2.   Make a Water Wall.  How to create happy kids...let them play with water.  Find a shady spot in the garden and get building....see picture below

3.  Chalk is great to 'draw' games onto tarmac or patio's (or use masking tape) to create boardgames outside.  Hopscotch; snakes and ladders....you can do anything (google 'backyard board games').  If you are courageous - let them 'draw' artwork with chalk or masking tape on the fence or driveway.

4.  Slip 'n Slide.  With the weather so great - make your own slip 'n slide.  Kids love it.  All you need is a patch of grass and a slight slope and some dishwashing liquid.  Maybe the neighbour's kids can join in?

5.  Create an Obstacle Course.  Either inside the house (place cushions as stepping stones & obstacles to climb over and under) or outside (use hoops, logs, cones, old cardboard, bin liners etc).  Time everyone with the challenge to increase personal times over the holidays.  Change the course daily and get the kids to make the changes!  Invite friends over for 'races'.

6.  Have a scavenger hunt.  Kids of all ages love this and they are great fun and can take a lovely long time to complete. Use google for loads of ideas of what to include - just remember to set the rules out before you start - any fights and the hunt is over!  Make it challenging and accessible for all age groups and try and include friends/neighbours.  A great idea is to work in pairs on the hunt to make it more social and less competitive!

Happy holidays....

 

 A 'Water Wall' is a fantastic activity for kids

 A 'Water Wall' is a fantastic activity for kids

Holiday times ahead! Yay or nay?!

The summer holidays are upon us and with them comes, hopefully,  a lot of family time. How that works out varies. Some families enjoy most of it and some struggle not to have a break down!

What do we need to do to make the holidays work for all of us? 

Here are a few tips that can be helpful:

- Plan the week as much as possible. Knowing ahead of time will save a lot of hassle.

- Take turns in inviting the kids friends over, hopefully it will be returned! Maybe their parents too?!

- Make a list of 'to do' things at your home that kids can help with.

- Plan a holiday scheme day at least one day a week if you can.

- Doing nothing for a day is great too. Mum or dad can get on with their own stuff.  All kids have the ability to entertain themselves in the garden or their rooms. Boredom brings out creativity and forces the children to think and come up with ideas of activities. 

- Look up ideas on line for activities to do locally. There is a lot on, just ask google!

- Take the time to have discussions and get to know what the kids think about current issues, music, the internet do's and don'ts, drugs and alcohol. There is so much worth talking about!

There is no doubt holidays can be tough and intense but if we prepare and discuss expectations and house rules before, it will help to keep things as they should be.

Last but not least, chose your battles and enjoy your kids!! They grow up very fast!

Play brings out the best in all of us!

I have just read a great article on Linkedin by a guy called Blake Griffin Edwards. 

I would like to share parts of this as I think he has a great point. We live such a different life today compared to how most us did growing up. Everything has it's advantages and this generation are well prepared for the digital life we are now leading.

However, what have they learned from playing outdoors? Have they done it enough? Do we allow them to? 

This is what Blake writes:

"You're an adult. Go play with a kid!

Getting outside for an hour or two disturbs the monotony of the mundane, the routine, and the digital. The outdoors have a way of cleansing thoughts and emotions, sometimes leading to unexpected conversation and connection. In the best of cases, spending quality time together leads to storytelling, laughter, and other forms of playfulness—relationship-building catalysts that spur not only a deeper sense of connection but also enrich development. And that goes for the adults as well, of course. As we lower our guards and heighten our senses, we all learn and grow.

Like breathing, eating, and sleeping, we all—especially our kids—have a built-in need to be playful. Life is a kind of playground. If a child isn’t good at playful interaction, he or she may be more likely to withdraw from social situations. Being good at playful interaction depends on continual modeling and practice. Play is critical for healthy development. There are no substitutes. Everything we do can be permeated with an attitude that is playful. Albert Einstein has been quoted as having once stated,

“Play is the highest form of research.”

Playfulness also signals safety. Research psychologists from Texas Christian University instructed, “Shared silliness, laughter, and games all demonstrate to a child that you mean no harm (Purvis, Cross, & Sunshine, 2007, The Connected Child)."

Playfulness can unlock and promote language-skill development, social skills, and even attachment security. Time dedicated to freewheeling, spontaneous play is eroding, and everything from sadness, worry, boredom, or worse flood in behind. You've seen this in action, right? If we’re being honest, don’t we see it in ourselves?

Many of our lives are too crowded for regular and unadulterated play. To the extent we live playless lives, human aptitudes such as spontaneity, creativity, and cooperation fall in decline. It is our responsibility to catalyze for our children the kind of playfulness we all need in our lives, and let them guide the play whenever possible. By the end of the day, let's be sure to give our children the time, space, and resources they need to play well, and let's also be sure we've wasted some time being playful together. "

Go on! Go and play!!