Parents have a crucial responsibility in caring for their children but it is equally important for them to prioritise their own mental health as maintaining good mental well-being allows parents to be the best versions of themselves and provide optimal support to their children. Self-care plays a vital role in achieving this hence, parents should engage in activities that bring them joy, relaxation and fulfillment and this could include hobbies, exercise, spending time with loved ones or pursuing personal interests.
Setting boundaries and learning to say no when necessary is also important to prevent overwhelm and burnout while seeking support from professionals, such as therapists or counsellors, can provide valuable guidance and coping strategies. Taking time for self-reflection, practicing mindfulness and managing stress are essential for parents to maintain their own mental health.
By prioritising their well-being, parents can create a positive and nurturing environment for both themselves and their children, fostering stronger family relationships and overall happiness. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Himanshu Nirvan, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, said, “Parents’ mental health and their children’s growth are protected when they include their kids in activities that foster their well-being. Spending meaningful time with your children develops a sense of connection and delight, which lowers stress and improves parental mental health. This might include outdoor experiences or artistic endeavours. Create a loving atmosphere where both kids and parents may flourish by embracing the power of play, discovery and closeness.”
Dr Puja Kapoor, Paediatric Neurologist and Co-Founder of Continua kids, shared, “Nowadays there is vacation time and no schools. The largest question the children are having is they are getting bored, what to do? If we go by the rules, screen time should be limited and supervised and then we are left with a huge amount of time where the children are complaining of boredom.”
According to her, here are few activities/tips to engage them:
1. Let them make a timetable and set a routine. It should have an hourly provision of things to be done by them. This will still have a system in the house despite the vacation
2. Tell them to write letters to their loved ones, family, friends, siblings, parents. This will enhance their writing skills and create a bonding.
3. Built a house of sheets combining the tables, chairs and they can add their imagination too. Children love doing such things and are excited about it.
4. Tea party: Get a tea set and call a few friends and tell them to play “Tea Party”. Tea may be imaginary but you can serve real snacks to make it exciting
5. Indoor Obstacle Course: Excessive energy can be utilised by making obstacle courses using chairs, cushions etc to make them run over, under them. This will help to utilise the time and keep their energy at bay
6. Involvement in household work: Make them set the dinner table, cleaning and dusting of the house, watering the garden/ plants, filling water bottles and putting them in the fridge.
Dr Ashutosh Kumar Sinha, Director of Paediatrics at Fortis Hospital in Noida, explained, “There have been lots of discussions and debates around the increase in the incidences of mental and behavioural issues particularly after Covid lockdown waves. There have been lots of studies which have highlighted various mental issues like anxiety, panic depression, screen addiction and various behavioural issues in children which have exponentially increased in children after the Covid period. The mental health of adults with children has also been greatly affected by increased stresses like job losses, decreased income due to lockdown, family issues because of less social interaction due to lockdown and various marital problems as well.”
He elaborated, “As the kids had been confined to the four walls of their houses due to school closure for a long period of time, both parents and children have been affected by it. Children’s energy which should have been spent on outdoor games and with other children, was diverted to screens because of online classes, eventually leading to screen addiction and aggressive behaviours. Due to this reason in summer holidays if the kids are engaged in activities it will help them get away from screen time. Also important is that the parents will get some respite from child care which will help them focus on their wellbeing. They can be more focussed in their work. Working mothers particularly will be greatly benefitted if kids are engaged in various activities in this summer holidays. They can be more productive at work and have some peace of mind which will help in their mental well being.”