Mental Health Awareness Week Ideas for the Family

Before I had my twins I would never have thought about my mental health.  I didn’t think I needed to, but that is the thing about your mental health it can change.  Who knows why this concept seemed so alien to me.  I mean I am not surprised when I am physically well and then get a cold….  However, with my mental health, despite having been through a traumatic experience it never dawned on me that this could have ramifications for my mental health.   Well not until my family started telling me i needed to see a doctor.  I want my children to grow up with a more proactive approach to managing mental health and so here are some of the activities we do as a family and some mental health awareness week ideas that we will be trying

woman meditating raising awareness for mental health
Meditation for mental health

Eat together as a family

We are lucky as my husband is home in time for us to eat as a family everyday,  but still  activities get in the way.  We always all sit down together at the weekend though at least.  Family meals are a time to reconnect as a group and share our  experiences.  They are also a time for abject chaos in our house so not always very relaxing, but still…

Research suggests that eating with others helps mental health as it creates a time to talk, develops feelings of contentment and can help children (and adults) to feel secure.  There are also benefits for social development including listening skills – totally a work in progress in our house!

eating together as a family
Eating together as a family benefits for mental health

Physical Activity

Why not head to the park as a family and have fun.  This might be joining in with a junior park run, playing football or just playing chase.  I definitely find that getting all of us outside and running about lifts the spirits.  In fact if the kids start squabbling that has always been my first thought- lets get out!  

Showing our kids mummy and daddy being active must be a positive message for them and their future.  Working out and especially running  has been great for my mental health so I want to pass on the connection between feeling good and being active to my children.

Kindness Challenge

How about setting you and your kids a kindness challenge for mental health awareness week?  So ask each person in the family to consciously do something kind.  This could be playing with a child who doesn’t have someone to play with at lunchtime, helping mummy or daddy without being asked or helping a sibling with a task they are finding difficult.  The point of the exercise is for them to be mindful of their actions and be thinking about being positive.

Get more sleep

According to the Place2Be charity children who get less sleep are more likely to worry so during Mental Health Awareness week why not concentrate on pre bedtime relaxation and talk to the children about how important sleep is.  Also go to bed earlier yourself after all we aren’t just trying to look after the children.  This is one thing I need to do more often as I get tired, but then still watch tv before bed.  I need to take my own advice!!

Meditation

We use meditation and relaxation tracks a lot in our house.  I discovered the benefit of these when trying to get pregnant and I love them when you are feeling tired, but also worried.  A meditation session can totally work wonders and enable that brain to relax and sleep to come. After seeing the benefits myself I started using meditation with the children too.  Each evening as they settle down to sleep they listen to The Floppy Sleep Game by Patti Teel (this woman needs a medal as this is the only way my eldest could settle for sleep when he was younger)  She has saved my sanity many times when kids have awoken in the night I can tell you.  

We  also use meditation to support my eldest with hormonal mood swings.  When he gets cross he is encouraged to take time out and go to his room with an ipod and a children’s meditation track. It works a treat.

The kids also enjoy me leading relaxation sessions with them.  I have used books to learn activities that we can do together.

Time to talk

Create time to talk.  I always ask the kids about their day, but it has occurred to me that I don’t actively encourage them to talk about the things that didn’t go so well that day.  So this mental health awareness week I am going to start doing that.  I want them to know we can also talk about the things that are perhaps a concern and not just our successes.  In the UK we have the tendency to cover up not feeling ok.  If you are British you will know that the only acceptable answer to ‘How are you?’  is ‘Fine thanks’.  At least within the family I think we need to change this.  If I ask the kids how their day went I need them to know that it is ok to say ‘it was awful and this is why’

One thing I need to work on is making sure that all four of the kids get their individual time to talk to me.  It is much harder to raise a concern when 4 people are fighting for airspace.  I have this time carved out for the boys at the moment, but it is harder to do it with the twins. They just do everything together…  So this week I am going to work this  out.  They need their own mummy time too.

Make a rainbow dinner

mental health from the inside out
mental health through eating right

Talking about mental health can be a great opportunity to talk about taking care of yourself generally.  We talk about how we need to eat the rainbow to keep ourselves feeling bright and sunny.  Believe me this is a struggle as one of my son’s is so fussy and hates most vegetables, but I try…  This week we are going to do another vegetable taste test and then see how many colours of the rainbow we can get on our plate for dinner.  I won’t lie this isn’t a miracle and mister fussy pants probably won’t try most of it, but it is worth a try.

 

What are you doing for mental health awareness week this year?

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24 thoughts on “Mental Health Awareness Week Ideas for the Family

  1. What a great post. Our family meals are few and far between but I LOVE it when we're all together, as does everyone, it seems. #Dreamteam
  2. I love your honesty and empathise on how parenting and birth itself can rock our mental health. Love that you are being proactive in this regard to improve things for the next generation. When I had post-natal depression I think both my mum and brother shied away from helping me as it was too close to home for them and in an era when it was not Ok to not be OK if you know what I mean. Love the idea of meditations with children. Well done you! #DreamTeam
    1. Thanks Kate. I remember overhearing my dad saying to my mum - I think she has that post natal thingy and it did make me laugh. My dad is not well known for being one to discuss feelings so I knew I had issues if he was verbalising it lol! #DreamTeam
  3. There is so much about this post that resonates with me and that I try to put into practice myself, when I was growing up there was never any emphasis on mental wellbeing and so it's something I'm aware of now and want to teach to my kids. There are some great tips here! Thank you! #DreamTeam
  4. We used to enjoy eating a a family unitl our our family got too big, I want to invest in a bigger pull out table but finances aren't on my side right now. It would be so nice if we could get one in time for christmas. Some really great tips here.
  5. Sounds like you have learnt a lot from your mental health problems and now have positive strategies to help with that which makes all the difference as you feel more in control which is positive in helping with feeling better in your mood X #dreamteam
  6. Great ideas for setting kid’s up for good mental health, we have good intentions to do park run every week but never quite make it! #dreamteam
  7. Love it that you involve the children in meditation and that they have taken to it without feeling silly, certainly a great skill to pick up which should help them in later life #globalblogging
    1. I think it is because we have just always done it so they think it is totally normal #DreamTeam
  8. I have triplets and totally get where you are coming from. Excercise was my big saving to my mental state in the early years. Eating together was hard work, but now they are all teens it is a pleasure. #DreamTeam
    1. Triplets - wow! My twins nearly killed me so hats off to you. #DreamTeam
  9. I completely agree with all of these tips. We walk regularly and I attend Pilates to make sure I am looking after myself. We also try to eat well and get lots of the good stuff into our bodies (at least during the week!). I like your suggestion of random acts of kindness though ... might have to try that :) #DreamTeam
    1. I do like the acts of kindness thing. It seems to work well. #DreamTeam
  10. These are great tips Kirsty. Definitely creating space/time for listening and talking are up there with the important ones. We are lucky that we get to eat together as a family every day too, and this tends to create a natural pause where everyone can happily chatter about anything. #DreamTeam xx
  11. A lot of great ideas here. Such an overlooked part of parenting I think, and life in general, is putting enough emphasis on keeping our minds right #dreamteam
    1. I couldn't agree more. We are just encouraged to get on with it really and that just doesn't work in the long run #DreamTeam
  12. I always feel so much better when I'm exercising and getting more sleep, but sometimes it just seems so hard to do. I suppose it's finding the time to exercise on top of everything else, and as for sleep, the evenings are the only time I can have to myself, so I want to make the most of it. I really need to be more disciplined about getting to bed early, because I know for a fact that when I don't get enough sleep, it has a huge effect on my mood. #dreamteam.
    1. I totally hear you on that. I can't tell you how many times I have argued with my husband as he has been saying I need to go to bed as I am tired and I have been trying to explain to him how much I also need time to myself. If it helps now that my kids are all at school I am finding I get to bed earlier as I get more quiet during the day #DreamTeam
  13. I love this post Kirsty, it is such a great point to highlight. In the past week I have been thinking about this so much - how little time I feel I have sometimes to talk to my daughters, talk to my husband or just sit down and stop for five minutes. The pressure does build up and you can begin to feel it affect your head. We all need to try harder to slow down, as impossible as it seems at times. #dreamteam
    1. Sometimes I don't think I have a full conversation with my husband all week... This week I am determined to spend less time on my phone. #DreamTeam
  14. Some great tips here. I love getting outside when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Oh and eating with my kids is very stressful and always make me more on edge hehe! #dreamteam
    1. It can be a stressful time that's for sure... Tonight's dinner was a nightmare, but I am trying to do it anyway #DreamTeam
  15. I think sleep is critical - so many people do not get enough of it each night and it adds up to extreme fatigue. Hubster always jokes when I'm 'having feelings' that it must be nap time - and he's usually right! #DreamTeam
    1. I am guilty of not going to sleep early enough often times so then I am grumpy as hell! #DreamTeam

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