Do you have a child who is shielding? If so, whilst normal life may be returning for many parents - at least for now - for us this can bring a new kind of challenge. The British Psychological Society recently pointed out that continued restrictions on shielding families can add to a sense of difference and unfairness for our kids.
There have been many positives during lockdown - the introduction of online appointments has been fantastic, it has saved us hours. We have also saved a small fortune in petrol, in fact I can barely remember how to drive. We have had more time together as a family and we have learnt to be more resourceful.
But there have also been many challenges - we have had little support and I am feeling quite burnt out. Life feels very uncertain and as guidelines change there is increasing anxiety about the risks of exposure. How do we return to some form of normality whilst protecting our vulnerable children? We might even ask: what will the new normal be like?
Poppy and Spike have generally been amazing, but lately they have had a sense of unfairness about having to shield when their friends aren’t. Understandably they feel they are missing out and with this comes frustration. For us there is the ongoing uncertainty - is it safe or isn't it? I imagine that for parents in a similar situation, on top of managing these issues, it can be wearying having to keep explaining to other people, family, friends, why we can’t join in or see them. I know that I sometimes end up feeling like the joy killer at the party or wonder if others think I am just being neurotic!
We have to keep reminding ourselves that Spike has a serious health condition - even if he seems fine.
The stress of the past few months, balancing home life with medical needs, home educating, shielding and trying to manage the expectations of others has left many of us feeling rather burnt out at times. So, I was delighted to be sent the document 'Shielding Advice for Children and Young People’ containing research conducted by The British Psychological Society.
In it they share some very useful strategies to help families in challenging situations or who are experiencing overpowering emotions.
There are top tips from other children and young people who have been shielding - along with a list of useful contacts.
My favourite is…..'Imagine you’re helping a friend - Another way to create a bit of space around your thoughts is to imagine a friend is telling you what you are telling yourself. You might have to try hard to imagine this, but give it a go. What would you say to that friend? How would you try to help them? This is how you can help yourself too, but it is often easier for us to think about how we can help others rather than how we can help ourselves.'
I highly recommend sharing it with your children - they may get comfort hearing the experience of kids in a similar situation.
It is also great that they consider the impact on siblings. I know Poppy has to deal with restrictions placed upon her because of her brothers condition which at times can feel very unfair.
If you have a similar experience to ours or have found solutions and resources that have helped your family, I’d love to hear them - firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you been neglecting your physical and emotional wellbeing? If so why not read my blog: How can we thrive amongst the chaos?