Being a parent and living with depression can feel impossible at times. Yes, being a parent is rewarding, but let’s not pretend it’s ever easy. There are little people depending on you for love, affection and attention. On top of that is the never-ending list of tasks to complete: clothes to wash, dry and iron, bath-time, food to buy, meals to prepare, the list goes on, and on, and on, and on.
Self-care becomes a battle of guilt, resistance and time. Your energy reserves are depleted. You feel as though you would need to sleep solidly for 5 years to catch up on that sleep deficit. You just want to hit the ‘pause’ button and catch a breath.
These six activities are for those days when your energy gauge is at empty and depression is making the simplest of things feel Herculean.
DRAWING, PAINTING AND COLOURING IN
The relaxing action of colouring in is becoming something adults are tuning to combat stress and to really chill out. Colouring books for adults and children are readily available, you can even get them in the supermarket. But, if you need a quick ‘go to’ activity to do with your children, big and small, you can print off some colouring pages for free.
Doing jigsaw puzzles is such a low energy way of entertaining children – and yourself! You can even do online puzzles if you haven’t got any at home. You can order puzzles on places like Amazon or pop into a charity shop. The good thing about puzzles is that they come in all abilities, shapes, sizes and with a range of characters and scenes on them. You may want to chose a more complex one to do and work together as a team to complete it.
WALK AROUND THE BLOCK
The benefits of exercise to combat symptoms of depression are well documented. But sometimes it’s easier said than done. Try to have a slow walk around the block. Ask your children questions about what they can see. If it’s raining maybe put some wellies on and jump in puddles, that’s guaranteed to make your children laugh. Limit your walk to just the road that you live on, or walk as far as you can for five minutes.
READING AND PICTURE BOOKS
Looking through a book is a great way to connect with your children. If they are unable to read, just looking through a picture book can be fun. It’s fun to talk to them about what they see on the pages. If your child can read, perhaps start a longer book so that you can return to it later. Charity shops are fantastic places to pick up books as is the local library.
The word ‘craft’ may fill you with dread but it doesn’t have to be stressful. You don’t have to spend a fortune and you won’t need to turn your living room into the set of Mr Maker. We have found some fantastic resources online for simple, inexpensive craft ideas you can do with your children.
Red Ted Art is a great place to go to find easy creative and crafty ideas. There are loads to choose from, all varying in age group and ability.
Parents.com also have some brilliant ideas. Maybe start a simple project that you and your children can come back to each week, something to look forward to.
TELEVISION AND FILMS
Let’s be honest – it is so tempting to put the TV for some peace and quiet from the kids. It’s okay! Instead of leaving them to it, watch a few episodes of their favourite show with them. Then have a chat about it with them. This gives you something to concentrate on as well as something to talk to them about.
Having young children to entertain when you are living with depression can add an extra layer of pressure to your daily routine. When it is hard to motivate yourself, thinking about motivating them can increase your anxiety. If it helps, break your day into sections and take it a few hours at a time.
Also, know that you don’t have to do all the things – just one thing at a time is absolutely fine.
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