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'After spending most of 2020 in lockdown, here are 5 positive things my kids have learned.'

Smiling Mind
Thanks to our brand partner, Smiling Mind

It’s fair to say that if 2020 was a jellybean, it’d be the liquorice one. It’s been tough, especially for those of us in Victoria who have spent the majority of the year in lockdown.

The good news is, things are looking up. As our donut days continue and we edge closer to some semblance of normality, I’ve been reflecting on the positive lessons my kids have learned as a result of this crazy year. 

My boys enjoying some time outdoors during lockdown. Image: Supplied.

Lesson 1: The little things really do matter most.

My kids have had a privileged life when it comes to ‘stuff’. They have a room full of toys and are spoilt by family members every birthday and Christmas. While they are showered with affection, at times I have fallen into the trap of showing my love by buying them more stuff.

The pandemic has taught my kids that when the chips are down, it’s not the toy shopping you miss, it’s the simple things – hugging your grandparents, enjoying a playdate with friends, and gathering at the park for a picnic.

Last weekend, they saw their grandparents for the first time in five months and their little hearts exploded. By taking away so many of life’s simple pleasures, 2020 has taught my kids to appreciate them a lot more. Stuff is just stuff. Family, connection, experiences and freedom are what makes life truly fulfilling. 

Lesson 2: Mindfulness is a handy tool during tough times.

Back in May, I wrote about how the Smiling Mind Family Program was helping my family stay calm, connected and focussed during the hopefully-never-to-return days of home schooling. I’ve continued to use the app to help my kids remain positive during lockdown 2.0 and post-lockdown life.

Mindfulness has helped my kids readjust as they returned to school. Image: Supplied.

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While my six year old has weathered the storm pretty well, my more sensitive and anxious seven year old has struggled with the uncertainty and upheaval. Worried about how he was faring, I downloaded the free Smiling Mind digital care pack for kids, which contains meditations, activities and heaps of information to help support his mental health.

The packs (preview below) have been developed by psychologists to help kids aged five to 12 stay healthy and happy as we slowly transition back into some kind of 'normal'. Both my kids have really benefitted from the five to seven year old care pack, which encourages them to draw pictures that relate to their emotions, senses and awareness. While I don’t always get it right, I know that by focussing on mindfulness I’m helping them (and myself) stay mentally well.


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Lesson 3: Boredom can fuel creativity.

In the modern age where kids are constantly on the go with school, sport and parties every other weekend, there’s not much chance to be bored. When you’re stuck at home for months on end, boredom comes with the territory. And that, can be a really good thing.

When my kids started to say “I’m boooooored” for the 25th time, I’d encourage them to find something creative to do. Something that didn’t involve the PlayStation. After a bit more whingeing and dragging their feet, they would start colouring in, inventing physical games, building cubby houses out of cardboard boxes or hosting imaginary parties with their fluffy toys. I even found them drawing pictures in their Smiling Mind digital care pack with no prompting. They learned that boredom can be a valuable tool in fuelling creativity.

Kids' parties are a lot quieter in lockdown. Image: Supplied.

Lesson 4: Small sacrifices can create significant change.

The pandemic has shown my kids that when a community comes together to support the greater good, amazing things can happen. By staying home, following guidelines and wearing a mask, we  were able to get down to 0 new cases of COVID-19 and maintain it.

I’m hoping that this lesson will encourage my kids to implement small daily changes when it comes to minimising their impact on the environment and supporting other worthwhile causes. I’ve often shared with them my ethos – that a society is defined by how it supports and cares for its most vulnerable members. The pandemic has demonstrated the power of collective care in action.

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Simple acts lead to big change. Image: Supplied.

Lesson 5: It’s OK to say you’re not OK.

Having two boys I’ve always been very conscious of not parenting with the ‘boys don’t cry/solider on’ rhetoric that did so much damage to the EQ of my husband and father’s generation. The pandemic has reinforced in my kids that it’s OK to cry. It’s OK to have days when it all feels too much and you just want to snuggle under a doona with Mum or Dad. You don’t have to slap a smile on your face and pretend everything is rainbows and sunshine. 

With the help of things like Smiling Mind, I’ve found ways to encourage my kids to identify and communicate how they’re feeling. I hope this is something they continue as they grow into teenagers and adults, safe in the knowledge that their parents will always be available to listen and support them through anything life throws their way.

While I’m pretty happy to see the back of this year, I know that the many lessons will stand my kids in good stead for the future. I know it’ll take a long time for us to fully conceptualise and recover from the impacts of lockdown. But as we heal from the hardships, I hope we’re able to reflect on some of the good. 

What lessons did you and your family learn during lockdown? We’d love you to share your insights in the comments.

Sign up here to be sent Smiling Mind's free Kids' Care Packs, with worksheets and donwloadable activities to help promote positive mental health in our kids.

Smiling Mind
The Smiling Mind Digital Care Packs are a free resource developed by psychologists to support children as they deal with COVID-19 related challenges. Identified as a demographic at high risk of facing mental health challenges amidst the pandemic, the Smiling Mind Care Packs deliver practical, preventative, online resources for children aged five to 12. The easy to use toolkits provide parents, carers, and educators with activities to support children at home and in the classroom. Download yours today!
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