WRITTEN BY SALLY HILLS-DAVIS, CHILDRENS OCCUPATIONAL
THERAPIST AND KIRTSY BROCKLEHURST, CHILDRENS PHYSIOTHERAPIST
The Covid 19 pandemic has been long and at times seemingly never ending. Here in the UK this week marks a move towards some form of new normality, shops are reopening and all children's activities have the green light to go ahead. Lockdown has been hard on us all, but the effects on our children is not yet fully known or understood.
What we do know is that children have been less active. Sports clubs and swimming lessons have been cancelled, soft play centers closed, parks shut, meeting up with friends for a kick about at the local park scrapped. For younger children, baby groups, massage classes, toddler groups have all been non existent.
Babies and young children have missed out on new sensory experiences, fewer car rides to experience the vibration sensation and viewing the scenery, as it flies past as a blur of technicolour through their window. Less time in busy environments, such as the supermarket, hearing the hubble bubble of echoey noise all around them, unfamiliar voices, seeing bright lights and strangers faces and smelling unfamiliar smells (think walking past the deli counter followed by the rotisserie chicken, then the cheeses!). A trip to the clothes shop and touching all the different textures (I’m sure our children weren’t the only toddlers to hang their arm out the side of the pushchair brushing their hands along all the rails of clothes) feeling the slipperiness of silk, softness of velvet, coarseness of denim. A trip to the local swimming pool, a new strange environment, different sounds, different feelings across their skin or the harsh taste of chlorine as they get a mouthful of water.
The missed sensory experiences might take time for babies and young children to acclimatise to. They may cry, shake their head, if older, put hands over their ears or if crawling or walking, they may try to escape the situation. It may take time for your child to meet more than one other adult and child without feeling overwhelmed.
You might find that, as children and babies have the opportunities to re join groups and other experiences again, they may be less enthusiastic than you were expecting. It might not only be the children, but you, yourself, maybe feeling anxious too. The Mental Health Foundation states that we should be prepared for it to take time to find our way back and connect with life. Mind charity reiterates this by saying ‘everyone has their own response to lockdown changes and its important to take things at your own pace’
We, here at The Practical Child, have started to see each other face to face again and meet our friends and families. It is going to take us all time to get back to some kind of normality.
Thinking of you all
From lockdown to relaxation of covid rules:tips on looking after your mental health(2021) Mental Health Foundation http://mentalhealth.org.uk 15.04.202
Manage feelings about lockdown easing (2021) http://mind.org.uk 22.04.2021