For kids near me, the school days are dwindling down. My own children only have two and a half days left. A neighboring district has been out for a few days already. No matter when your kids' school finishes for the year, you probably have been thinking what break will look like. We fear mindless activities (TV, video games, YouTube) taking over or the kids driving us nuts because they are "bored."
A few years ago my friend shared a chart similar to the one pictured here and I immediately loved it. I tweaked it a bit for my family and added pictures since my youngest at that time was not reading. My husband and I love having the kids complete the chart daily. We have found that it takes much longer most days then we anticipated because they kids really get into and enjoy the tasks. They also often help one another which was a pleasant bonus. Of course, some days they rush through the tasks in order to watch TV or play a video game but we are okay with that because we know they have used their brains in numerous ways.
This chart doesn't replace us asking for other things to be completed when needed (such as chores) but it does help us know that our kids are engaging in lots of different activities. It also allows my husband to have some relaxation time while they are completing the activities as he is home with them during break.
A family member with a mental illness can be hard on a family. It can cause a range of emotions for other family members. I feel this can be especially hard on children/adolscents who have a sibling with a mental illness. The child with the mental illness typically has a lot of appointments the parents have to take them to- doctors appointments, therapy appointments, school meetings, etc. This takes up a lot of time for the parents. Also, the parents tend to be under a lot of stress as they want their kids to be healthy and happy and seeing their kids struggle with mental illness goes against this.
I was talking to a client the other day about this. With so much attention on the child with mental illness, what are we doing for the other child? I have been guilty of this myself. A parent of a child that has any sort of illness needs to devote time and attention to that kid but we need to make sure that we're still giving other children their are much-needed attention. Sometimes this means we have to pull in friends and family to help us. And that's okay-we all need help sometimes. It's also could mean letting the other child go to a therapist to be able to explore their feelings about everything. It can be scary and confusing. They may not understand why their sibling acts the way they do at times.
Sometimes I've seen siblings that seem like they have it all together and never step out of line. This can be because the child has good support and is well adjusted but we need to make sure it's not because they feel unspoken pressure to not cause any problems. They still need to be having fun and be a kid.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!