Top Ten Tips for Families to Stay Healthy and Happy at Home
The Public Health Children and Families team at Leeds City Council has been working with Active Leeds to develop a resource to share with families. The resource includes an activity pack with great ideas for fun things to do at home, together with an information leaflet which contains useful links, tips and phone numbers to help families stay healthy at home. The leaflet is now available here for downloading.
1/ Know what to do if your child becomes unwell
It can be so hard to know what action to take when your child is unwell – especially during lockdown. Do you stay at home, call your GP or visit A&E? If in doubt, refer to this quick and useful ‘traffic light’ guide produced by doctors from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
2/ Your NHS is still here for you
Your GP is still here to help if you or your family have health worries. For information on your child’s development or issues like sleep routines and toilet training, the 0-19 Public Health Integrated Nursing Service is still offering a service. Visit the website or call 0113 8435683 to talk to a public health nurse. Or if you’re aged 11-19, you can text a nurse from Chat Health on 07520 619 750 for confidential support on a range of health issues.
There’s nothing like cleaning half a tub of nappy cream off the laptop or scooping 5 million balls of polystyrene back into a bean bag to remind you it’s time to renew your contraception! Your GP or clinic can offer a consultation to discuss contraception options and advise how to collect prescriptions. It’s really important to attend vaccination appointments for your little one when they’re due – that way, you can keep your family safe from other illnesses in future too.
3/New to family life? Here’s what you need to know
If all this is new to you, there’s a lot to take in! The Leeds Baby Buddy app is a great place to start – it’s designed to guide you through pregnancy and the first six months of your baby’s life. Some pregnant women in Leeds are sharing how they’re feeling and the things they’ve found helpful at https://nestleeds.co.uk. You can still get all the help you need during pregnancy and with your new baby from your midwife and health visitor too.
Breastfeeding support is still available. Contact the infant feeding midwives on 0113 2065367, your health visitor on 0113 8435683, or for peer support you can text or call Cath on 0784 333 9574 or Suzanne on 0795 6077800. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Mindwell has produced this useful guide on how to access support with your mental health when you’re pregnant.
4/ We like to move it, move it…
We all feel better when we get moving. Being active is essential for mental wellbeing, good physical development, more effective learning and better health. Going out to cycle, walk or run as a family is a really positive way to spend time together. But if it’s difficult to get to green space near your home, there’s loads of ideas to get the kids moving (and parents can join in too). After all, there’ll still be rainy days when this is over…
Active Leeds has developed two brilliant resources. For under-8s there’s Ready Set Rainbow; and for over 8’s there’s Get Active, Stay Active, both making the most of everyday objects and kids’ imaginations for getting active at home. Yorkshire Sport Foundation offers lots of resources for school-age kids, including #ThisIsPE, which features PE lessons taught by local teachers. Change4Life’s Active Imaginations resource for under-fives contains fun ideas and videos featuring local families. Or check out the 50 Things to Do Before You’re 5 app, which has been given a local lockdown-makeover. For groovers of any age (including grown-ups!), why not try free dance classes with DAZL? If you want some time away from screens, set up an obstacle course in your living room and challenge your children to a race, chalk out a hopscotch trail outside the front door, or set up a skip-off for the whole family.
5/ Be kind to yourself
Most of us have experienced moments of low mood, anxiety and stress during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s only natural to feel this way at times – a survey by the Office of National Statistics showed 4 in 5 of us are worried about the impact of coronavirus on our lives. Whenever possible we need to recharge batteries and look after our mental wellbeing. Mindwell is a user-friendly website that has resources, videos and the latest information to help people in Leeds take care of their mental health. Or Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters features relaxation audio guides, sleep tips and NHS-recommended helplines. There’s also a really useful section on supporting children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
6/ Seek support when you need it
Sometimes things can feel very overwhelming and we just need some help. If you’d like support with getting food or medication because you’re self-isolating, or you need to access emergency food, call the citywide helpline on 0113 376 0330, from 9am-5pm every day, or leave a voicemail any time. You’ll be matched with a local volunteer who can help.
For support with accessing benefits or emergency childcare, or to find out about payments for people who are self-isolating, see: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus.
If you are grieving because of a bereavement, the Leeds Bereavement Forum can help link you up with support services. Specialist bereavement support for children is also available through Child Bereavement UK Leeds on 01133 503598, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MindMate is a trusted Leeds-based website for children, young people and their families. It can help you explore emotional wellbeing and mental health issues, and also to access support. Another option for young people is Kooth, offering free, safe and anonymous online support. If you’re feeling desperate, the Leeds crisis card can help you work out where to go for help.
7/ Take action if home doesn’t feel safe
It’s difficult to even think about being happy, or healthy, if you don’t feel safe at home. Leeds Domestic Violence Service is open to all genders and offers a 24 hour helpline (0113 246 0401) or a webchat service which can be accessed through their website. Children and young people worried about their safety can call Childline’s 24-hour helpline on 0800 1111. Keeping little ones safe at home all the time can be a challenge even when family life is running smoothly. For tips on managing everyday hazards like blind cords, nappy sacks and matches, see the Child Accident Prevention Trust or Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents websites.
8/ Keep up the good work
Being in lockdown can feel a little like Groundhog Day. But keeping to a routine really supports good health. Some parents say it’s hard to remember teeth-cleaning without the usual daily reminders of ‘we’ll be late for school!’ For top tips, check out the Leeds Smiles website. Keeping to regular bedtimes and sitting down to eat meals together also helps with family harmony. The HENRY website offers lots of ideas for families to develop healthy routines and positive ways of connecting with each other. One favourite is the collective reward system, where all the family can ‘reward’ each other. Or how about starting a ‘memory jar’, and putting in your family memories of positive times in lockdown? It could be something to look back at together on days when you’re feeling low.
9/ Eat well this winter
Emergency food is available for all families via the Leeds City Council helpline: 0113 376 0330. If you claim certain benefits and are pregnant or have a child under 4, you can access free vitamins and food through Healthy Start. From the age of one, children and adults are advised to take a Vitamin D supplement, especially in winter. Speaking of winter, it’s really tempting to keep raiding the cupboard during these long, cold months – but if you’re snacking your way through lockdown, why not try swapping fatty and sugary foods for something just as yummy and healthier too? There’s some great ideas for food swaps on Change4Life.
10/ Stay connected – with school, family and friends
Video calls are one of the best ways to stay connected with family and friends – but the demands of home learning in Lockdown 3.0 are also greater than in the first lockdown, putting more pressure on digital devices. If you need to borrow a digital device like a tablet or laptop, contact your child’s school to see if there is a lending scheme. You can also contact a local community group, or your nearest Children’s Centre, for support with accessing the 100% Digital Leeds tablet lending scheme. Through a new Government scheme, you can also request more mobile data via your child’s school if you don’t have broadband at home and can’t afford the data needed for home learning. If your child is struggling with home learning, contact their teacher to talk through different approaches.
And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, Mindwell has produced this useful guide on how to access support with your mental health when you’re pregnant.
Read our ultimate Guidance, activities and creative ideas for families during COVID-19 here >
Stay active at home with the family by taking part in some fun activities here >