Keeping calm and carrying on for mental health

Woman sitting alone, deep in thought, having coffee and holding her mobile phoneAt work, in our kitchen, is a poster with words of inspiration – apparently. I however, have tried to purposefully avoid reading it, until the other day when I sat down for a meeting and it was right in front of me.

I am not sure what to think about this wall art.  Honestly, I find these messages unrealistic.  I also think they create pressure for us to be perfect.

For instance the poster in our kitchen recites 26 messages, some saying:

  • Fall in Love
  • Learn More
  • Be Creative
  • Follow Your Dreams
  • Smile Often
  • Live For Today
  • Make Every Moment Count, and so on.

Wow, I think to myself, what a list. Who can do all this? What if a person is having a bad day; do they ignore this art? Is this supposed to elevate their mood? Motivate them? Life isn’t always easy! Is this good for mental health?

We know Perinatal Mood Disorder affects between 12 and 24% of women during pregnancy and up to 13% of new mothers after having a baby. It even affects men, with 10% of new dads experiencing paternal postpartum depression (50% when mom is depressed).

Public Health Ontario (PHO) reports that approximately 12% of adults aged 20 to 64 have reported a mood or anxiety disorder in Ontario. However, PHO also states approximately 77% of adults report positive mental health.  This is good news and indicates the majority are coping well.

I do wonder though, if we put pressure on ourselves to always be happy and productive. Signage, like the one in my office kitchen, may not always be so helpful for some people.

Jennifer giving the thumbs-up sign in front of her Keep Calm and Carry on posterNow, I must confess, I have a sign on my wall.  As stated on-line by Wikipedia, Keep Calm and Carry On “was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public, threatened with widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities”.  I like this poster’s simple message.   I quote it all the time to my daughter as she tackles life’s ups and downs.  In fact, the other day when I was stressed about something she said to me “Mom. Just Keep Calm and Carry On”. I must admit I was impressed and looked her in the eye and smiled.

If you think you are experiencing difficulty managing your stress or with coping, contact your health care provider.  For more information on mental health and mental illness, see the Canadian Mental Health Association webpage.

Do you have a saying that you appreciate during life’s ups and downs? Share with us:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest blogger:

Jennifer Jenkins-Scott: I have been a health professional for 34 years, but more importantly a mother for the last 16. When I am not ‘on-the-job’, I can be found at Mohawk College working towards my certificate in Interior Decorating, on the bike trails, in the gym, skiing, crafting, entertaining or at home either reading a good book or binge watching Netflix.

Posted in Babies, Depression & Anxiety After Birth, Depression & Anxiety During Pregnancy, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What you need to know for school zone safety

displeased stressed female car driver

I am a rule follower. Ask anyone who knows me. Rules bring order to life. When everyone follows the rules then things run more smoothly. Simple, right?

This is probably why my attempts to drop my children off in the designated school drop off zone result in feelings of anger, frustration and sky-rocketing blood pressure all before my day has really begun. The rules are not being followed.

More than 100,000 students attend school in Halton Region. That is a lot of school buses, parent drop-offs and kids walking to school. From what I have seen in the school zone, I know there is a real need for behaviour change. Lives depend on it.

We are adults. We need to follow the rules.

But how? 

When driving in a school zone; either around the school or in the designated school drop-off you must:

  • Obey speed limits in school zones.
  • Know the rules. Every year, our local school sends out a communication outlining the protocol for school drop-off. Take time to review it before the first day.
  • Be considerate. If your child is too young to get out of the car independently at the kiss and ride then pull into designated parking and help them safely to the gate. School Crossing sign
  • Be aware. Distracted driving is not just texting. It’s changing a radio station, fixing your make-up or handing your child a snack while behind the wheel of a vehicle. It’s anytime you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or your mind off the primary task of driving safely. It puts you and others at risk.
  • Educate. Teach your kids to be aware and to cross at the crosswalks. Remind them to always stop and make eye contact to ensure the driver can see them before they continue. Use designated crosswalks with a crossing guard when possible.
  • Give yourself time. Leave earlier – that extra 5 minutes not only gets you there ahead of the masses, but it will decrease your stress and your speed.
  • Remember you are the adult. Role model patience, follow the rules, know that everyone else has somewhere to go too. Resist the temptation to veer out of line – wait your turn.

You could also do what I did. I set up a buddy system in my neighbourhood and my kids walk with their peers to school. Exercise and social time for them; decreased frustration and worry for me. I’d call that win/win.

Do you have any tips or thoughts on this? Please share with us! We love to learn.

For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

Posted in Keeping Your Child/Tween Safe, Keeping Your Teen Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Teens and screens: the science you need to know

Teen girl on bed, looking at cell phone with headphones on while doing homeworkOver the last few decades, devices have become such a large part of our lives and one thing we can be sure of – they’re not going away.  64% of Ontario youth “spend three hours or more per day of screen time in their free time”.

There’s a lot of talk in the media about screen-time changing our children’s brains and affecting their health. So is there really any basis to screen-time being harmful?  I decided to investigate the science behind what happens in our kids’ brains and bodies when they try to meet the high demands of their devices. Continue reading

Posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Keeping Your Child/Tween Safe, Keeping Your Teen Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Teen Brain, Teens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How to get your teens moving: Hoodwink or clever parenting?

Think about how much you and your kids are active in relation to how much you sit.  Humans were not made to sit, they were made to move. Muscles need to be worked, blood needs to be circulated, lungs challenged and bones to bear weight.

Girl walking with dog in nature.

Being active is the single best prescription a doctor could give.  It guards against chronic disease, elevates mood and keeps the body operating like a finely tuned machine. Continue reading

Posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Keeping Your Child/Tween Safe, Keeping Your Teen Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Teens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 awesome things I discovered about being a divorced parent

Mother, daughter and dog relaxed at homeQuite often we hear about how hard it is to be a divorced parent, and it can be, but there are perks too!

When I think back to when my daughter and I were on our own, I have very fond memories.  This is before I married my current husband, so she was between 18 months to seven years old.

Here are 5 AWESOME things I discovered along the way:

  1. I remember enjoying her all to myself, just the two of us, for several days in a row.
  2. I made all the decisions in the house. No one else to check-in with (except of course, my daughter) about what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go.
  3. After a long work week, she and I started a Friday tradition of pizza and movie night. We would spend time in the movie-rental store (I’m dating myself now!) looking for the right movie to rent.  I was able to watch the entire collection of Disney princess movies while snuggled up with her.
  4. Every night, in the middle of the night, she would make her way into my room and crawl into my bed. I pretended to be asleep, but she would fill the empty space beside me and wrap her small arm around my side.
  5. In an effort to help her with learning the joys of reading, I read the entire Spiderwick Chronicles to her, in an English accent (just to add effect). We had a goal of finishing the book before the movie was in theatres. She and I then went to the movie and talked about whether it was true to the book. She still has the book in her collection, despite the shedding of many other childhood books.

These precious moments allowed me to create love and security for my daughter. Today, she is a teenager and it is hard to get her attention. This is normal and what I would expect. But the strong and loving relationship which was built in her childhood, created a young lady who feels comfortable in her own skin, yet knows she can always find support without judgement from her mom.  I will always cherish these memories of just the two of us alone, but always together.

Share with us some of the awesome things you’ve discovered about being a divorced parent!

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest blogger:

Jennifer Jenkins-Scott: I have been a health professional for 34 years, but more importantly a mother for the last 16. When I am not ‘on-the-job’, I can be found at Mohawk College working towards my certificate in Interior Decorating, on the bike trails, in the gym, skiing, crafting, entertaining or at home either reading a good book or binge watching Netflix.

Posted in Babies, Children & Tweens, Parenting, Parenting Your Baby, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Teens, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It is possible! Tips for traveling with kids who have special needs

Cute little kid boy with suitcase on international airport. Mother and daughter on background, happy family waiting for flight and going on vacations.With the school break coming up fast, many families are preparing to travel. When you have a child with special needs, or even a child who struggles with transitions, you know there’s more to consider than just packing clothes for everyone. We connected with child development professional, Bev Legare, about the best tips for traveling with a child who has special needs. Bev has spent hours and hours with families helping them plan their family travels and vacations.

Here are the best travel tips she has learned along the way: Continue reading

Posted in Babies, Babies with Special Needs, Children & Tweens, Children & Tweens with Special Needs, Keeping Your Child/Tween Safe, Keeping Your Toddler & Preschooler Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Baby, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Teens, Teens With Special Needs, Toddlers & Preschoolers, Toddlers & Preschoolers with Special Needs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to be your child’s best advocate

Concerned couple with child talking to a professional

You think your child is unwell or may have a developmental delay, or a learning disability – but you’re having difficulty navigating the system to get a diagnosis and a plan. You’re feeling frustrated, worried and scared. Continue reading

Posted in Babies, Babies with Special Needs, Children & Tweens, Children & Tweens with Special Needs, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Parenting, Parenting Your Baby, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development, Play, Growth & Development for Babies, Pregnancy, Prenatal Health, Preparing for Kindergarten, Teens, Teens With Special Needs, Toddlers & Preschoolers, Toddlers & Preschoolers with Special Needs, Transition to High School | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment