How are you coping in lockdown?
7 weeks in now and like many, we’re beginning to get itchy feet! As a parent of 2 young children (aged 7 and 4) we’ve had to keep a routine in order to provide some element of ‘normality’ to our days and ensure our children achieve some learning in their day, but also to keep everyone calm, content and happy.
Of course we have good days and bad days and I don’t pretend by any means to have all the answers, but I am proud that we have found a routine that what works best for us and has had a positive impact on the mental wellbeing of all of us.
Every family and every child are different and it’s important that everyone finds the balance that’s right for them but one thing that I’m convinced of, that is universal for all of us, is how essential it is to keep little ones active and exercised. Apart from the obvious need to burn off excess energy, I believe it goes much deeper than that in really helping to maintain good mental health.
After a ‘challenging’ day of homeschooling I took myself off for a run. As I ran through the beautiful woodland near us (for which I’m so grateful!!), I could physically feel the fog lifting. Spring fresh and lush, the greenery seemed to clear my head, lungs, body. I could almost feel the oxygen rushing through. I felt cleaner and could instantly think more clearly.
Creativity seemed to be ignited and I started thinking through new choreographic ideas for exercises and new material. I felt like I was seeing things with such clarity. Suddenly a thought occurred to me … if we feel like we’re climbing the walls, imagine what children feel like. They are used to running round the playground at school or pre-school, PE, forest school, extra curricular activities; swimming, drama, football, tennis, dance. Since lockdown all that has stopped.
Lots of friends have recently commented that their children are not sleeping well during lockdown. Little ones are often are still lying awake at 11pm when the adults go up to bed. Disturbed nights are becoming more frequent. They definitely put it down to lack of exercise in the day … not getting their usual ‘run around’.
It’s therefore essential that we as parents strive to find resources to ‘exercise’ our children; they need an outlet, some form of exercise in their day, to help them burn off excess energy, but also to help their brains work better!
Exercise helps to give our children clarity, to keep them creative, to help them sleep, to help them grow. Overall this will help keep them motivated, reduce boredom and ultimately help to keep them happier, calmer and more well balanced.
Dance is an amazing form of exercise as it works both the body and the brain. Whether you are 2, 22 or 82, there is no doubt that dance is great for cardiovascular health. Dance physically moves your body, raising your heart rate, pumping more oxygenated blood to your brain and muscles, as well as increasing stamina, strengthening bones and muscles and boosting the immune system. But crucially it also works the brain!
At any age, dance requires not just physical but mental and emotional skills. The connection between the way you move and the way you feel promotes self awareness, creativity and self esteem; whether in a class full of others or at home in isolation. By having to concentrate on copying the movement, listening to the instruction and then having to transfer it kinaesthetically into physical movement, it becomes a multi-tasking activity that improves overall brain function and boosts memory. How exciting to consider that all this is happening when children dance; their overall development thus being so enhanced!
Dance also has the added bonus of releasing ‘endorphins’- the happy hormone, due to tapping into the instinctive power of natural movement to music. There is nothing like watching a young child or toddler just naturally move to music without any instruction! Let instinct take over and watch the creativity begin! As they get older and learning increases, they become equipped with moves and steps and then it gets really exciting! And what better time to try out this theory … at home without any inhibitions or distractions of others!
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m a huge fan and advocate of dance and all that it can bring to a person! The benefits that dance can bring to children right now, in this time of lockdown is huge. It keeps them exercised but also mentally balanced, calm, happy and educated. I’m overjoyed that we’ve been able to get our classes out there and online during this period and I’m thrilled just how many youngsters are enjoying them. You never know, it may be the start of a very exciting new Tot Bop service!
To find out more about our online classes or to book a class, please visit our ‘Online Members Area’ page here: https://totbop.co.uk/online-members-area/.