The great outdoors and a lot of CARE
“We think mental health and wellbeing are so important and approach this topic quite openly with the boys."
One year ago carers Cara and Craig helped two brothers transition from a MyLaunchpad house into their care full time on their farm.
Cara and Craig love the great outdoors, so when the boys came into their care, outdoor activities became a feature of their lives.
“When the boys moved into the house, they were reluctant to go outdoors and struggled to go for short walks without challenging behaviours,” said Cara.
Since then they have seen the boys grow strong developmentally and comfortably settle into their new way of life, which includes learning about alpacas and befriending the family dogs, hiking every weekend , playing with the next-door neighbours , riding bikes, and building a treehouse on the farm.
Through Cara and Craig creating a caring and loving home where both boys feel supported, they have gone from strength-to-strength. They’ve especially improved at school, particularly in their reading and writing.
To re-establish the boys’ sense of wellbeing, the couple attribute implementing the principles of CARE into their daily routines as key to their success in enhancing the boys’ wellbeing.
This practise has seen the boys strengthen their coping skills at home and in school. The boys’ school even reports on how one brother can now identify his triggers and uses his breathing technique to help him manage situations that he finds challenging.
Through these principles, Cara and Craig show ‘the importance of caring’ by promoting healthy attachments and by providing a secure safe environment. Cara and Craig also place heavy focus on co-regulation and building self-regulation skills, teaching the boys ways of managing their emotions and improving their overall wellbeing.
“We think mental health and wellbeing are so important and approach this topic quite openly with the boys,” said Cara.
“One way we do this is by talking to them on a regular basis about how they are feeling, especially if we notice that something is not right. "
“Making sure there is plenty of time for these conversations during dinner time each night (without technology) to talk about our days and check in on how everyone is feeling has been key.”
Cara and Craig acknowledge that investing so much time and energy on the boys can take its toll and believe that it is important to balance their own mental health and wellbeing.
“Being carers is extremely rewarding and joyful but can be overwhelming emotionally,” said Cara.
“So, to ensure we maintain our wellbeing equally as much as the boys, Craig spends ‘time-out’ in his workshop or goes on a solo hike. I find a social outlet and a chat over a cup of tea with a friend is the best cure.
“We take turns doing pickups, cooking dinner – sharing the responsibilities helps to keep us both in-check too.”
Cara and Craig put the needs of the boys above their own and are always looking to develop and learn new skills to provide the best care possible. This approach has seen everyone, including their care team, observe dramatic positive changes in both boys in such short time.
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I couldn’t change the past, but I could provide safe opportunities to experience the wonders of childhood.