Transcript for
Try to look after yourself – episode one

Runtime 00:14:51
Released 25/6/20

Narrator [00:00:02] Welcome to the Emerging Minds podcast.

Drew Radford [00:00:06] This podcast is part of a series called Supporting Children Through Drought.

Hello, I’m Drew Radford. And in this first episode will focus on looking after yourself so you can look after your children. We’re going to explore this topic by speaking to parents who live and work in remote locations about their experiences. And also, we’re going to get some advice from mental health professionals. Parents play a vital role for children in times of drought. Your capacity to cope during drought impacts on your child’s response to stress and their well-being during and after the event. Self-care is vital. So it’s important that you seek out any help you need so you’re better able to support your kids. Let’s start this episode with Amy, who’s from a station north west of Roxby Downs and what she does to look after herself.

Amy [00:01:02] Just talk to your friends, connect. Cause I found myself, because I’ve been through after having Indiana, I got postnatal depression. So after having that, the isolation really gets to you, and is just making the effort as hard as it is to go out there, go out and connect with other family members and other mums and things like that out there. Because isolation is what brings everyone down. So, yeah, we just got to do our best to get out as much as we find it hard or it might be financially difficult at times. We’ve got to try and find a way of getting out and being around other families.

Drew Radford [00:01:36] Thanks, Amy. That’s much appreciated. Amy has been very honest about what she’s been through with postnatal depression and the need for self-care. To talk about that in more detail. I’m joined in the Emerging Mind studio by Dr Andrea Baldwin. She is senior psychologist and service development leader at the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health. Andrea, thanks for your time. Why is it important for parents to understand the need for self-care as part of supporting their children?

Dr Andrea Baldwin [00:02:08] Well, Drew, as parents, we tend to think the children come first. And as caring people, we’re sort of trained that the right thing, the moral thing to do is to put other people’s needs before our own. But there’s no point being a martyr or burning out and finding yourself sort of resenting the demands of the kids or other people because you just don’t have anything left to give. Amy mentioned postnatal depression. Now, it’s great that the community is beginning to understand more about depression. It’s not weakness. It’s not feeling sorry for yourself. It’s not something you can just snap out of. It might be worth thinking of the brain and body as being physical like soil. So if it rains or if it doesn’t rain, if the soil gets ploughed or fertilised or sprayed or eroded, all of those environmental forces affect what the soil can do. So changes and challenges in our environment physically affect our body and brain. It’s like soil. So during stressful times like drought, expectant and new parents need extra support and care. And actually, we all do. And some of that is self-care. So knowing how to take care of yourself, how to monitor your own mood and wellbeing and seek help, get help if you are if you are struggling as a rural person myself. I know our first instinct is always to say ‘I’m all right. I’ve got it easy compared with my parents or my grandparents, Joe down from the road needs the help more’. We tend not to ask for help and sometimes will refuse it when it’s offered. And we don’t even realise that that’s not in anyone’s best interest and especially our kids. Or you can think of yourself as a bucket of water where your water is your positive energy. And if you’re always pouring out, watering others and taking care of them, you’re going to run out of that energy and positivity and then there’ll be nothing left for you or anyone else, including the kids. So it’s important to find ways to fill the bucket so you can overflow and provide for others without emptying yourself out.

[00:04:02] For the blokes you might want to think about farm machinery. So if my dad didn’t maintain his tractors and its vehicles and all the gear it would break down, he wouldn’t be able to farm. So we have to put the regular time and effort into maintaining ourselves physically and emotionally so we can do the work of raising happy, healthy kids. Now, those ways of filling the bucket or maintaining the machinery that don’t have to be big or fancy or take a lot of money, they can be quite small, but they need to be often at least something every day. So it might be something as simple as paying attention to small things that make you feel happy or grateful or laugh, maybe seeing a bird or a flower, enjoying dinner or something one of the kids has done. And it might be taking a little bit of regular me time to do something you enjoy. So whether that’s reading or craft would work music, another hobby, connecting with others is really important. Just an email, a phone chat with a friend or relative. Or some kind of regular social group, whether that’s in person or online. Because if you can find enough sustenance to stay calm and cheerful and emotionally available, able to think clearly, able to solve problems. That is the best thing you can do in difficult times for your kids and for other people. They’ll be able to look to you for reassurance and comfort when they need it, because you’ll have enough to go around.

Drew Radford [00:05:19] Psychologist Dr Andrea Baldwin, thanks for those insights and your time in joining us in the Emerging Mind studio. We’re going to turn our attention now to slightly older children. Melinda is from a station in the Flinders Ranges. And when it comes to looking after herself, she keeps it simple.

Melinda [00:05:38] Well lately a phone call with a friend and a , you know, a chat tends to be probably a bit more normal than the massage these days. But, yeah, that’s fine if you just find a bit of a time where I’m lucky it’s a nice place to go for a walk. So, funnily enough, I like a podcast and a walk, too. So if that’s all I can get, then that’s I’m happy with that. Obviously for us, social isolating is probably not a new thing. Some people don’t get to see anybody for weeks and weeks, but fortunately we’re close enough that we during the winter months, my daughter and my boys, before they went away to school, played sport in the Northern Areas Football League. So that was probably both my sisters live down in Orroroo. So seeing them every weekend is probably something that we’re not doing at the moment. Even though we’re not far up each other. We’ve been very good and kept that social distance. So probably at this stage missing my family. That’s probably the biggest thing in terms of how it’s affected my downtime and my time for myself, I suppose.

Drew Radford [00:06:35] Thanks, Belinda. Joining me in the Emerging Mind studio is John Dean, who is senior psychologists and district clinical leader with New South Wales Health School Link and Got it! Programmes. John, thanks for your time. Firstly, how important is it for parents to look after themselves?

John Dean [00:06:54] Yeah. Drew, it’s really important to be looking after yourself first. It’s a bit like that old analogy of, you know, if you’re flying in an aeroplane, I tell you, if the oxygen masks drop down, put it on yourself first. So then you can help those around you cleaning your kids. So looking after yourself first is really important. Belinda’s mentioned a few really good ways of taking some time out for yourself. Things like massage and that sort of thing. And that’s a good way of looking after yourself. But unfortunately, in times like this, that’s not so readily available and may not be available due to drought and loss of finances and so forth. So we have to find other ways of looking after ourselves. We need to, I guess, find ways to deal with our own big emotions, as we call them, as they come up for ourselves. And in doing that, there’s nothing wrong with talking about that and modelling that to kids because they need to be able to learn to do that as well. So to have that conversation out loud, you know, I’m feeling a bit angry about so-and-so today. I I’m to take myself for a bit of a walk till I feel a bit better. Sharing that sort of thing with your kids can help them develop those types of strategies to manage their own emotions. The way that children might manage their emotions might differ in some ways they need to see their parents actually having a go at that. Yeah, things like sport and other diversions have always been a good way of managing the stress around drought situations. I can remember that was particularly important for me when I was a bit younger and farming and we had droughts, that the sport was really important way of getting together, being with others, feeling like you were dealing with something together. You went on your own. It’s also important, I think, even within families, to make sure no one’s left behind. So people deal with these things in different ways. So even within families, different children, or perhaps your partner will deal with things in different ways. So acknowledging that and making sure that they know that you’re understanding what’s going on for them and you’re there for them. But I think that goes out to the wider community as well, because others might handle things in different ways. And I think you will see if people are perhaps not doing the things they would have normally done, and you can reach out and ask them if they’re okay.

Drew Radford [00:09:38] John, that’s got a new level of complexity against it now due to COVID-19. So sport may not be the outlet that it once was.

John Dean [00:09:50] That’s right. True things are quite different at the moment, hopefully we’ll get back towards sport and so forth. But there are other activities even a family can do together. If you’re able to, you can get out and get a ride together. You can go for a walk together, you can kick the footy amongst yourselves. At least you’re getting some activity and you’re doing something together. You can have a virtual link up with other contacts of other families you know, and you can look at how you can do things together in some way. It might be sharing some music, that sort of thing.

Drew Radford [00:10:29] John, that point you raised about being together to look after yourself is something that actually came up with another parent who I spoke to, Jane. Here’s what she had to say.

Jane [00:10:40] And also communication too. We make a big point. We all eat our evening meal together. Even if it is after dark sometimes, depending on what’s going on. But we find that’s a really good avenue to even if we are talking about business or whatever. But it’s a good avenue that we’re all sitting down talking together as such.

Drew Radford [00:10:59] John, how important is it getting the family together to look after yourself?

John Dean [00:11:04] Well, the strategy of Jane, of getting the family together to eat a meal is something that is a benefit for all families, really. And giving family members the opportunity just to talk about their day. To talk about the sorts of things that might be of interest to them, which may not be related to farming in drought and so forth, but to focus in on what’s interesting for each member of the family, really. It’s also part of just creating a bit of a tradition for the family. I think that’s really important. So you might become a traditional thing that a family does to sit down and have the evening meal together. So that’s a place that people can rely on, where they can have a chat. It might be other things that become family traditions, like how they celebrate birthdays. They might have a special a special mail once a week. They might have a bit of an outing once a week or once a fortnight. Those things become important because they’re things that kids and others in the family can rely on as an opportunity to have a chat. And sometimes it’s not a bad idea when you create those sorts of spaces to have a chat about some easy topics first. So for kids, freshly as they get a little bit older, just gossiping about their friends and what their friends are doing can be an easy place to start. Might be about talking about extended members of the family and what they’re up to. And then you might look at broader topics about what’s happening in the world, things that are fairly safe to engage Iran first up and then have family members that feel a bit safer about having those discussions. Well, you might head in to talking about some of the more serious topics and hopefully without the kids sort of fearing that they’re going to be criticised for what they say. So something that’s important for your child, you know, should be important for you, really.

Drew Radford [00:13:14] Psychologist John Dean, thank you for your time today. And joining me in the Emerging Mind studio to focus on that very important topic of looking after yourself so you can look after your children.

John Dean [00:13:25] Thank you, Drew. My pleasure.

Narrator [00:13:30] If this podcast brings up any difficult emotions for you, please reach out to someone you can talk to or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Beyondblue support service on 1300 22 4636 at any time.

Drew Radford [00:13:48] Thank you for joining us for our Supporting Children Through Drought podcast series, this podcast series has been made possible by funding from country South Australia Primary Health Network, ending collaboration with parents from Isolated Children’s Parents Association SA Branch, Remote Isolated Children’s Exercise, Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health in Children’s Health, Queensland Hospital and Health Service and School Link and Got It Programmes and New South Wales Health Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Narrator [00:14:29] Brought to you by the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, led by Emerging Minds. The National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Programme. Visit our website at

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