The summer holidays are upon us and for those of us with children, it can be a challenging time. I call it the biggest juggling act of the year. How do I still work, run the house AND be a “fun mum” for six weeks while my son is off school? I want to plan outings, playdates and find ways to keep my son occupied without resorting to him spending hours on the Xbox (which incidentally he would be more than happy to do.) It’s a huge scheduling challenge, especially as my husband is away a lot with work.
I’ve come to realise there is a fourth criteria that I haven’t always addressed. How do I work, run the house, be “fun mum” and not push myself to the edge of exhaustion? We can be so concerned with making sure our kids have a great summer holiday that we neglect our own need for space and time to ourselves. And by that I mean doing something relaxing in that one hour of freedom – something that nourishes us – not going to Asda!!!
Take time for yourself
By ring-fencing some time to ourselves over the holidays to do something just for us we are not being selfish – we are replenishing our energy. You cannot withdraw from the bank all the time without putting some cash back in. If you do, the cash machine will end up eating your card and then you are in big trouble. Think of your body in the same way – the summer holidays require a lot of energy from us parents, so how do we top up our own energy? Here are my thoughts on how to get through the summer holidays with your sanity intact.
Work out when you are able to take time for yourself and have a list of activities to choose from.
These can range from doing a 5 minute meditation on your phone app to booking a massage. It’s good to have a mix of things that you can do at home easily as well as more organised events like a yoga class. Here’s some suggestions to start the ball rolling:
- Download a meditation app like Headspace or Calm (free versions are available) so you can do some meditation at home
- Read a good book
- Take a relaxing bath – and tell your family not to disturb you unless their hair is on fire (that’s what I do anyway)
- Sit quietly in the garden/park with your bare feet on the grass if you can. This helps you ground yourself.
- Practice mindfulness. Fully concentrating on the task in hand and the sounds and sensations that you are experiencing.
- Go for a nature walk.
- Restrict your time on your mobile. It can eat into time that we could spend relaxing, instead of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.
- Go to an exercise class.
- Book a massage, facial or even better – a reflexology treatment!😉
Just say NO!
It’s all too easy to overschedule ourselves and our kids to the point of madness. We all need time to relax and chill out. Kids need to be bored because that’s when creativity kicks in. Here are some thoughts on how to manage your summer diary.
- Look at your diary as a whole and block out some time when you and your family can chill out. If you don’t do this, then, before you know it, you end up scheduling something nearly every day.
- Playdates. If you find it stressful having kids come over to your house then suggest an outing instead. It could be a trip to the Kids Club cinema or a picnic in the woods, anything that means you don’t have to cook and tidy up afterwards!
- Offer reciprocal playdates with friends. It gives you both a chance to have some precious me-time. If you have more than one child, try and co-ordinate the playdates so you get a few hours off to rest, get your haircut, dream about Hugh Jackman – whatever gets you through!
- Involve your children in some relaxing activities (obviously this depends on the child’s age). Download a family friendly yoga video, go on a nature walk, do some colouring or reading together. You will all benefit!
- Treat yourselves to a pyjama day once in a while (although when I do this I always end up with an unexpected visitor calling and end up pretending I am sick with a previously unheard of strain of flu. “Overdoingit-itis” I believe it is called🤒)
- Don’t be afraid to turn down an invitation if you know it will be too much. We’ve all said yes to things we know we should have passed on. Don’t be a martyr to your child’s social diary! Spending quiet time at home as a family is just as valuable as the eleventy billionth trip to the cinema/park/farm.
Life is all about balance and the trick is learning what works for you and your family. In this busy world where we are seldom free from the demands of work and family, it is harder than ever to carve out precious time for ourselves and our loved ones. We have to make a conscious decision to prioritise ourselves and create our own boundaries. If we don’t create and protect those boundaries then how can we expect anyone else to respect them?
Children are children for such a short time, take it from someone whose son is about to start senior school! Where have the years gone? I want to spend the last summers of his childhood making precious memories together. So, here’s to a summer full of fun with a little bit of self care thrown into the mix.
Let the juggling commence!!