** this blog post follows on from my previous one “Stressed out By Summer“.
We are in the deepest darkest throws of summer vacation in my house. Mum (me) and Dad (devoted husband) are juggling work, home responsibilities and fun summer activities, whilst trying to limit screen time and scream time, and make sure we are still talking to each other and our kids at the end of every day!
In addition to all the “fun stuff” we try and do during this time, I also schedule the important annual family appointments of which there are three main ones: shopping for school supplies for next year, dentist visit and eye doctor visit. With five children to take to each of these places, I have learnt through trial and error, AND integrating yoga principles into my daily life, what works for me and my family, so that we ALL keep our sanity. If I can help other mums survive these trips, then my summer madness would not have be in vain.
As a regular practitioner and teacher of Yoga Nashit, I firmly believe that yoga should not stay in the studio. I have learnt that by integrating as many principles of Yoga Nashit into my daily life, I am able to gain a better perspective of how to manage demanding situations. Being human, this is a constant work in progress. Sometimes I stay calm, breathe deeply, stay focused on the small task ahead of me and things work out the way I planned. Sometimes I can’t cope with the situation, get stressed out, forget my basic yoga principles and never want to see my kids again! But through regular self check-ins, patience and preparation, I am slowly learning how to have more calm days then crazy days!
Know Your Limits 1 – divide and conquer:
Whenever possible, DON’T take ALL your kids to run important errands. This year I decided to take my three younger kids to shop for school supplies separately to their two older sisters. This way I could focus on their specific needs, and any way at this stage my two big kids really just need me to pay the bill at check-out!
However, I am taking all five kids to the eye doctor appointment. I know that this is going to take a whole morning, and I will definitely want to kill myself by the end of it! I also know that my kids will get bored and cranky having to wait their turn. So I need to be prepared – emotionally (what are my expectations from myself and my kids) and physically (food supplies, screens, games etc). I also know that by the end of the visit we will all need to be rewarded for surviving the experience – and so a trip to the ice cream story before lunch will have to be ok!
Know Your Limits 2 – ask for help:
This year I did things different when shopping for school supplies. Son aged 11 was made responsible for his gathering his own supplies – with list in one hand and basket in the other, he was left to go and get everything he needed by himself. He loved it! Daughter aged 9 was assigned a personal assistant! There are all these teenage shop assistance standing around waiting to earn their tip and I decided to make one young girl earn hers! My daughter felt so special having her own personal shopper while I looked on, calmly, from the side. Son aged 5 spent most of the time choosing expensive presents that I was never going to buy for him, but he did come away with an Avengers back-pack for kindergarten, a new water bottle and a ball so he was happy too! I reduced my stress levels by asking for help and letting the kids get involved. This way they felt empowered and in control, and we came home without any shouting, tears or punishments!
Be clear on your expectations:
There is a famous quote that says “Stress is the gap between expectations and reality”. This is very profound and extremely insightful for those of us (yes ME!) who get stressed out easily or crave controlling a situation. We create our own stress levels when we have expectations of the way something SHOULD be verse the way it REALLY is! By changing our expectations of a situation, we can almost always eliminate the stress that usually occurs. Of course, this is easier said than done and requires a lot of work on our part as the responsible parent!
So in theory, if you are able to be realistic about a situation – especially during the summer when you are juggling so much – and reduce your expectations of how you wish the situation would be (for example, zero screen time in a 24 hr period!), you can actively reduce the gap between expectations and reality and therefore reduce your stress level. Start small, try it out for just one activity. Have clear and small expectations of yourself and your kids, and see how you all respond.
As I have said before, most importantly is to take one day at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking too far in advance, be present in the moment. At the same time, check your schedule at the beginning of every week so that you are prepared for what lies ahead (ONE WEEK at a time). If you know you have a few crazy days coming up, give yourself and your family some down time too. That way you will be able to manage the summer madness just a little bit better