“School’s out for Summer” – do those words fill you with dread?
As a married, working mum of five, deep in the journey of establishing my own Yoga business and holding down a second job at the same time, summer is always going to be a stressful time. The time when routine gets thrown out the window, when kids always seem to be home, and you anticipate spending quality time together.
So you try to stay calm while getting ready for an afternoon at the beach or pool, limiting screen time (5 hours isn’t too much is it?), knowing that at some point you will lose your cool, probably when your child spills ice cream all over your car on the drive home!
Most mums try to experience the summer with as few traumas as possible and as many happy memories as they can buy, wanting to give their kids that perfect magical summer experience. But by the time Sept 1 rolls around and that school bell rings, you are filled with regret and sorrow over all the “should haves” and “could haves”, the tears and tantrums, the shouting and all those big expectations unfulfilled.
So how can you experience the summer in a different way. How can you and your kids enjoy the summer closer to the dreams and expectations you have on 1st July. Here are a few of my recommendations, based on tools and principles I have learnt from my own Yoga study and practice.
Disclaimer: All have been tried and tested by me! Sometimes I do better and sometimes I do worse. Sometimes I put my kids to bed at the end of the day knowing we all did well. And sometimes the only thing I can do is bite my tongue so hard, so that I don’t scream at them. The more you work at it, the easier it will become. But there are always going to be bad days… that’s just the way life is. The question is what lesson do you take with you from that experience!
1. First and most importantly – Give time to yourself over the summer. This is VERY hard with the lack of routine, but try to find small pieces of time to do something for yourself. However small the gesture is, it will make a big difference to your state of mind!
2. Be fully present when you decide to take your kids somewhere. It doesn’t matter whether you are going bowling, to the pool, beach or park. But once you have decided to invest in taking your kids out, make sure you are present in the moment. Forget about the long to-do list waiting for you and enjoy seeing your kids faces as they have this summer experience.
3. Adapt Expectations. Expectations are the difference between the way things are in reality and the way you want or imagine them to be. This gap is a major stress trigger in life in general, but particularly in the summer. Mums need to be realistic about what to expect from their kids – and themselves! – during vacation time. This means we need to let go of expectations that may not be realistic on any given day. This doesn’t mean there is a free-for-all at home, but you need to understand your children’s’ and your own emotional and mental state depending on what has happened that day.
4. Breathe before you walk into the house. We tend to rush from errand to errand, rushing to collect kids, rushing in and out of the house to make meetings and appointments. Give yourself 30 seconds to breathe deep before you leave the car every time. You will find that this moment of calm will help to focus you and prepare you for the next thing on your agenda.
5. Children (and many adults) thrive on routine. The lack of routine during the summer vacation is often a trigger for erratic and unexpected behavior. It makes it harder to plan or predict how your kids will respond to events, and we all end up feeling off-balance and less grounded. With this awareness, try and create stability through regular and familiar activities throughout the day/week. The familiarity will create a sense of balance and stability in the summer craziness.
Many of these suggestions seem nice in theory but may not be realistic or practical. Choose ONE that seems the most appropriate for your personal situation and focus on that. And see how you can be just a little less stressed out this summer!