So today is the first day of the Summer holidays, six weeks of glorious sun filled days with a tinge of Swallows and Amazons coupled with stress free parenting that is second only to the wonderful Mary Poppins! My Instagram account will be filled with happy memories of all the wonderful places that we will visit making this the best holiday ever!
Ok someone shake me and wake me up! We all know that if you have kids (especially ones between the ages of 9-16) this is only ever happens when you shut your eyes and create a virtual reality! But I have learnt that whilst Summer holidays can be a challenge balancing childcare, working and of course hormones, they don’t have to be complete wash out – especially if we, as parents, get our heads around it first so we are little bit ahead of the game, so here are my top tips to a stress free summer hols!
The first rule of a stress free summer is that there are no rules! In life we create lots of rules; we can’t have a decent day out unless we all get up really early, we have to have a picnic, we need at least two sets of clothes! Some of our best days out have started after midday, with no planning, no food and all three kids in the sea! Often the rules that we argue make our lives easier, create barriers and more arguing but when we unwrite the rules we are calm and relaxed and more likely to find workarounds where everyone is still ok.
A couple of years ago we realised that our holidays were smoother when we recognised the kids were on a different sleep schedule to us, now there is a lot of research about this, but we all know that kids as they get older struggle to get up in the morning, so why fight this? When we relaxed the rule about getting up, we found that we had more time to relax or do our own thing and they were more relaxed too, we then ‘started’ the day together as a family in a better frame of mind rather than with an argument about not getting up!
The second ‘rule’ is that make sure you plan but don’t plan. The amount of times, when my kids were younger, that days just haven’t worked out how I thought they would and then I have created stress, frustration or disappointment, not about what we are doing but that it wasn’t what I thought we should be doing. When we drop the plan that we have in our head and enjoy the moment that we have in front of us, the day is far more pleasurable – it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t quite what you had in mind!
The third ‘rule’ is decide on your priorities. We often overlook the most important priority of all which is to have fun during the holidays! Life can be terribly serious the rest of the year and this is the opportunity to lighten up with those you love the most. When we let go of the ‘rules’ we create and the ‘plans’ that we have, fun naturally bubbles to the surface if we allow it to.
The fourth ‘rule’ is make sure that you have time for you. This is essential at this time of year, especially if you are providing the majority of the childcare. Book in time with friends, make sure you keep up with your fitness classes, and make the most of the teenage lie ins – I look at these as nature’s way to recharge me!
Finally, avoid the Instagram comparison technique! It can be so tempting to look at everyone else’s perfectly poised pictures and tell yourself a wonderful story about the fabulous time that they are having and then compare it to your own! Remember, we are all parents, and none of us are Mary Poppins, I know they say a picture says a thousand words, but I can guarantee that a good number of those will be quite choice ones!
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