As we head at alarming speed towards the school summer holidays I talk to more and more parents, particularly mums who are already investing a whole lot of energy in planning things to do that will entertain, educate, interest, motivate, inspire and a whole host of other things for their children! Even just listening to them talking, I feel quite exhausted and have real sympathy for their anxiety but also wonder about the extra pressure that they are putting on themselves.
I don’t know about you, I don’t know how old you are, but when I was growing up my memories of summer holidays during the school years were very different. For a start both my parents worked admittedly my mum not full-time during the summer but also there never seemed to be this endless need to entertain. I appreciate life is very different now and there are all sorts of safety aspects about “playing outside” to consider – let’s face it we’ve all seen the posts on Facebook about back in the 70s or back in the 80s, but what I do remember was having to learn to entertain myself, play games on my own and yes sometimes even be bored.
A really good friend of mine owns several nurseries and we’ve had this discussion in the past and she has told me that one of the greatest problems nursery school teachers have is children don’t know how to be bored anymore, they don’t have that space to let their imagination go, to daydream – that there are constantly being stimulated either by parents or sadly by screens.
Anyway, this brings me on to the self-care aspect of this blog, summer holidays can seem exceptionally daunting at the best of times so how do you preserve your sanity? How do you carve in a little extra time for you? Maybe it’s these times of potential boredom for your children where you could do something nice for yourself?
We are not all perfect, we will feel exasperated and frustrated this summer, we will all need a little space however much we love our families, so one of the first things you can do is to plan ahead for some space for you. I appreciate that’s not always easy particularly if the children are very little or you are a single parent. Planning is key here and not being afraid to ask for some help.
Remember what we said earlier? The children will still have a nice summer if they are not constantly entertained you, you do not have to be thinking up activities for them 24/7 give yourself a break!
Also – It is not going to kill anyone if a couple of nights a week they have fish fingers and chips or some other quick meal out of the freezer, make life a little easier for yourself, consider it a summer holiday treat that you don’t have to be offering up healthy options all the time, it’s exhausting!
Take advantage of times that they might meet with other friends or are looked after by members of family and I appreciate this won’t apply to everyone, rather than ploughing through household chores go out for a coffee with a friend, sit down and put your feet up, even the smallest thing for you will make a difference. Self -care is not selfish, I’ve said it before and will keep saying it.
Much better that you get some space, that you have a breather so that when you do spend time with your children doing something, you can enjoy it and be present!
Ultimately it’s about finding ways to make sure that at least some of your needs are met during the school holidays, most parents feel like glorified taxi drivers hotel managers head of housekeeping etc. but you have a duty to yourself to take care of you too and if that means a little forward planning to give you some space to give you a chance to rest and recover now is the time to be thinking about that and that is okay!