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How to survive the summer holidays.

There’s a part of me that’s a bit sad that the words survival and summer holidays appear so readily in the same sentence. But the reality for working parents, especially working mums who typically take on most of the child care, entertainment duties, planning, organising (hello mental and emotional load), is that school holidays are not a joyful break. Instead they’re the triple whammy of working like you don’t have kids, parenting like you don’t have a job AND the expectation that it’s summer and you’re meant to be having a joyful time making the most amazing memories.

When speaking to my mum friends, they’re all pretty stressed and daunted at the thought of 6 weeks with the kids at home. It’s like an impossible riddle on how to keep everyone happy. Mere survival seems like the best they could hope for. But I’d like to be a bit more optimistic than that. So here’s a few ideas that might help…

Permission to coast

You have permission to coast…. Yep you heard me, coast. And if you’re clutching your pearls and feeling uncomfortable at the mere thought of giving anything less than 150% in every single area of your life then I am talking especially to you. You have permission to give less than 100% for these 6 weeks (and at any other time). Prioritise what’s truly essential on all fronts, the kids, work, the house, and then leave the rest. Start to say “no, I don’t have the capacity to take that on at the moment” and cut yourself some slack.

Get real

It’s possibly not the entire 6 weeks you need to cover. If you’ve got time off booked for a couple of weeks and are lucky enough to have some child care in place for some of the other times then how many days are you actually having to cover child care plus working? I was in a coaching group a couple of weeks ago and there was a mum there who was feeling understandably really despondent about the summer break. She had a busy corporate job, husband with an equally busy corporate job, no family support, 2 kids under 5. She was stressed. But when we talked it through how many days she actually needed to cover where she was expected to work and have the kids we worked out it was 12 days, equivalent to 2 days a week for 6 weeks. And suddenly that felt a lot more manageable.

Don’t oversubscribe

The kids (and you) need a break. It can feel like the kids need to be entertained 24/7 and every day should be an adventure but there is a lot to be said for just slowing down and letting the kids be bored from time to time (although I appreciate hearing “I’m bored” on repeat is enough to drive anyone up the wall). Boredom actually has loads of great benefits for kids, it helps with creativity, problem solving and resilience and it’s important for everyone to have time to just “be”. If you need a little support with unstructured play - create a “bored box” that the kids can go to for a bit of inspiration when they don’t know what else to do. Mine has art supplies, stickers, old magazines, some recipe books (to look through and then they can pick something to make another day), science books, post it notes and some bits from the recycling box to make junk models.

Do something just for you

Find ways to fill your cup so you’ve got enough to pour into others. The summer holidays do require more from you so you need more for yourself. We make the mistake of just giving more and end up overwhelmed and shouty (or at least I do).

So take a minute to think about what you need for yourself and how to make that happen. Don’t dismiss it just because it’s small, you might not get a whole day off at the spa once a week (if only!) but even 15 minutes of uninterrupted peace for yourself will help. Whatever you manage will pay dividends in terms of your patience and resilience. Also your family will thank you for not being quite so overwhelmed and shouty. For me this looks like guided meditations and yoga nidra, just 20 mins away from it all where I can breathe deeply and reset my nervous system makes everything more manageable.

So those are my top tips for “surviving” the summer, hope these help!

Big love x

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