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If you are a parent, struggling right now with the impending summer holidays, feeling anxious or overwhelmed with everything which is happening around you, read on for my understanding and guidance.
Does anyone else feel like it is groundhog day? Here we are again, heading into the month of July when the diary seems to be getting fuller which leave us feeling like pulling our hair out?
I for one currently feel like I am stuck on a bit of a hamster wheel, going round, and round, and round, using up my energy but not quite getting anywhere.
Well, sometimes I feel like I have got somewhere, and then something else gets landed at me, something else I have to fit in, organise or plan for.
Ah, the joys of the summer holidays.
Not only are we expected to gain extra brain capacity during this period, we also have to be in three places at once.
And if, like me you experience fluctuating anxiety, this can be a vulnerable time.
And even if you don’t, this can be a time of overwhelm.
Don’t get me wrong, some of these extra events are truly fun and fulfilling. Watching my 13 year old son perform a part in Macbeth next week is going to be a true ‘proud parent’ moment. But others can be a test of endurance.
I know that a lot of people are looking towards the summer break as a time to rest and recover, but there is absolutely no harm in creating a little bit of space right now, as we don’t want to hit the summer holidays head on feeling overwhelmed and then struggling throughout the summer.
And I say ‘we’ because I am doing these things too, I run the same risks and want to take the same small steps to help myself at this busy time.
Create some space
One of the most important things you can do is to create a small piece of space, and time, just for you, each day. It really doesn’t have to be long, 15 minutes max. You can do anything you like, read a book, go for a walk, just sit in the garden, but consciously take this time to sit, or walk and let those thoughts of everything you need to do wash over you. I know that it may feel like there is too much to do, that you are ‘wasting time’, but if the brain has time to process, a little bit of space without being filled up with some new task, you are likely to much more efficient when you do get on with the next thing on the ‘to do’ list.
Learn to say ‘no’
Don’t say ‘yes’ to everything. This is me all over. I am always the one agreeing to go to every event, feeling like saying no means that my boys might miss out on an opportunity they might not otherwise have had. I know, rationally that this is not true, but the concept of FOMO (Fear of missing out) becomes really strong here. Saying yes to everything can often mean that we are doing so much (and so are our children) that we are not enjoying anything, as we are literally just rushing from one thing to the next. My husband helps me here, encouraging me to sit back, and decide what is essential and what isn’t in the ‘the boys need to go to that’ mentality.
Know that everything doesn’t have to be completed in 3 weeks. It’s a bit like Christmas, where we cram all our social activities and events into the time ‘before’ the holiday, forgetting that we can actually put something in the diary for 2 or 3 months time. Not everything has to happen ‘now’, and it can actually be nice if we maybe focus some of our attention to what we might want to do after the summer holidays are over, and we are back into a new term.
Find the things which help you
Yesterday I had a reminder that I needed to keep doing the things which help me manage my anxiety, and that putting them off actually made me less, not more productive. I have several tools that I use including my own MP3 relaxation, my essential oils and people who I have in my life who I can be completely honest and upfront with. I need and use these things and people, and make sure I take the time to use them, because these are the times they come in most useful. I often find that when I talk about how I am feeling, it helps me process that overwhelm, and putting out there, and being understood lets go of some of that building overwhelm.
know that this is not forever, that this time of year comes, and goes, just like the others, and the important part is that we remain intact throughout, and actually enjoy some of the busyness which has been created around us. I’m here with you and I understand that at whatever stage of parenthood you are in, the challenges will be there, and looking after you becomes paramount.