5 Self Care Tips for Parents this Summer
When you’re a child, the start of the long summer holiday might just be one of the best times of the year… when you’re a parent, it can be one of the most stressful. You’ll need to fill a lot of empty hours, fend off endless screen requests, manage expectations, perhaps juggle work alongside child care, and somehow create a fun and memorable summer. It’s not easy!
If you’re already feeling under pressure, here are some self-care tips to help reduce stress and look after yourself across the holidays.
It’s OK to slow down
Many of us start by planning out a rota of activities to keep everyone entertained, but end up rushing around for the whole six weeks and hit September totally exhausted. Lean towards a diary with more space and downtime instead. You’ll probably be able to add things in if you need to – it’s harder to scale down and back out of arrangements.
Some days might be a little on the boring side, but that’s OK. Learning to manage boredom and being comfortable with a slower pace is an important experience, and can be a great opportunity for creative ideas.
Keep a (relaxed) routine going
A slower pace might sound like endless pyjama days on the sofa, but there’s a lot to be said for keeping a daily routine in place. Maybe you’ll be staying up a little later, but try to stick to reasonable bedtimes, and wake up at a consistent time each morning.
Having a shape to the day is reassuring, and zero structure can actually be stressful for children, so let them know what to expect. Sticking more or less to your normal rhythms, whether that’s regular chores or agreed limits on screen time, also makes it easier to shift back into the school routine in September.
There will probably be more foodie treats over the summer, but stay fuelled with healthy meals and snacks and keep hydrated – everyone will be in a more stable mood (as tempting as it may be to crank up the caffeine and sugar!)
Add some sparkle to everyday activities
Maybe it’s using a new indulgent shower gel, or lighting that nice candle you’ve never opened while you’re getting dinner ready. Instead of saving stuff for ‘best’, make the daily routine just a little more special with some everyday joy. It could be as small as taking charge of the playlist on a car journey, so you get to listen to your all-time favourites rather than the kids’ soundtrack over and over again.
Stay connected with friends
After the long isolation of lockdown, and with many people still following some restrictions, the summer holidays might seem lonelier than usual. Try to stay connected with friends and family, even if it’s via group text or video chat.
Social media might seem like a good way to fill the void, but it can also trigger comparison and anxiety, especially when it seems like everybody you follow is having the perfect family summer. Meeting up with people you can be honest with, and sharing how you’re really finding the long break, can help ease that pressure to perform.
Involve the whole family
You don’t necessarily have to be by yourself for self-care, and getting the whole family involved means the kids can benefit from a mental health boost too. Being outside in nature, having energetic bursts of physical movement, and times of genuine laughter, can all help close stress cycles and decrease stress hormones in our bodies. Try walks together in green spaces, dancing in a kitchen disco, or sharing the funniest cat videos.
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