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School is out, summer is heating up, and so are the pressures on parents to care for their kids and keep them engaged. Parents can feel pressure to give their child(ren) a summer to remember with packed schedules of activities or vacations, and this pressure can lead to anxiety. A stressed and anxious parent is less able to engage with their child in a positive way. So how do we step back, relax a bit, and take time to ride the waves of those summer schedules?
Plan Ahead…To an Extent Not every parent is an expert planner and that is okay! Some parents map out their summer a full year in advance, while others wing it from weekend to weekend. Whatever your style is, embrace it. If you do have trouble with time management and long-term planning, practical strategies including using a planner or calendar app can help. And, if you’re feeling really stumped in the planning phase, this is one of those times where you are encouraged to be a copycat! Yes, that’s right, feel free to ask your friends what they are doing with their children and see if any of their plans peak your interest.
Be Intentional Stress is normal and inherent to any transitional moment in life, including preparing for the summer! By intentionally incorporating self-care into our daily routine, we invite a state of equilibrium into our personal life, but also into our family life. You get the wonderful opportunity of modeling for your children and other family members the positive effects of self-care. Did you know that self-care can have the same effects in maintaining your child’s mental and physical health as it does for you? Check in with yourself on how you are feeling physically, socially, and emotionally. Which cup is empty and in need of a refill? If it’s physical, think of activities that will bring rest or energy (whichever need your body is yearning for). If it’s social, which interactions will be the most rewarding for you and how can you bring them to fruition? If it’s emotional, try to be mindful of what is fueling that emotion and its intensity.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help It’s easy to get overwhelmed and burnt out when planning for the summer while fulfilling life’s other obligations, so remember to be gentle on yourself! Ask yourself, “Is this task necessary right now and, if so, do I need support? Would it be healthier for me to ask for support?”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because more often than not, we make independent attempts at tasks, only to induce feelings of failure, frustration, and resentment towards ourselves. So the long-term effects of asking for help, outweigh the short-term effects of, perhaps, being embarrassed to ask for help. Sometimes, it is absolutely possible, necessary, and healthy to be a lone surfer, but at other times, it’s perfectly fine, and even healthier, to ride the wave with a fellow surfer(s).
1. Self-care means taking care of yourself. This means eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, caring for personal hygiene, and anything else that maintains good health.
2. Make self-care a priority. There will always be other things to do, but don’t let these interrupt the time you set aside for self-care. Self-care should be given the same importance as other responsibilities.
3. Make self-care a habit. Just like eating one apple doesn’t eliminate health problems, using self-care just once won’t have much effect on reducing stress. Choose activities that you can do often, and that you will stick with.
4. Set boundaries to protect your self-care. You don’t need a major obligation to say “no” to others— your self-care is reason enough. Remind yourself that your needs are as important as anyone else’s.
5. A few minutes of self-care is better than no self-care. Set an alarm reminding you to take regular breaks, even if it’s just a walk around the block, or an uninterrupted snack. Oftentimes, stepping away will energize you to work more efficiently when you return.