I don’t know about you but the school holidays can be rough. Whilst I love my children, spending day in and day out with them isn’t my idea of a good time. There seems to be an ever-mounting pressure to entertain them and make every school holiday an epic adventure. The effect being tired, broke parents and harder to please, not very grateful children. This blog is less about the things we should do (let them play unstructured outside, plan outings in the great outdoors that don’t drain resources, remember that’s it’s not your ‘job’ to entertain them and take time to do things you enjoy also), and more about how we can bounce back after things haven’t gone to plan.
These holidays I found myself sick, tired and extremely frustrated- circumstances had me caring full time, on my own for three children that fought most of the time. Add daylight savings to the mix and you have an exhausting combination. As a result, there was very little time for my own self-care, (meditation, bath’s, reading, quiet time, beach walks). As the days progressed, I coughed more, yelled more and sometimes just wanted to run away and cry.
Of course, there were nice moments in between, but overall, I felt defeated. There were times that I thought, “I should be coping better”, “I know that yelling only makes things worse”, “all my ‘good parenting’ has come undone”, “why can’t I control this situation?” My survival mantra over the past week was “this too shall pass”.
Whether it’s school holidays or some other life circumstance leaving you drained, here are five ways to dust yourself off and restore balance once more:
Now that I’ve had a couple of days to reflect I can forgive myself, and my children. We are not perfect, parenting is hard work, we all have our limits. Know your self-deprecating story (this week mine was “I do this for a living, I should be able to cope better”) and offer it (the story that is) compassion and forgiveness. We can’t be at our best all the time. Be kind to yourself.
2. Fill your cup back up:
I was fortunate enough to have the weekend to recover, my husband took the kids and I lay on the couch in the sun and read a mindless novel. We need to acknowledge that we are empty and make it a priority to rest and recover before we get back into the weekly routine. If you can’t do this before the week begins, then ensure you weave it into the week: a short meditation, a lunch time run or walk, self- reflection or creative journaling, sitting quietly in the sun; whatever works for you.
The most helpful thing for me is to not carry this alone, when we feel overwhelmed and we keep it to ourselves it manifests into greater stress and illness in our lives. It also doesn’t give others the opportunity to help us recover. By sharing with my friends and family my distress there were able to help me by taking the kids and giving me space.
4. Trust yourself:
Don’t allow the low points to define you. So, you didn’t do a great job, didn’t cope well, feel like you failed at something or felt defeated. Trust that you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and step into a new day. Even if that means you need the help of loved ones or a professional, even if it’s hard and not much fun, even if it takes time to recover. Right now is a new moment, a new opportunity to try again. I’m not yet back to my ‘best self’ but I’m certainly being kind to myself in the process.
5. Be mindful
When we feel overwhelmed it is often difficult to be mindful of the moment, of the body, of the breath. As things start to settle down remember to reconnect to your body, your physical response to emotional triggers in the moment. This helps prevent the build-up of nervous energy, stress and anxiety. You can do this by focusing on the sensations you feel in your body (hot-cold, tight-loose, dense-soft, still-moving) without judging them or trying to change them. Simply breathing and offering compassion to yourself goes a long way towards calming your nervous system and restoring your sense of balance.
I teach more of these mindfulness strategies on the first Friday of the month in The Mindful Body: de-stress session. Follow the link to book: