In just a few weeks the long summer holidays begin. Will it be a time of fun in the sun or a stress ridden nightmare with the kids hanging around the house driving themselves – and you – up the wall?
What is stress?
Why do we feel stressed? Stress has its basis in ancient instincts for self preservation – the flight or fight mechanism where the body prepares to defend itself. Thankfully, modern life does not present us with many situations where we need to run away but the mechanism still remains. Periods of stress can result in tiredness or difficulties in sleeping, muscle tension, headaches, difficulties in concentrating, worrying, impatience and irritability. However, research into the effects of stress has shown that people who are experiencing something positive at the same time as a stressful event can find it has less impact. The level of stress is also dictated by how the person views an event. So, doing something enjoyable and changing your perspective can reduce your stress levels.
Here are a few ideas on how to make this summer holiday more fun for the kids and you.
Be realistic in your expectations of your family and yourself. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, after all, it is part of being human. Be aware of your inner dialogue – what internal messages are you saying to yourself? For example, it might be helpful to change negative messages to positive, such as –“ I am easy going, calm and relaxed.” Have someone to talk to and share your concerns, difficulties and successes. And make sure that you reward yourself for being relaxed and calm.
Agree the ground rules with your partner or with yourself. Discuss these with the kids, involve them in the decision making process and get their agreement. Make it clear what you want. Tidy rooms, no stuff left all over the house, what time to be home, how much TV and computer time etc and in return they get some of what they want. Set the consequences for not keeping to the agreements. Make those consequences something that mean something to each child and that is appropriate for their age. Remember to praise the behaviour that you want.
Have fun together by spending time as a family doing things. As well as all of the things to do that cost money there are lots of things to do that cost very little. Here are a few you may like to try:
- go to the park and have a picnic,
- make food together – pizzas, cake or biscuits,
- play music and dance together,
- play board games or cards
- or organise a game of rounders or cricket or just get out into the fresh air as anything involving exercise produces a “feel-good” factor in you and kids, and tires them out! You will have plenty of your own ideas, and so will your friends, so get together and put them into practice.
Most importantly give yourself permission and make time to relax. This might mean anything from a quiet coffee and magazine to time exercising, taking long bubble baths or even time chatting with friends and connecting with people.
Following some of these suggestions may mean changing the way you do things but starting with a few small steps is more likely to succeed than big steps that are more challenging. And as with learning anything new it takes time and repetition, so why not start planning how to have a less stressed summer now.
What ideas do you have for a stress free summer? Share your ideas by leaving a comment.