The summer holidays are here and as well as doing all the usual planned activities during the break, this blog explores ways we can create calm too.
The summer holidays can be a time which some of us find stressful, and others really enjoy. If you are a planner, and need to organise, you may have been sorting out activities for your children for a good few weeks before d-day, or you may be a go with the flow kinda person. Either way, these are my thoughts on helping our children make the most of their summer break, and making things as calm as possible for you too.
I totally appreciate how challenging it can be to sometimes have everyone around, all the time. The fridge seems to be permanently empty and everything is much more unstructured. I truly used to worry about the holidays and keeping everything going, children where they needed to be, activities flowing that I didn’t always enjoy the time I got to actually spend with my boys. Then, one day I realised, they spend the majority of their time at school, and this time at home, even though it feels like it stretches out into the ether, is actually a really valuable time for you, and them. It is not to mean that you have to spend every second of every day with them, but appreciating having them around, and taking a moment to recognise this, rather than focusing on the tough stuff, like entertaining them can help the body, and mind slow down.
Don’t just do – be!
Often we focus on ‘activities our children need to ‘do’ to make the most of the summer holidays, maybe embracing their favourite hobby, or going to holiday club because you are working. One of my other realisations is that if there is a element of planned ‘do’ in your holidays, try and balance it out with some just ‘be’.
What do I mean by that?
The majority of us believe that productivity and efficiency is tied up in what we do and achieve. We find it very difficult to recognise that actually just sitting there, appreciating time with our children and not feeling the need to be active can be just as beneficial.
The mind loves ‘downtime’ when we are not filling it with stuff, even fun activities in an effort to constantly entertain our children, so taking some time to just sit with your children (or without them as mine regularly disappear to their rooms when I do this) helps to model more of a slow down mentality to the home which is vital for recovering from summer term madness.
Allow your kids to be bored
My boys get really annoyed with me when they utter the dreaded words ‘i’m bored’ and I say ‘good’. From my perspective of supporting numerous people with anxiety and overwhelm, I know that the brain loves to be bored. It is the time when it allows all the thousands of thoughts we think every day to be processed and dealt with, so we don’t end up feeling like we ‘can’t think straight’ or ‘see the wood for the trees’.
If we allow our children to get bored, and not offer them a games console or screen, they will find something else to do, something which involves their imagination, something which sparks their creativity and activates the side of our brain which is not just a passive recipient of entertainment.
Screens are when they can just allow their brain to be lazy and not really gain a sense of achievement other than points scoring playing online with their mates, which sometimes can be okay, but just not all the time.
I know this can feel challenging, you need a break too right? But sometimes pushing through the boredom pain can be massively rewarding when they start rediscovering those toys and activities which you wish they would actually play with!
Don’t over schedule
I am 100% guilty of this one. In my panic of keeping my boys entertained over the summer, especially when they were younger, I would book in all sorts of activities, including numerous ‘play dates’ with friends. I’d then get to the summer and find that we rarely had a spare day, and I ended up rushing around like a headless chicken trying to fit it all in!
Try to make sure you have at least some free time during the weeks, a whole day to just be at home can not only feel like luxury to you, but to your children too. Remember if they are at school, or just finished exams, they will need that time to relax and unwind from everything being organised and delivered into their brain every day. If I teach my boys that they have to be busy ‘doing’ every day, then that is what they will carry into their adult lives. We often over schedule because of the above, the ‘i’m bored’ but stopping fearing this, and embracing it is a great way to obtain calm for the mind.
And yes, summer is meant to be a time of slowdown and enjoyment, not just frantic movements from a to b and an overbooked diary. If you are more mindful of slowing down and taking a break, your children are more likely to be too. Slowing down means we notice more, appreciate more, and value the time with our children as they grow, creating positive memories for the future, supporting them to relieve any feelings of worry and anxiety and create more calm.
Love Clare x
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