Summer fun brings summer stress for parents. Here are three tips for keeping your inner cool in the heat.
You made it. Another year has ended, school is out, and now it is time to shift gears into summer mode. While it is easy to get caught up in all the excitement, if you are like me, making this transition can be a bit overwhelming.
Sure, getting kids ready for school and getting them there on time each day isn’t exactly a walk in the park, and, heck, we could all use a break from our routines. But summer brings new stresses. When I speak to parents, they tell me it is the little things, like keeping kids off their phones and video games, keeping up with school-recommended summer reading, making sure there is a good balance between relaxation and activity, juggling daycare and camp schedules, and, oh yes, supplying a bottomless amount of food!
While you are getting your ducks in a row, figuring out who will go where with whom and when, you may want to adjust your lens, the way in which you are viewing this transition.
I find that when parents allow themselves to feel (as opposed to think) their way through this incredible roller coaster of a ride, the things that seem so overwhelming become manageable and interesting. This is because your feelings have substance; your thoughts don’t. When you focus exclusively on your thoughts, it can give you the impression you are on shaky ground. Your feelings, on the other hand, connect you to what is raw and real.
You see, being a parent means you get to have a front-row seat to what it is like to entrench yourself into the moment. While your thoughts can be distracting, children have a way of redirecting you to the present. Very often it is the little things they say and do that get us to pause into the here and now. As you transition into summer, see these moments as little pit stops for fueling up with emotional energy.
You can’t control every darn moment (trust me, I have tried). However, what you can do is dive into the juiciness of what each moment brings, even the parts that mess up your day and cause you to lose your cool. While transitions may trigger a sense of being overwhelmed, know your calm will come from feeling more and controlling less.
See transitions as opportunities. You may be accustomed to seeing a transition as simply getting from one place or stage to another: from a crib to a bed, from diapers to potty, or, in my family's case, from permit to license, yikes!
Transitions are not just about our kids. They are also opportunities for parents. Perhaps your new routine allows you to visit a new location, meet new people, get a little tan on those beautiful legs of yours, take a walk, or maybe even tackle one of the books in that big stack by your bed.
Tip: Rather than seeing transitions as taking you away from the moment, view them as opportunities to bring you to the moment.
Know that stress keeps life exciting and fresh. Not all stress is bad. While adapting to a new routine may initially seem daunting, the stress in your body will likely secrete just enough endorphins so you can make the switch. You have done this before and you can do it again. Let’s face it, routines that are never broken equal boredom.
Tip: See stress as a propeller giving you the energy, strength, and motivation to keep going. Use stress to your advantage. Rather than think to yourself, this is so overwhelming, instead thank your body for giving you the energy to adapt.
Adjust your expectations. While you may be accustomed to keeping everything in order, transitioning into summer mode will likely throw you off. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to let go of any sense of consistency, as routines can provide a sense of stability and certainty. With that said, you may have to adjust them to make them more realistic. A child who normally goes to bed at 8:00 may go to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 in the summer.
Tip: Give yourself permission to ease into these new routines gradually. For example, if your child is whiny and tired, it is perfectly okay for you to fall back on what you know works. As summer gains momentum, things can and will fall into place naturally—so long as you don’t spend your precious time and energy resisting it.
(Try this summertime treat: Charred Corn and Blueberry Salad.)