Author: Ann Grandchamp, Mental Health Editor
If you’re a mother who works outside the home, summer holidays can be a real struggle. Figuring out what to do with the children when you work, while still being there for them, and spending quality time with them can be a challenge.
Not knowing how to manage this emotionally can lead to feelings of overwhelm, burnout, and to the feeling of guilt (guilty while working but also guilty when you are with the children). None of these are good for your mental as well as your physical health so here are 4 tips to help you manage the juggling and to staying sane over the coming summer vacations.
1. Put a flexible plan in place
Having a plan for who does what and when along with who goes where and when will help you and the whole family and provide you with the general direction you want to be going in. It will also establish a routine, which is fundamental to mental calm and clarity.
BUT! Flexibility is key. A plan is good as long as it’s flexible and not set in stone. When it becomes too rigid, it also brings stress and frustration. A bit of going with the flow when necessary is important.
For example, if you’ve decided that you will be working from 2pm to 4pm, but (one of) your child(ren) is upset just before 2pm, it’s probably a good idea to give them a few minutes and start work a few minutes late. Or move your work outside if you can so children can run off some energy at the same time. Or you change the day you were going to do house chores, that’s okay too.
2. “Let it go”
If you do end up frustrated, overwhelmed or stressed (and let’s face it, it will probably happen at times), it’s crucial to
- Acknowledge these feelings.
- Let them out because let’s face it, they won’t remediate on it’s own.
Here’s are 2 fun and easy ways to let go, which you can also teach your child(ren):
- Imagine blowing into a bubble or a balloon. As you do, blow the unhelpful feeling(s) into it. When it’s nice and big, tie a knot and let it go. Watch it fly up into the sky and further and further away until you can’t see it anymore. This will give you lightness and calm. You can send several bubbles or balloons into the atmosphere.
- Slow down your breathing. As you breathe in to the count of 5 through your nose, imagine breathing in the resource you currently need (like calm, letting go, patience, etc.) and giving it a colour. Then as you breathe out to the count of 7 through your mouth, imagine breathing out the unhelpful feelings or thoughts and giving them a colour too. Do this for a few minutes. It’s fun and will change your state to a positive one very quickly.
3. Watch your thoughts
“If you talked to your friends like you talk to yourself, would you have any?”
What are you saying to yourself? And how are you talking to yourself? Most of us spend a lot of time being impatient, mean, degrading and stressed out towards ourselves. As a result, we can end up feeling down, deflated, discouraged, guilty, or sad. If this is your case, here are some ways to change your self-talk:
- Kindness – start talking to yourself in a kind, empathetic, and loving voice. Basically, talk to yourself exactly how you would talk to your best friend going through a difficult time. Being kind to yourself will help your body release oxytocin and you will feel more loved. Oxytocin also causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone. Isn’t that pretty amazing? You will also be kinder to those around you because kindness is contagious.
- Slow down – Our inner voice is often extremely fast-paced. Slowwww it riiiiiiiight dowwwwwn. And then eeeeeeeven mooooooore. And notice how much calmer you feel already.
- Low tone – pay attention to your inner voice. Is it high pitched as well as fast? It’s often the case. If so, lower the tone to a deeper tone and notice how that too helps you feel more grounded and relaxed.
“Your inner voice is probably the most powerful voice you will ever hear.”
4. Write an “already done” list
Ever heard of an “already done list”? I used to write “to-do lists” all the time and they seemed to grow faster than I could cross things out. Which led to feelings of frustration, resignation, and stress. Here’s what I do nowadays: I still have my to-do list, but more importantly, I keep an “already done” list, which I add to as the day goes by.
This leads to a much greater sense of achievement and satisfaction. As a bonus, take a couple of minutes at the end of the day to CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS by doing a little dance, patting yourself on the back, smiling to yourself in the mirror, saying “well done!” or “great stuff” or “you’re awesome!”, or all of the above. Let me know how good that feels!
Those are my top 4 tips to help you manage the juggling over the summer holidays. Let me know (in the comments section) which ones you put in practice and which ones help you the most.
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