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If you're a parent, chances are the idea of all that extra family time is both a delight and a slightly stressful prospect. The idea of spending leisurely days with your kids, catching up on all those activities and creating lots of memories is a lovely one. But the reality can be quite different: the pressure of finding new things to do every day, the stress of getting under each other's feet, and of course the cooped-up effect of inevitable rainy Summer days. Here's a quick guide to help you navigate the school holidays without getting stressed. After all, they won't be kids forever!
One of the challenges presented by school holidays is that everyone - including you - is out of their normal routine. So make sure the long Summer holiday days have some semblance of routine. This doesn't have to be strict, and the idea isn't to be a killjoy. But regular bedtimes, 30 minutes every evening for tidying bedrooms and toys, a cut off time for computer use or an evening curfew for safety can all make you feel a bit more in control.
Don't forget, you do not have to do everything! Your own Summer could so easily get swallowed up by playing taxi to various children, hosting sleepovers, organising holidays and mini breaks and coming up with new and exciting ways to entertain. Make sure you share the responsibilities, whether that's between yourself and your partner, or with grandparents, godparents, other family or parents of your kids' friends. Everyone will be happy to help and the result will be a happier, less stressed you. And that's got to be good, for you and for your kids.
Just because your kids are on holiday, that doesn't mean you lose your own identity. Depending on their age, you may need to give more of yourself to your kids' routine. But it's important that you keep some time back for yourself, too. We recommend at least 30 minutes every single day which you ring-fence for doing something just for you - not as a Mum or a Dad, or even as a partner, but just as you. This could be a walk outside, an early night with a book, a coffee with a (childfree?) friend or time spent on a personal project. Protect this daily 30 minutes; it's important to your health and wellbeing.
Lastly, don't forget that you're a grown-up! Being surrounded by kids all day during the Summer holidays can leave you feeling like you've lost your identity. Get it back by creating grown-up time as often as you can. This can be a short amount of time every day, which you use to talk to a friend on the phone, meet a group of friends for coffee or a trip to the gym, or special time spent talking (and listening to!) your partner. Or it could be a longer amount of time, less frequently: a weekend away with friends or partner, a half day shopping or at a day spa, or an evening at a friend's house catching up on grown-up conversation. It's your Summer, too. We hope these ideas will help you navigate the days of August and September.
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