The summer is finally here, and for parents with school children, there’s a long six weeks holiday looming. Many may be feeling relieved at the thought of a break from the rigorous term time routine but for others, this may bring feelings of trepidation about how to juggle childcare, work, daily activities plus how to cope with challenging behaviours that might rear up from children during this time.
Here are 5 simple but effective suggestions to help you sail through the summer:
1. Downtime and Stillness
The end of term is typically accompanied by extremely tired and emotional children so allowing them to rest and recuperate is a crucial element to the start of any holiday period. Slower mornings and easy days at home, reconnecting with toys, books and games that don’t involve the internet will help children to relax and clear their minds. The popular ‘Children’s Meditation on Stillness’ by Les Flitcroft is a great technique to introduce to them as it gives them a sense of happiness, calms their emotions and helps them to better manage friendships.
2. Get Active
Fresh air and physical exercise offer so many benefits to the emotional and mental health of children. Days out will not only help them to discover new places and try new activities, but the fresh air will also help them to unwind and sleep well at night. Days by the seaside are particularly good as they are not only fun, the sea air is extremely therapeutic and enhances feelings of well being.
3. Plan and create a new routine
Just because you don’t have the rigorous timelines of a typical school day doesn’t mean you can’t establish a “School Holiday” routine for you and the children – albeit a bit more relaxed. Planning the activities and structure of the day with input from the children will help them to feel empowered and encourage collaboration. For some children, knowing what’s coming next helps them feel safe including retaining a bedtime routine.
4. Boundaries and Praise
It’s all too easy to take a laid back, no rules approach during the summer holidays, however, children still need both boundaries and praise to feel safe and secure whatever the circumstances. You might want to get input from your children, age-dependent, to help set some of those boundaries (e.g. how many ice creams a week) so it’s all clear up front. And then, of course, be prepared for those boundaries to be pushed, your buttons to be pressed and for emotions to run high when you say ‘no’ but know that your firmness now will pay off in the future.
5. Look after yourself
Your own well being is more important than ever when you are out of your normal routine. Your physical and mental health will have a direct impact on your children and when you are spending so much time together, it’s important that you are feeling good.
Try to build in some ‘me’ time whether it means getting up earlier than normal to do some meditation, in particular, the Twin Hearts Meditation, which is backed by scientific study and has been found to rapidly reduce stress and anxiety, or by planning in time to exercise. Running, dancing, a yoga class or some other activity you enjoy doing, will help revitalise your system, you’ll be less fatigued and have more energy to keep up with the children.
Above all else the summer holidays offer a positive and unique opportunity to reconnect with our children after a busy school year, treasure this time with them.