You did it!
You’ve survived lockdown. Navigated a new normal in educating your children. Probably baked what’s felt like your millionth banana bread/ scone/ fairy cake.
You’ve clapped for carers. Started sourcing masks. And now as a reward for all your diligence and determination, you’re greeted with the commencement of summer holidays!
Totting up the days on your calendar between now and the return of daily routines can feel utterly overwhelming. But fear not.
We all need a little extra support, especially us parents. So I’ve put together my Top 5 Tips for Positive Post Lockdown Summer Holiday just for you.
- Manage Expectations
Communication is key.
Now is always the right time to talk to your children. Discuss what the summer is going to look like, what is going to happen and how everyone can support each other. Younger children can draw pictures of what they imagine they’ll get to do over the summer holidays. Are there sunny picnics? Beach scenes? Airplanes? Get a glimpse of what they’re dreaming of and help them see if those dreams are something you and your family can make those dreams a reality.
Share your vision, too. Draw your own pictures. Or take out photos from summers gone by.
For older children, work together to create a family summer mission statement or a set of agreed expectations. These can be as simple as we use quiet voices to talk to each other even if we are upset, to setting out a chores schedule. Treating everyone as if they are citizens of your home can help inform who is responsible for what — that goes beyond a chore list, and can transcend to the decision to be happy.
Most importantly though, don’t feel guilty if you’re not nailing everything all the time. Every day is different and everyone faces challenges. You’re not alone. And the most important person to be patient with you, is yourself.
In the absence of a the school day, with its regular wakeup and bed times and other normal daily habits, blocks of time can quickly start merging into what feels like, one limitless abyss — and that is when feelings of overwhelm and anxiety can really start to rule your mindset.
By creating a rough plan, allowing for spontaneity but with enough structure that can allow for a rhythm to the day, you’ll find that the weeks feel more manageable, as in turn, will your and kids’ moods.
Predictability is comforting for you and your smalls, so why not post your plan, one week at a time, somewhere everyone can see it?
This is also an opportunity to give everyone a say, teaching your children they can share both the privilege of choosing what to do in a day, with the responsibility of bringing those choices to life. They might choose family pizza night one day. Get them to help with making the dough, topping the pizzas and maybe choosing music to play while the family dines at your at home pizzeria.
Older children who need more independence in choosing how to structure their own day, can still benefit from predictability. Let them know what you expect from them and consider setting short weekly challenges. These can be around exercise, reading, chores or even mindfulness, with some kind of a reward to be earned in the end.
3. Prepare for Boredom
Even the most structured households will probably be home to the age old cries of “Mu-u-um, I’m boooooooooooored.” at some point over the next few weeks.
Boredom is a natural occurrence over summer holidays and allowing children to be bored is actually key in helping them nurture their own creativity and self reliance. When children are bored they are forced to find a way to fill their own time, often turning to technology for passive entertainment. This certainly has its place, but too much tech time can be detrimental even to adults.
Whether you have an “I’m Bored” list, jar or lucky dip having a collection of go to activities is a fun and positive way to fill the time and stave off whining.
4. Small Goals and Big Wins
I recently read a post written by a mother of two, brilliant artist and cancer warrior who had just endured yet another round of chemo. Despite her characteristic positivity, by the time she got home from the hospital around midday, she owned that she feel worn out. Still, she wanted to give her kids and husband the best of her. Choosing family time was her challenge, but also her blessing.
She made a decision that she would make it to 7PM. She was able to keep her focus and do whatever it took to get to 7. She called it her small goal.
She had something definite to aim for, which made the likelihood of success so much greater, and when, ultimately she achieved her goal, she had cause for celebration (after a good night’s sleep).
Taking time to celebrate your families wins will give you the fuel to keep going and striving toward your own goals: big or small.
5. Get comfortable asking for help.
Bubbles aren’t just for social distancing.
Raising healthy, happy kids isn’t down to just one or two people alone. As they say, it takes a village. So who do you want in your social support bubble?
Who are the people you want to to turn when you’ve endured your fourth toddler tantrum of the day? Or when your teenager discovers the effect of slamming doors when their blood is high.
Have conversations with other mums, with family and with friends about how you can support each other. Maybe create a days out exchange, where you take it in turns to plan something for everyone in your bubble. It will take the pressure off having to fill everyday with activity.
These tips are by no means exhaustive, but I hope they help you and your family create a positive summer experience.
They are just the beginning of the support I want for you.
If you are looking for more support and structure or an introduction into what coaching services can mean for you and your family, consider booking on to my Positive Academy for the Summer where I’ll be working with families across the country just like yours to create positive change and happy families.
Places are limited to enable each family maximum impact. To learn more or to book your place, feel free to contact me now.