Even without a direct connection to school summer holidays, I can feel the change in energy here in Falmouth this month! I always adjust my expectations and work routine during August, and have put together a few ideas of things that help me, and which might be useful if you have kids off school too...
Create a Routine: Having a basic routine can help you and the people around you maintain a sense of structure, even if it's a much softer and flimsier version of how things work during term-time. Everyone's expectations will be adjusted accordingly, but just the fact of having a general plan for the day can reduce uncertainty, anxiety and overwhelm.
Our brains like familiarity, and if we can give them a bit of this (even in small, sneaky doses) it helps us stay more calm and regulated than if we are making all out decisions moment by moment. This soon gets exhausting if we do it every day. I choose to wake up at the same time every day, have my cup of tea and 'go-to' breakfast, and then shower and take my dog for a walk. Of course this can be altered if there are specific plans, but if not then the first hour of my day just flows without planning or forethought.
Know How To Relax: It's so easy to let go of regular practices during the Summer, but this can be when we need them the most. If you have any familiarity with breathwork, meditation, yoga, or even mindful walking, try and fit them into your new routine. You might choose to protect these moments as time for yourself, or it could feel appropriate to try them as a family, or 'one-to-one' time with a child.
The summer can also be a good time to actively catch up on rest and extra sleep. If the people you're spending time with are having lie-ins, or afternoon naps, could you have one too?! I hear a lot from Mums that when children are asleep they use the time to get as much done as possible, but are there some occasions where the most useful thing you could do in that precious time is top up your own batteries? Intentional rest is a big thing for me at the moment and I'm choosing to embrace it. I know this isn't always easy (there are always reasons why we 'can't' or 'shouldn't') but I'm including it here as an option.
Get Outside and Digital Detox: You know how much I love getting outside in a calm, spacious environments, especially if it can be by the water. Even if you can't find a way to connect with blue health benefits, any physical activity will help release endorphins which naturally lift our mood and can stimulate a change of energy if we're tired or in a funk.
Connect with People Who Support, Nourish and Calm You: Try and be selective about who you spend time with - you don't have to say 'yes' to every invitation or suggestion. If you start to notice that certain groups or individuals leave you feeling drained or irritable, question whether you really need to interact with them. On the flip side, notice which people and situations feel good, and try to replicate the bits that work best.
If you have challenging situations which you really can't get away from, think about ways that you can have an 'energy shield' around you and practice staying a little bit detached. Especially for those of us who are highly sensitive or empathetic, this can be a game-changer. Can you be physically present, but also protect yourself and hold something back emotionally?
Practice Gratitude: This could be a journaling moment in a notebook, or just in your head as you're making a cup of tea. Finding things to be grateful for is not about forcing toxic positivity, but remembering to notice what is going well. There's a wonderful explanation from Brene Brown that says joy doesn't inspire gratitude, it's actually the other way around.
Gratitude lists can also be great to introduce to children when you all have a bit more time. Make it into a game where you race to find 10 things you're grateful for that morning - the smaller the better, and the more you practice the easier it gets. Mine for today are:
The blue sky when I woke up this morning
Cup of tea
Not having to rush
Fresh fruit on my yoghurt and oats
Getting a parking space
Light winds for paddleboarding
Helpful work meeting
Once you get going, you realise they don't have to be fancy!
I'd love to hear any more of your tips for managing wellbeing during school summer holidays - especially if you are a parent with ideas to support each other. Comment on my linked Instagram post and let us know how you are doing!