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Parental Overwhelm during the 'Holidays.'

by Carolyn Whitehead


Parental overwhelm…


It’s the summer holidays, I use the word ‘holiday,’ lightly, it should be renamed the summer juggle surely… the juggle of trying to hold down a job, be ‘fun mum,’ provide nutritious food ten million times a day, take time to relax and unwind yourself, clean the endless mess created by the children, go for summer drinks with friends, pack for the summer holidays and buy all the clothes needed for everyone but yourself, and not lose your mind in the process is real.


I know it’s not just me that feels like this, every parent I speak to over the summer holidays has the same sort of troubles and guilt, no matter how hard they try to make the summer work for them. There’s parents who get up at 5 and do the majority of their working day from 5-11 when the children are asleep and then ‘parent,’ from lunchtime onwards doing the ‘fun,’ days out and activities whilst juggling the admin side of the job and phone calls from then on to then jump back into work later on after tea.


There’s parents who utilise holiday clubs, who pay a fortune for children to access classes which often they don’t want to go to so they can work a full day and feel guilty about doing so. There are parents who utilise grandparents and family, and feel guilty for this - despite grandparents and family often wanting to help out and being happy to do so… any way you dress it up, the parental guilt is there…


There’s parents who take the entire summer off with their children and feel exhausted after 2 days of ‘fun,’ because actually hearing mummy mummy mummy seventeen million times a day is relentless and leaves you with little capacity for much else. Having used their holidays to spend time with their children, they quickly find that they have no time to fill their own cup and refresh themselves.


Whichever way we dress up the summer holidays, they are hard work - and no-one’s grass is any greener than the other… unless maybe you’re a millionaire… in which case I’d love to hear how It is for you!


I think though, its really important to know that we are not alone in the overwhelm, that there’s a huge number of parents juggling these very scenarios, all feeling guilty about whichever option they have chosen on any particular day. It’s important to know that not all parents are enjoying the summer holidays with their children every second of every day and that if actually, you’re not busy #makingmemories every second of the day that doesn’t make you a bad parent. It’s absolutely ok to feel a little fed up, a little overwhelmed, a little flat, and a like its all a bit much this summer…


Summer is loaded with expectation for parents and its un-manageable and unfair. Our children’s expectations come from the television and social media they consume, and if we’re honest ours do too. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and all out of fun on week one of the holidays here’s my top advice…


Think back to when you were little and the activities you did as a child - the fun you had during summer and what you got up to… not every day was littered with trips and treats, eating out and play dates. Your child’s days don’t need to be filled like this either


You are doing your best - if you’ve got to work, you’ve got to work. There is absolutely no harm in children and young people seeing parents working and juggling. It sets them up for life and shows that work needs to be done in order to fund the fun. No bad thing at all.


The very fact you are feeling guilty shows what an incredible, caring parent you are… you don’t have to show you care with gifts, days out and fun, your children want you and your time - being with you is often more than enough.


Taking time out for you is not selfish, its necessary. The more we can show our children we are human and we need to take care of our own needs as well as everyone else’s, the more they will recognise their own needs and the need to put those first in the future. The result, happier healthier young adults. That might look like a bath, putting a candle on, snuggling on the couch for 10 minutes with a book, a hot cup of tea in peace, an evening walk in nature, listening to your favourite songs, whatever it is, make sure your children know its something you do to make you feel better and reset your mind and body. Its good for them to see!


Don’t compare… Your summer may not look like the next persons, but it’s yours and comparison is a killer…


And the last tip, make sure to get enough sleep… its so important that we find the time to properly rest and relax so we can make the most of all the incredible opportunities that present themselves this time of year - and I’m not talking expensive stuff I’m talking evening walks in the woodland or on the beach, card games in the garden soaking up the evening sun, lazy nights watching films because bedtimes not so much of an issue… it’s the million little hings that we remember from childhood that yours will too… pressure off parents… you’re doing just fine


Cal x

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