It’s just about this time of year that I start hearing from parents that they are D.O.N.E. with summer.
Summer begins by letting us celebrate not making lunches everyday, rejoice in turning off that terribly early alarm clock, delight in taking adventures with our family…and NO HOMEWORK!
And then…we start missing it all. A lot. Just in time for the new year to start! Genius, really.
It’s also during these last few weeks of summer that we seem to have an especially hard time keeping our cool with the kids. A few summers ago I wrote an article about Cooling Tempers in the home stretch of the summer, which is always a good reminder.
But today’s article is about how to design time for yourself that will allow you keep sane. Sanity is even more important than managing anger. Kids will generally choose an angry parent any day over a wild-eyed mother huddled in the corner, rocking back and forth, saying, “But mommy, you said I could have the pony!”
Yes, we’ve all been in that corner. Here’s how to keep ourselves out:
As parents we all deserve some time to “check-out.” This is time where we don’t have to think, or worry, or process, or advise, or contemplate. It’s just turning our brain OFF. And it feels good.
We all have our own ways to check-out. Getting lost in a great book, watching Mad Men, having a drink with friends, watching a funny movie….whatever works.
Our bodies and brains are busy sun up to sun down, so make some time to check-out. Don’t wait until it’s “reasonable” to ask for it…or until you’re in total breakdown so you HAVE to do it. Make it happen now.
Getting lost in TV or books and checking out is usually the easier of the two, although we still don’t often give ourselves enough time to do it.
This one, the “checking-in,” tends to get placed so far down the list that it’s only a faint “ought to” we once had.
Part of staying connected and healthy is to make time to check-in. Going inside ourselves to see how we’re really doing is an important part of self-care. As busy parents we’re very good at going with the flow, letting the days take us along, mindlessly stumbling from one day to the next.
Checking-in is JUST as important as checking-out. They need to exist in partnership…in equal parts.
Some great ways to check-in are: yoga, meditation, journaling, sitting in silence (glorious silence!) with a cup of coffee or tea, going to counseling, having a deeper level conversation with a good friend, taking a walk, deep breaths.
Ask yourself some simple questions….
“How are you REALLY doing?”
“Are you ok?”
“What do you need?”
Taking sweet care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your children. It’s more important for you to be healthy and happy than it is for you to spend every moment with your children. Truly.
Take the time to “check-out” AND “check-in” to make it through these last weeks of summer, and then carry the practice with you into the school year. You somehow find the energy to feed your children every day…don’t forget to feed yourself.