So went the old song but how easy is it? We start to see adverts on our televisions and in those glossy magazines from the moment the Easter eggs have been rolled, scoffed and digested.
The shops are full of summer clothes and the holiday companies pull out all the stops to tempt us.
We expect a more relaxed lifestyle during the summer and, if all the elements are in place, warm sunshine, lots of time to chill out and time off work and school, it could be an idyllic time.
But what if our ‘real’ life doesn’t live up to the fantasy we build up in our minds?
For almost all parents, the beginning of summer coincides with school holidays and the children off school for up to eight weeks.
No more homework, school projects, fundraisers and all the other activities associated with the school year.
It’s lovely to have the kids around and if money and time were absolutely no object, I am sure that everyone could have a very good time creating lovely memories. But, in the real world, keeping the house clean, ferrying the kids to summer activities, preventing excessive bickering between siblings and the headache of arranging childcare for working parents, can lead to excess stress.
A break from routine is so necessary for our health and happiness but all the planning, the packing, the airport queues, the juggling at work to get enough space to take time off and the financial costs can bring additional, unanticipated stress.
I’m not here to ‘rain on your parade’ or to bring you down to earth with an unnecessary thump. What I’d like to do is to remind you of all the simple stress management techniques that there are out there with the potential to take the strain off.
Some stress is useful in keeping life interesting. This type of stress includes the thrill of a rollercoaster ride or the excitement of planning a party.
However, even exciting stress can add up and become negative if there is too much of it.
It’s important to keep an eye on stress levels because, if you don’t have time to recover between one jolt of excitement and the next, your body’s stress response starts to work overtime and takes a toll on your system.
While everyone has different symptoms there are some common signs that you have had too much stress and you need to slow down including
· Impatience or edginess
· Lack of enjoyment of anything including things you used to take pleasure in
· Sleep problems – too much or too little
Just as everyone has different stress ‘triggers’, there are a range of stress management techniques which can provide relief.
Some of these techniques are very simple indeed, take minutes to do and can be done by even the most stressed out parent.
Take a couple of minutes, even while you are on the loo, and breathe in slowly and then exhale. Just three simple, deep breaths can take you from stressed out to chilled out.
When the kids have headed to bed, take ten minutes to relax totally. No telly, no chardonnay just tune out and enjoy the silence.
There are also some great relaxing activities which you can do with the kids and which will allow you to really enjoy the long, summer holidays. These include;
Drawing together can get you back in touch with your own inner child. Stock up on crisp new crayons or bring out your old ones, and create beautiful pictures with your children.
Walking enjoy the benefits of exercise and get outside and just meander
Blow bubbles little ones love this and it can give you a real break, taking your mind off whatever is stressing you out.
Enjoy music this has extremely useful stress relieving properties and can give lots of opportunity to bond with your kids
Do fun things with friends and including your children and theirs. This can supply a supportive outlet for everyone.
So even though the holidays can seem like a hectic and stressful time, don’t make it harder on yourself and the kids by over committing and filling up your diary. Make going to a film together a real treat; don’t arrange to see all of the summer’s releases in a week. Plan a trip to one museum or gallery if that’s what you enjoy as a family, don’t try to visit six.
Above all, keep it simple.....You don’t have to fill every minute for the kids with something fun. It’s ok for them to be bored sometimes, it gets their creative juices flowing and lets them develop their own ability to be ok with their own company and lets them be inventive.
And finally, look after you, a shattered parent isn’t going to be much fun for anyone. Think of something you usually deny yourself, this could be a massage or a lovely new blockbusting novel that you’d normally wait to catch up with when it reaches the library. Allow yourself at least one holiday indulgence.
Hypnotherapy, NLP and coaching can support you to draw up an effective plan for dealing with anxiety and stress which will enable you to deal effectively with those little niggles that can build up if left to fester.
Don’t Agonise ......Orrganise