The summer holidays are a marathon, not a sprint. If, like me, you stupidly started off on day one on an actual day trip, you’ll be realising this. Right. About. Now. Somewhere around Tuesday, I hit the summer holiday wall. And I could feel it all starting to implode. Three kids. Work stuff. House stuff. Not a productive combination in anyone’s eyes. Here’s how to get across the finish line. In one piece. (Sort of.)
- Have a minor meltdown. Meltdowns are good and an important part of the imploding process. The key here is to keep the meltdown in check. A rant to a friend rather than a full on breakdown in Sainsbury’s is preferable. Ranting to a friend is good because, assuming you’ve picked the right friend, they will be feeling as destitute as you and together you can lament how rubbish parenthood/adulthood/life is and know neither of you really mean it. (Yeah right.)
- Do ONE thing on your to-do list. It’s the school holidays. It’s chaos. You’re not going to be on top of everything right now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be on top of anything. Do ONE thing each day to make yourself feel better. Mop the bathroom floor. Put a load of washing on. Take 15 minutes to go through your emails. It will make you feel better. More in control. And like you’ve achieved something in this never ending sea of feeding kids and mediating squabbles.
- Breathe. You’ll know if you completely stop breathing because, well, you’ll know. But I bet you’re sort of holding your breath right now. In that tense, slightly anxious, ‘I’m at the mercy of a small army of mini Hitlers, what are they going to do next?‘ way. Go into a quiet room, shut the door and take THREE DEEP BREATHS. You can precede this with several hundred, ‘FFS,’ if you like. No judgement here.
- Sleep on it. If everything’s getting on top of you, write the day off. Take your kids to a park so they can run and you can hide. Then get them to bed EARLY. Get yourself to bed EARLY. And tackle stuff tomorrow. I was never a great believer in this but it actually does work. Things look much better first thing in the morning when you’ve had some decent sleep (and a caffeine hit). For at least 30 minutes anyway.
- Believe it will all be ok. This week I have been tasked with keeping my kids alive, keeping myself sane(ish), arranging delivery of a shipment of 3000 copies of The New Mum’s Notebook and packing for a two week holiday. On Tuesday this seemed pretty insurmountable. By today, I’ve waded my way through much of it (with a healthy dose of shouting). And whilst the house is covered in ‘DO NOT TOUCH!’ holiday piles of clothes, which my kids insist on rummaging through and re-wearing so that I can have the joy of washing them AGAIN. And my book delivery is apparently the biggest that the shipping company have delivered to a domestic address EVER (2.5 tonnes, basically the weight of a small elephant) and am I quite sure I don’t want it delivered somewhere else? AND it’s coming whilst I’m on holiday so I’m not even going to be here to oversee it (marvellous). I’m still here to write this post. I guess that means it’s all ok, right?
- You can do it (because you ARE doing it). This week someone kindly commented that my work looks pretty tireless. The timing was ironic because I couldn’t have felt more tired, jaded and out of sync when they said it. But it got me thinking. That what all of us parents are doing day in, day out is tireless. Because although we often feel exhausted and frazzled, we keep on going. We keep doing what we’re doing. And that’s pretty amazing in itself, isn’t it? (So what if the house is about to collapse under a pile of plastic junk and we haven’t brushed our hair in days.)
- Keep your eye on the goal. We’re 75% of the way through. And I know it doesn’t feel like it (except it probably really, really does feel like it), but this is nearly over. And yes, one week into school, we will be moaning about crazy, stressful mornings, the dreaded school run, all the class emails, the dressing up days and those blooming phonics. The grass is ALWAYS greener. But that’s our glorious prerogative. And that’s the law of parenting.
All the love.